What I Love

This probably should be a post over on  the main blog but I felt like visiting my old home so here I am. Who knows, I may move it over there or continue it.

Been thinking quite hard about what I love and have decided that I am not doing enough to focus on doing those things that make my heart sing. Not spending enough time with those people I love most and just not as happy because I am not doing what I should be doing with my time.

So my task is to figure out how to change this. My goal is to do it sooner than later because all I am doing now is wasting time I can't get back.

I feel like I am on the verge of something huge but in order to make it happen I have to fight through the muck and mire that are slowing me down.

Some of those things are of my own creation and others are outside of my control but ultimately it is up to me to decide how to respond. I can be proactive or reactive with that response but I can't be both.

That is not just because it is contradictory but because I can't accept it. I have to draw my line in the sand and make the changes happen because I can't tolerate anything less.

Dear Crazy Neighbor

Dear Crazy Neighbor,

Today is not a good day to mess with me. I haven't had my coffee yet. I have too much work, too little time and that is real fire coming from my nostrils.

I know that I am not the only one in the neighborhood to receive your special attention but that doesn't mean that I feel any less irritation with your need to come witness. I haven't any interest, need or desire to hear about your love for the lord.

There is no saving my soul. Just accept that it is beyond help and repair and that if you insist on continuing I will set up an altar on your porch and slaughter an ox, a chicken, a duck, two goats and a lamb. It will be done all in the name of Satan and for good measure I will see that Ozzy Osbourne performs live, except we won't use the "I am giving a way a colonoscopy" man.

No ma'am I will ensure that I will find the guy that used to bite the heads off of bats.

Hell, I might even try to revive the US festival. With a little bit of luck I'll have a bunch of bands show up and you'll wake up to something like this:
I can't help but smile at the thought of all this. You have pushed, prodded and poked me for the last time and I am not the only one.

The whole freaking neighborhood is ready to take up a collection to help you and your freaky-deaky brood move. Believe me, they won't lose a moment of sleep over the sacrifice and the concert.

Hell, the Johnsons and the Keepstexiovichs have already asked if they can work as roadies and I have firm commitments from the Marmosets, Pavlovichs and Craptonks to work security.

Sadly you are so delusional that I don't think you'll recognize this note to be a poorly written joke. You won't think of it as satire and will respond by writing another one of those 12 page single spaced, double sided letters that make Jack and Jill look like Pulitzer Prize writing.

So I might as well end this and grab my cup of Joe. Sometimes Monday's suck.

I Am A Lonely Man



Outside the sky is blue and covered in flecks of white dots that double as clouds. Cumulus nimbus is what my junior high school teacher called them, at least I think that is what he said. Can't say that I remember all that well, or maybe the problem is that I remember far too well. I remember the days when I fit in and felt like a part of society.

I know, it sounds screwy. If you know me you'd never have a clue that I am a lonely man. You wouldn't guess that my days feel like they have no meaning at all. I am a good actor. That smile I paste across my face and the silly banter are all part of my disguise. A shield that I use to keep people from seeing that the man is nothing more than shell of a person.

I know, you're thinking that it sounds tired, a cliche and somewhat pathetic to say these things. It is hard for me to write them and even harder for me to accept that the boy who showed so much promise grew into the man who has yet to fulfill one of his dreams. Not one single dream, not one.

My friend Mike says that the reason that I haven't managed to fulfill one single dream is that they aren't ordinary dreams. They aren't the type of thing that you can just do. He says that I should take it easy on myself because dream fulfillment doesn't take place over night. He says that it is better this way because if I fly too close to the sun than I'll really earn the name Icarus.

I tell him that I need to do better, that I can't wait for Godot to show up and help me. He just laughs and tells me that I am being too hard on myself and that if I would just ease up I'd be happier.

Maybe he is right.

The thing is that when I look around all I see are people who look happier than me. All around me are couples holding hands, looking dreamily into each other's eyes. All around me are people who walk confidently into wherever it is they are going. Surely they don't feel like I do. They couldn't possibly exude that much confidence without feeling it.

Mike says that I am crazy. Mike says that some of those people are hiding behind their smiles, just like I do. I tell Mike that I feel like one of those sneetches that didn't get the star. I feel like the kid who missed hearing the teacher's instructions. Everyone else knows how to play the game of life and I don't.

Every now and then Mike makes sense to me so I try to do as he says. I take his words to heart and try to apply them. I look around my office and imagine that they are all scared and lonely too. It works for a while and then I start to get nervous.

I start wondering if maