Friday, March 31, 2006

Boredom

I am bored. Not your everyday I’m too lazy to find something to do bored. I mean I am first class, counting the specks on the ceiling (4,489,653 and counting), and, searching my mustache for gray whiskers (4) bored. The kind of bored that makes you want to want to learn a new language or start a new hobby in brain surgery. I mean bored. So bored that you want to start a bad habit just so you have something to do. The bored that causes men to start wars bored. I am bored. I have organized all my pencils, cleaned my toenails to perfection, and manicured the hair on my knuckles. All the coins in my change jar are in chronological order and my shirts are alphabetized by maker. I have ironed my socks and cleaned out the dust bunnies from under the dresser. I am thinking of gaining weight just so I can loose it – at this point counting calories sounds like fun. All the clocks (7) in my house are synchronized and I have rearranged the pictures (13) on my wall. I tweezed the living room carpet and trimmed all the stray fibers. If I still had a cat she would probably be bald and hiding under the bed – which is nice and clean. I read through the dictionary and made what corrections I deemed necessary. All my pocketknives (7) and one spoon are sharp and my toothpicks (53) are aligned in the holder with a slight left-hand twist. I have yawned 57 times since 7:00 PM and I have 123 freckles on my left arm. (I would count the ones on my right arm but I am saving them for later.) I know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop (I will let you discover that for yourself) and I have arranged all the cans (88) in my kitchen cabinet by calorie content and color. All the frozen dinners (24) in my freezer are facing the same direction. The refrigerator is on its own. I reached in to move some stuff and got bit. I cleaned out the broom bristles and combed the mop. You could eat out of the dustpan (hey I am a bachelor I may eat out of anything) and drink out of the mop bucket. My shoes are all laced the exact same way and lined up neatly like soldiers waiting for battle. I have polished all the doorknobs (6) and shined the baseboards. I removed all the excess fuzz from my q-tips (114) and sanitized my toothbrush. If I had a roommate I might take up hair design but unfortunately I live alone. All my CDs (47 – mostly classical) are cleaned and fingerprint free and my fingers (10 at last count) are clean and CD free. I counted the staples in the stapler (87) and measured the footage left in the tape dispenser (4’ 7”). My bookshelves (94 books) are neat and organized (a first) and all my batteries (19) have been tested and are arranged according to remaining voltage. I have watered the plants and plucked away any growth that didn’t look healthy (I was talking to them but they quit listening). I dusted all the light bulbs (18) in the apartment and lined up all the thumbtacks (25) on the memo board in nice colorful patterns. I doodled until my doodler quit. And I have written most of this essay. I would go to sleep but there is no excitement in that. Besides I ironed the bed sheets and I don’t want to wrinkle them. My pillows (4) are impossibly fluffy and the nightstand has been polished. I may go around and mess things up just so I have something to do again. I burned all my candles (7) down to the exact same length and arranged all my kids stuffed animals (97) according to height and species (although some of those species I am not so sure about – what do you call a six-legged blue animal with two heads?). For now I am going to practice my rubber band marksmanship by trying to hang them on a nail from across the room. Later I may try to dig an escape tunnel through the back wall just in case I may need to escape from myself - now you know why I sharpened the spoon.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Pit

Deeper and deeper I fall
Into the darkness of despair,
Dark hands reach out to grasp me
And pull me farther into the pit.
I struggle, crawl, scrabble and dig with all I have in me
Yet I slide deeper still.
I cry for help but none comes.
Those things that were once my salvation
Now become weights to hold me down.
My efforts in vain are expended.
Loneliness my companion
I sink into the gloom.
Unending night descends upon me
No sunlight permeates my tomb.
Creatures of darkness cry for me.
I can not surrender to their sirens call.
Another day,
Another hour,
Another minute,
Another breath
I fight my battle.
No relief comes to my plight,
Yet I fight on.
I sink farther,
I fall deeper,
I grow weaker.
Yet I struggle
Unwilling to allow the darkness to win.
There is no hope of escape,
No light to run to
Only the fear of living on the bottom pushes me upward.
The fear of remaining always alone.
I pull myself upward.
In public
I wear a happy face.
In private
I remove my mask and sit in sorrow.
In private
I sink deeper into the nothingness.
Alone I reach for the surface
Alone I fight for life.
No help to climb out.
No rope of expectation is tossed into the blackness.
My fingers seek a handle
My toes grasp for holds.
I struggle,
Sliding farther down with each motion,
And yet I struggle,
Still alone but unwilling to give in.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bonnie - my first love

When I was a teenager my dad, for whatever reason, defied logic and bought me a 1972 Pontiac Bonneville (soon named Bonnie) for the princely sum of $500. The unbelievable part was that it had a 455 cubic inch engine with a two barrel carb under its incredibly long snout. That is about 7.5 liters for those of you who don’t remember cubic inches. (My full-size truck has a 5.7-liter engine.) It was a monster. It wasn’t the most powerful car since it only had around 200-horse power, but it cranked out 350 foot-pounds of torque. For those of you who don’t know what that means allow me to translate. If you held the gas on the floor it would spin the rear tires till the rubber came off. Nearly everyone has a story about a car that they wish they had not sold and old Bonnie was mine. She was seventeen years old when I got her, but only had 71,000 miles on her. She had a little rust in the trunk and a leaky rear window. But apart from that she looked pristine. None of my friends had anything that could keep up with her. She weighed in the neighborhood of 6,000 pounds.

Once, when I was in High School, my little sister was home sick. She called the school and told the principal that someone was going through our tool shed. He called me to the phone. She told me about the guy. The principal said that he heard my tires light up in the parking lot before the phone hit the floor. It normally took about ten minutes to drive home. It only took about two minutes that day. I have no idea how fast she was going, but I used up almost a full tank of gas. When I walked in the back door my sister said, “how did you get here so fast I just hung up the phone.” I just smiled. And for the record – there was no evidence that any one had ever been there. The drive back to school was made at a more sedate pace.

She regularly ate Fieros and Mustangs for breakfast, with an occasional side dish of Mopar. A guy I went to college with had a 1967 Ford Mustang with a built 289 and a four speed. I walked off and left him many times. Another friend had a 1972 Plymouth Valiant with a 318, a 4-barrel Holley carb, and a 3-speed auto tranny, couldn’t get close. I drove her for about 4 years back and forth across the mountains between North Carolina and Tennessee. She never gave me the slightest problem and got a respectable 18-mpg, and used very little oil. People still comment on her when they see me even though she has been gone for over 10 years now. I cannot believe that I let her get away, but she was broken down (bad timing chain after nearly 20 years imagine that) and I was moving and didn’t have the time or money to fix her, or any place to store her so I sold her. I keep looking on Ebay and other Internet sites to see if I can locate another one. Perhaps one of these days I will find her or one like her, and rebuild her. Will I let my son drive her? Probably not.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Empathy

I can’t stand to see someone that I care about in pain. There is something inside of me that wants to take them and hold them and tell them it will be all right. I suppose I may be too empathetic at times but it bothers me to see someone hurting. Tonight I saw a friend of mine and she was not happy about something. All I know is that it is about a guy. Not surprising most women have men problems and most men have women problems. I know that there is no way I solve her problems but deep inside me I wanted to. There is a comfort in being able to give comfort. There is love in being able to give love. There is joy in being able to bring joy. When I left her tonight I had a feeling of failure because she still wasn’t happy. I almost turned around and went back but I didn’t. I hope that whatever, or whoever, made her unhappy is resolved soon. I don’t like to see her sad. I don’t really like to see anyone sad. I know how terrible that feels. I wish that there were some way to eradicate pain and sadness from out lives, but unfortunately there is no way to do it. I hope that for her joy comes back soon. I hope to see her smile. I only wish I had some way to insure that the smile would remain.

But then another thought hits me. If it were not for the sorrow we know in our lives, we would never know what real joy is. Without the rain we would never know the beauty of the sunshine. There was a song many years ago that said, "It takes a little rain to make love grow." And I suppose that is so true. We must know sadness to really know the meaning of happiness. Without one the other has no foundation. Without war we would never truly know the meaning of peace. Time doesn’t heal all things it simply puts them in better perspective. It allows us to have a better understanding of our sorrows and deeper enjoyment of out joys. I suppose that in some way my friends sorrow will enable her to know greater joy. I hope that is true in any case. And just maybe I can in some way help to make her happy again.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Restless

Today, now that I have slept, I have that restless feeling that I remember from years gone by. It has been a while since I have felt like this. I just want to do something. Anything. I want to pack up and wander off to anywhere but here. I want to go to where I can be in new surroundings. I want to be twelve years younger when I had so few obligations I could go any where I pleased and no one cared. I want to be able to go for a long walk in the country. I want to go for a long drive with no destination in mind. Just wandering up and down the roads till I find where I am going. I want to spend three or four days in the truck with nothing more than a sleeping bag and a fishing pole. I want to go away and be someone else. If just for a little while. I want to go play a pick up game of football in the mud. To jump on a bicycle and ride till I don’t think I can make it back. I want to disappear, not run away, just to be away from myself for a while. But time and obligations and injuries keep me from being that free again. Maybe someday when the doctors of the world find a cure for car crash injuries and pain in general I can do it again. For now I am limited in my freedom by the length of the cord on the heating pad and the availability of pain meds. Maybe someday I can be free again. Maybe then, but not today.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Just for those who wanted to know

I finally broke down last night and took some dimerol for my back. The stuff the doc perscribed wasnt working and I hadn't slept since Saturday ( which prompted my temper tantrum post). I went to bed at 11:30 last night and woke up at 4:20 this afternoon. I feel much better now.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I amuse myself

Sometimes I amuse myself. (nobody else but at least I think I am funny) As a matter of fact I amuse myself quite often. Like tonight for example. My back was sore so I thought I would soak in the tub. However, I also wanted to watch 3 ½ Men so I fired up the old VCR, turned off the telly, filled up the tub, and soaked for a hour or so while reading a good book. (Well it was a book anyhow.) When I got out of the tub I came in the living room (yes I dried off.) Then I turned the TV back on and ignored this week’s episode of CSI Miami (well actually I was playing Red Alert on my computer). Finally the snooze – I mean news came on and I started the tape. (And yes I rewound it first). Well I was sitting there watching 3 ½ Men and my stomach reminded me that it wanted some attention. (My memory is poor and it knows I need reminders) So when a commercial came on I jumped up and raced into the kitchen to make a gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I used a clean spoon that is as gourmet as it gets around here). Then I raced back to the living room and was irritated that I had missed a few minutes of the show. (I also stubbed my toe on the bookshelf; stupid thing jumped right out in front of me does it all the time, why one of these days I’m gonna get a hammer and a box of matches and…umm - Ahem I digress.) While I was sitting there irritated over my slowness (and my sore toe) I just started to laugh. If I had been another person I would have slapped myself (think about that sentence for a while). The whole time I was rushing (and bruising digits) I could have simply hit the pause button and made a jumbo ultra gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwich (meaning I could have looked and seen the moldy crust before I bit into the sandwich).

A Special Report

We interrupt this pleasant blog for a startling development. A grown man who could not sleep last night is throwing a fit. Now we take you live to the site of William’s temper tantrum.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH
(spinning around in his desk chair)
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGG GGGGGGGGGGGGGGHhhhhhhhhh
(running wildly about the room waving his hands in the air)
AAAAAAAAAAA thud ow AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH thud AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR THUD
THUD THUD ow ow ow ow
(whacking his knee on the desk while he spins )
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHLKJHOUY
JGHIUYdasdfRTSFH HHHHHHHHHHHHH NMKNKM
JNBJHBH AAAAAAFLKUSGUOGELWYFGTA AAAA KHN
JBHasGGFTRFdsGGHHJ
(beating his head on the keyboard)
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EEOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAOOO
OOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOO
(running around the wall like a headless chicken) AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
WWWWWWWWW WWWWWWWWWWWWIIIIII
IIIIIIIIIIIIIEEE EEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPTTTTTTT
TTTTTTT TTTBBBBBBBBBBBBB
(spitting in the air)
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH HRRRRRRRRRGG
GGGGGGGGGGG
(dodging the guys with the butterfly nets) AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
HHHHHHHH HHHHHH
(Jumping up and down on one of the guys with the butterfly nets) EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOIIIIIIIIIIIIUUUUUU UUUUUUUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
(swinging his arms madly like a Baboon) EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAEIOUandsometimesy
AAAAAAAOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAARRRRRHH
HHHHHHHH
(laying in the floor kicking and screaming like a two year old in need of a spanking and a nap)
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEEE
EEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH HHHHHHGGG GGGGHHHH
HHHHHHHH slurp AAAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEEEEEEe slurp AAAAAAAAAAAEEEEE slurp AAAAAaaaaaa slurp aaaaaa slurp
slurp aaa slurp slurp slurp zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
(sucking his thumb and finally falling asleep curled up in a fetal position in the floor)


This has been a special report. Please stay tuned for further developments. Now back to your regularly scheduled insanity.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Umm.... What was I saying

The gremlins have invaded my brain. They have over powered my synapses and rewired my hard drive to work backwards. The little monsters have taken my memory and rerouted it to make me forget everything. Or at least that is the excuse I am going to be using. I may need to get a PHD so I can be the absent-minded professor. What brings on this observation? How about the fact that I can’t remember anything? Yesterday I went to the gas station, I went inside, got a Mt. Dew and a candy bar, talked to the pretty cashier, and then left. As I pulled onto the road the truck began to sputter and choke I forgot to get gas. Now you would think that since I was standing in a gas station I would have thought of it. And trust me the cashier gave me a hard time. I could try to say that the beauty of the cashier overwhelmed my brain, but that wouldn’t explain too many other things. I am not sure that she would buy it either.
Later last night I went to the grocery store to get cat food for a stray cat that had adopted me. I went in the store, got a buggy, picked up a case of bottled water, a loaf of bread, and some mustard (all of which I needed), but I didn’t get cat food. Not that the cat minded because I gave him a can of tuna. And while I was at the store I bumped into a gal who I recognized. I couldn’t remember who she was, but we talked for a few minutes. I racked my brain for hours and finally realized where I know her from. She works at the CVS by my house. The CVS is the closest store to me and I am in there a couple of times a week.
A while back I ran into a librarian at a store. For the life of me I couldn’t think of who she was. I am in the library almost every day checking my email. Been going there for about five years. But I couldn’t remember who she was. Oh I recognized the face but I had no context to put it in.
I am worried that one day I will wake up and head to the bathroom and not know who the guy I am shaving is. Maybe I should grow my beard back, and then I won’t have to shave. Sometimes I am surprised I can remember where I live. Or at least I think I live here. The key fit the door.
I won’t even begin to tell about all the times I go into the kitchen and have no idea what I went in there for. Maybe I should write myself a note before I get out of my chair so I can remember. Maybe that is why my dad never gets up, he asks my mom to get him stuff. He is afraid he won’t remember what he was after. Today I went in the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. I poured in the water, dropped in a filter, scooped in the coffee grounds, and went in the living room to wait. Thirty minutes later I realized that I hadn’t turned the coffee maker on.
It is the gremlins I am telling you. They have escaped from my computer, crawled up my fingers and invaded my brain. That has to be it. I wonder if I can have my head reformatted. Maybe add some virus protection. Of course maybe they could upgrade my memory while they are in there.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Night walk

I have always enjoyed going for walks. It started when I was in high school. When most kids my age were spending their time driving around I was riding my faithful mountain bike down to the end of the road we lived on and then walking through the woods just enjoying the solitude. I never really did fit in and I would walk around and enjoy the beauty of the country. I would walk around and find deer and turkey, my friends who were hunters would get mad at me when I wouldn’t tell them where they were. Not that I am opposed to hunting, I just liked having some beautiful things to myself. Tonight I went for a walk. I don’t live in the country anymore, but I do live in a small town. I like to walk at night. There is a solitude to the darkness that wraps around you and give you an anonymity that is enjoyable. Tonight was cool so I donned a well-worn pair of jeans, my leather jacket, and battered hat and headed out into the darkness. At night I don’t have to worry about being accosted by the homeless people that are always asking for money or cigarettes. The cold kept everyone else off the street.
When I go for a late walk I always carry two things with me. Both are an old habit and I rarely leave the house without them, but especially not at night. The first is a good bright flashlight. I carry a small one. It is good for letting drivers know where I am since I prefer dark clothes, and it makes a handy weapon if I ever need it. The second is a lighter. The reasons for that are varied. It is a light source if the flashlight is dead and if I need to get warm it is handy to have a source of heat. Better to have both and not need them than need them and not have them. Once while I was out walking a cop stopped me and asked me if I had a light. A few days later the same cop pulled me over for a busted taillight. He remembered the light and let me off.
I always walk past this beautiful old house close to town. It is a huge thing that looks like it belongs in a horror movie. I always expect to see lightning striking it. If it weren’t yellow I would look for the wolfman to crawl out of the window. I read somewhere that it is called the Bankers House. I don’t know why but I always like to stop in front if it and wonder what kind of people lived there. I suppose that they were bankers.
I walked past a parts house where I found the slug of a bullet next to a set of tire tracks from a car that peeled out in a hurry. I never heard of anything happening there, but I don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out that it wasn’t good. I still have the bullet somewhere. It was in a change jar for a long time, but the last few times I emptied it the bullet wasn’t there.
On the way back I turned down a street that isn’t so lovely. I don’t mind walking down it I am capable of taking care of myself, even with a busted ankle. I wasn’t looking for trouble I just don’t see any reason to walk back down the same street I just came up. There are some old houses back there too. I like to look at them even though most of them are run down. When I turn down that street I can feel the sixth sense that I have developed over time wake up and kick in. I don’t get paranoid I just notice things more than I do at other times. For instance I noticed the white Pontiac Bonneville that passed me three times. After the second pass I found a shadow to crawl into the next time it came by. I don’t think anyone has cause to follow me but I didn’t want to find out. I didn’t see it again.
Down the main street on town I heard a patrol car come by with the siren blaring. As he got close he shut the siren off and I could hear the engine as it sped through the darkness. I never did see the car but the sound was unmistakable.
I came to a dark place and stopped and looked up at the stars. There aren’t near as many here as there are out of town - the streetlights block them. The clear sky was dotted with silvery stars that looked down to where I stood. There was no moon, just the stars. I stood there for a minute looking out from under the brim of my hat. I shivered in the cold and then walked back to my apartment. The great thing about taking a walk is that it will all be there next time waiting for me.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The WarWagon

Someone sang a song a while back that said something like if my truck was a horse I would shoot it. If my truck were a horse the ASPCA would come and shoot it and haul me off in chains and lock me away forever. You see my truck is a WORK truck. Not one of those work trucks that people in clean clothes ride around in worrying about spilling their non fat cafĂ© late on the interior. My truck is a work truck that comes home with 4,000 pounds of junk piled on it that came from deep in the woods where I had to knock over small trees and smash through heavy undergrowth. I only worry about spilling things that might eat through the floor and cause me to fall out in the interstate. Those sissy work trucks whose owners will not allow food to be eaten inside amuse me. I worry about something eating me whilei drive. If I get a few more layers of dirt in the passenger’s floorboard I am going to plant tomatoes down there to feed whatever lives under the seat. Worried about scratches? Not me, the WarWagon is covered in a protective layer of grease and mud. Dents and dings –HA – there may be a straight body panel somewhere in it. Maybe the left front fender well is unscathed, but it would take too long to clean out the two tons of Carolina red clay to see if I am right. Upset over things sliding around in the bed – not in my truck. It is currently covered in a layer of burnt transmission fluid from being used as a workbench recently; keeping the fluid from leaking out on the ground is a dam of dirt, rock, and vines. Somewhere in all that mess is a jack I found for a friends car and about 40 feet of chain. The duct tape covered window looks right at home on the back of the cab – I wasn’t upset that it broke; I was amazed that it went that long without getting smashed. I am constantly having people coming up to me and asking where I got the crane that is in the back of the truck – it has been a long time since anyone came up and told me it was beautiful – the truck or the crane. Last time I had tires put on it the guy had to dig through a ton of mud to get to the lug nuts. I can park anywhere without worrying about it getting damaged, although there hasn’t been a Mercedes parked next to it in a while. As a matter of fact when I come out of a store now there is a circle of empty spots around it. It looks like a quarantine area. I imagine that when I leave, a team of Haz-Mat workers come out and clean up. It doesn’t leak – much. I feel that I am doing my part to seal parking lots all across America. My parking spot at the apartment is so slick that the American Olympic curling team sublets it to train on in the summer months. Three tourists came by thinking it was the La Brea tar–pits, I didn’t have the heart to tell them that they were on the wrong coast. I just took their $20 admission fee and let them wander around. Some trucks are not allowed to get dirty. My truck thrives on mud and dirt. It is not uncommon to see it come down the road with a small tree sticking out of something. I tell everyone I am decorating for Christmas. My landlord got mad last weekend because someone had washed a car and left the hose running - I wasn’t even questioned. It gets washed when it rains. And it even has a security system – when the door is opened a stream of empty water bottles and stray tools fall to the ground altering me to unauthorized entry. Not that anyone in their right mind would enter it. A few weeks ago I came out and found a hand sticking out of a pile of Deer Park bottles, poor kid didn’t stand a chance, he wrote out his will in ketchup packets on the pack of a pizza box – very touching. Only one person broke into it and survived. He had to have tetanus and distemper shots, I still haven’t found his fingers – or whatever ate them.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Wedding Bell Blues

This weekend I went to a friends wedding. I didn’t really want to but I have known her since she was nine years old and didn’t think I would survive much longer if I didn’t go. It is funny but I recall her telling me about two years ago that she would never get married. It was a beautiful ceremony I guess. I am not much of an expert on beauty anymore. I couldn’t help but remember when I had stood in front a preacher what seemed like a lifetime ago and said the same words to a woman I thought would be beside me forever. Things didn’t quite work out that way. “Till death do us part” became “till I find someone better.” She did. I didn’t. Life is funny like that. She spent the whole marriage suspecting me of cheating. I didn’t. She did. While I am happy for my friend who strapped on the old ball and chain, I couldn’t help but feel that I had lost something. Somehow I had lost the ability to enjoy her happiness. I hope she never had to taste the bitter things I did. No one should ever have to. I wish her great happiness in her new life. I left the wedding as quickly as I could. Remembering the bright-eyed nine-year-old I had met when I was 18. I hope that her future keeps her eyes bright and she knows only happiness. I think she will. It is too late for myself.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Loneliness

Loneliness is a pool. A stagnate slime-covered pool that taints everything that enters it. Its bottom is thick with muck and mud that hold tightly to everything that enters it. No one wants to go into it and no one wants to associate with those who are trapped in its muddy bottom. The stench of the fetid water clings to those who manage to venture away from its slippery banks. Inside there dwells a monster with long tendrils that reaches out to drag those escapees back into its rancid home.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Boogie Nights

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines dance as moving the body and feet on rhythm, ordinarily to music. I have never been a dancer. I am overly white, as I have been told before. I am the only man ever born who was genetically cursed with three left feet. Not only do I have no rhythm I have no coordination either. I can walk in a straight line just fine, but when you add music my feet try to tango while my legs waltz and my body rhumbas, and all in different directions and to different beats. It is not a pretty sight. Imagine if you will someone electrocuting a chicken standing on hot pavement. The chicken has grace and style; I on the other hand look like I am trying to capture a greased squid with my toes on a sheet of ice. I don’t even do that well at a cake walk. I like music – I can play guitar, the radio, and can even sing on key, but moving and music don’t mix, not for me anyhow. I am in awe of ballroom dancers they move with such grace and beauty – I however move with the grace of a beached whale being attacked by three-year-olds with plastic shovels. If I were to toss and twirl a woman she would need emergency medical care. The orchestra would have to be removed from various bodily orifices. I wonder what operation is necessary to remove a tuba or a bassoon or both. Watching the Olympic ice dancers was incredible; if I were to strap knives to my feet and go out on the ice there would be dismembered audience members everywhere – Freddie Kruger on Ice. In the 80’s there was break dancing. I can break dance although when I do it things and other people get broken. If I ever tried to spin on my head my chiropractor could buy a new house, not to mention a few personal injury lawyers and their new Mercedes. I can drive down any street on a hot summers day and hear the beat of music pealing through the air and see bodies flailing and flying through the air in perfect time – expressing what the music is saying to them. What the music says to me is that I need physical therapy and a few x-rays. I remember seeing a T-shirt several years ago that was an advertisement for some brand of alcohol, it said “Helping white people dance since ...” I don’t think there is enough alcohol in a truckload to help me, maybe after a truckload I could pass out and no one would notice that I didn’t even fall down in time with the music. I can’t even slow dance. I do fine as long as I don’t have to move. I can stand still to music just fine. I remember many years ago that a gal told me girls her height liked to dance with tall guys like me because they could hear their partner’s heartbeat. What she would hear if she danced with me would be breaking bones and ambulance sirens. The fact that she was short probably would have added an extra element of risk of bodily harm. I would probably gouge her in the eye with a rib – maybe one of hers.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Dirt Devil

I sit in a filthy scrap yard and wait my turn to pull on the scales. Nothing of beauty exists here. It is a place of dust, dirt, and damaged things. Nothing here has any worth other than to be melted down. Dirty men plod through the piles of debris that are brought in one truckload at a time – sweaty, dirty, hard, tired men. Men who stare without seeing their surroundings. Very few women ever appear, those that do are regarded as intruders, nothing of beauty is allowed here. Jagged teeth of metal reach out from every direction hungry to rip and tear into flesh, clothing, and tires. Steel toed boots, long pants, and leather gloves are in fashion here. Those who enter without them soon realize the folly of their choice. The only shade comes from one tall pine tree that towers over the scale house surveying its domain; I wonder how it exists. And endless parade of battered trucks of all makes, colors, and sizes makes its way past the scales and down to the bottom of the yard. Coming here often enough causes young men to age; backs ache, hands grow weary, and legs tremble at the strain. I wait to unload my truck and collect my few dollars that will put gas in the truck so I can drive for another load. Everywhere there are men taking ratchet-straps, ropes and bungee cords off their loads so they can be unloaded. Cigarette butts and tobacco juice covers the ground. Men laugh at jokes that should not be repeated as they light more cigarettes and stuff more tobacco under their lips. The cranes groan and strain to move useless objects to their final destination – the shredder. Elsewhere men grunt and groan to toss old engine blocks into a pile. Cars are carried to be crushed – someone’s dreams, their pride and joy, now a shattered mass of twisted steel and broken glass. The air is foul with diesel fumes. Every movement brings a cloud of dust that chokes everything. At times when it rains the whole yard becomes a swamp that tries to trap every one and everything that enters, but not today – today there is just dust. But as I sit here and wait a breeze sweeps through the piles of junk. Suddenly I see a movement on the road leading to the crusher. It is tall and fast. It swirls and dances past the men. A dirt devil. Suddenly my eyes forget their surroundings. I am no longer in the dismal piles of rubbish. I am a child again. I am running after the swirling mass. I hold my arms over my head and skip along as the air whirls around me. I dance with it turning and twisting to stay in the middle. Then my turn comes. The scales are open. As pull my battered old truck up the wind dies down. The dancing phantasm leaves as quickly as it arrived. All that is left is the junk, the men, and the dirt.

Friday, March 03, 2006

I see her

I see her in the park. She is perfect - beautiful, and voluptuous. She smiles when she sees me and runs to me. She reaches and embraces me as I kiss her ruby lips and hold her close to my body. I can feel the warmth of her pressing against me. Everyone else ceases to exist as we relish in the contact of one another. Our lips part and her hand finds mine. We walk along talking of small things, just enjoying the company of one another. Talk of dreams and plans, ideas and desires. Eventually she releases my hand and slips her arm through mine as we walk along. The warm spring sun shines down on us. We laugh at the antics of a squirrel as he leaps from branch to branch. Children run past as they play and call to one another. Across the park people are flying kites high up in the blue sky seeming to kiss the sun. As we reach the gazebo on the walking path we sit and enjoy the cooling breeze and shade. Our conversation continues as we bask in the closeness of each other. The flowers dance before us in the moving air. Nothing could be more perfect. She sits close to me and I put my arm around her shoulders. The heat of her body near mine is comforting. We watch the joggers and walkers as they pass by saying hello as they glide past. Another couple comes by and asks if we mind if they join us. Even though we are strangers we talk for an hour. She holds my hand and smiles, her beautiful eyes sparkling in the sunlight. We say our good byes and move to our cars. Standing beside them we embrace. Holding each other tightly not wanting to part. Our eyes meet and we stand in silence. She raised up to her toes and brings her face closer to mine. The breeze blows her hair in her eyes. I sweep it back gently with my hand and lean down to meet her rising lips. Then the alarm blares. Ringing bells shatter the air. I reach for the clock and silence the ringing. I wipe the sleep from my eyes and stumble to the coffeepot. Another night, another dream, another day of being alone.

Broken Things

We live in a world of broken things. Things the constantly need attention and repair. These things that break at the worst of all possible times. Cars that wont run, computers that wont compute, machines that deteriorate as soon as they are built, houses that are worn by time, and books that mold and rot. Today I drove past a chemical plant that exploded. Why? Because of metals that corrode and rust and wiring that shorts out. I am sure that the plant did not suddenly erupt into flames and kill twelve people and make many more ill with symptoms that cannot be diagnosed easily. If the investigation is thorough enough the investigators will most likely find something that time and use caused to fail that caused something else to fail that lead to death and destruction. But yet we accept these risks every day. We drive cars for thousands of miles on them and then some small overlooked thing causes them to quit. We use appliances every day that have worked for hundreds of hours and then some small thing – a loose screw, a bad wire, or faulty switch cause them to catch fire and burn down our homes. Rarely is the cause of these things some catastrophic failure that could never have been prevented. But the worst of the things that fail are people.
People with broken heart and lives. We pass them every day and never know what small things in their lives will lead them to destroy the things they love. Few people wake up in the morning and decide to murder, rape, take illegal drugs, and wound others. There are small things at first. A lost love, a lost job, a shortage of money, or the death of a dream starts a chain of events that leads to a headline on the front page or a column in the obituaries. Could maintenance have prevented this? Could just one little act of kindness done at the appropriate time have staved off the pain that leads to sorrow.
I realize that sorrow and loss are a part of living in our world. No one gets through life in a rosy bed of fragrant pedals. Each person will come to a point of loss and need. And for each person it will be different. Grief is like snowflakes – no two are the same. And like snowflakes it can be a light coating or an avalanche. Some are unable to work through the light covering and some cannot bear the avalanche. However, some people have the unique talent for taking the snow and making beautiful sculptures from it. I am always amazed at a person who can brave a blizzard of troubles and then slip and fall in a flurry.
There are those who are uniquely qualified to run into the storm and rescue the ones who have fallen or been buried. These brave individuals are those who are willing to risk injury to help us when we cannot help ourselves. It may be the person who stops and changes your tire in a downpour. It may be someone who brings you soup when you are sick. It may be the brave men in uniform who run into the gunfire to end a conflict and save lives. It might be the men who enter a burning building to extinguish the blaze. It may be the one who binds a wound and takes you to a place to be cared for. Or possibly the volunteers who come to rebuild after the wrath of a storm ravage a community. Without these people our world would be unlivable.
But every one of us is capable of doing something for someone. It may be a smile at the homeless man who staggers past your house each day. It may be a kind word to a stranger who is in agony. Often it is that friend who puts their arms around you and tells you every thing will be all right. We may know that it will not be all right but having someone care enough to try to bear the burden is a comfort. Sometimes just being present during turmoil and sitting silently with a parent, wife, or child in the emergency room.
We are not all equipped to be mechanics, carpenters, firemen, police officers, EMTs and doctors, but we can all offer love and support. We can send a flower, make a phone call, or visit a lonely soul and by so doing comfort those grieving. Anyone can offer a pat on the back, a hug, or a kiss to someone who is hurting. Most of us can write letters, not necessarily long epistles, but just a short “I am thinking of you” or “Just wanted you to know I care” and lift the spirits of some lonely soul longing for contact from another human. Every one can offer someone a shoulder to cry on.
We are all capable of listening. Not judging and giving advice, but simply lending an ear to someone who needs to talk. Some of my most cherished friends are those who listened to my tales of conflict and woe. Someone said that God gave us two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we talk. Often I am afflicted with a tongue that fans the winds too long and too often, but sometimes I can just sit and hear what another needs to verbalize. Many times when I am listening I have to hold my tongue in check to refrain from giving advice. I am a fixer. I fix cars, houses, machines and I sometimes have to force my instinct to repair to stay when it wants to run loose.
We live in a world of broken things and broken people. We cannot repair everything. But just maybe we can fix a few things and make our world a happier more comfortable place to live.

People in the wind

I am amazed at the way people come into and out of our lives like leaves blown by the wind. Some people are like that stray dog that comes by the house and allows you to pet it and then wanders away never to be seen again. Others are like the little burrs that stick to you when you walk in the woods; they are painful until you get rid of them – which is better than those like the stuff you step in and wind up scraping off your shoe with a stick. Some are like those beautiful spring mornings where the dew lays on the grass like sparkling diamonds and the fragrance of new blossoms lingers on the air then all too soon is gone - lost in the heat of summer. Then there are those that are like your old battered jeans, worn out sneakers, and threadbare T-shirt that you cant wait to change into when you get home – you can be yourself around them and feel right at home. They rustle and blow in the winds of change, a swirling rainbow of shapes and colors that makes out world a brighter place to live.

Mr. Fixit

I have noticed over the years that people who do different jobs have predictable reactions to the problems others. If you have a doctor for a friend and you are telling them about the problem they will ask what caused the problem and when did it start. A psychologist or other person in mental health will ask how you feel about the problem. An accountant will want to know if the problem is worth the trouble. A scientist will try to dissect the problem and discover the internal workings. A state road worker will lean on the nearest shovel and stare at you blankly then leave to get coffee. I am a mechanic, or I was till I got hurt, and my first reaction to hearing that a friend has a problem is to try to fix it. I understand things in parts and pieces and their relationship to each other. I have to hold myself in check in order to not take out my emotional hammer and whack the problem a few times to see if it will fit after all. I want to disassemble the offending trouble and find the malfunctioning element, repair or replace it, then put every thing back in the same order. I have found that this approach works great with cars, televisions, computers, air conditioners, and remote controls, but is somewhat less effective on humans. For some reason people are loathe to allow me to take them apart and see what in wrong in their innards. To me a broken heart should be fixable with duct tape and a few staples, and jumbled thoughts should be jerked out, aligned and replaced. Confusion should be easy enough to clear up after prying the cranium open and blowing out all the cobwebs and debris that clutter the cog work of the brain. Crying can be fixed by rerouting the dear ducts into the esophagus. But unfortunately there is no simple way to repair the damage done by broken hearts, jumbled thoughts and confusion. You see mechanical things have no feeling. A car doesn’t fail to start because it is no comfortable with the starter’s attitude. A refrigerator never ceases to cool because it is depressed and doesn’t freeze the entire house because it is manic.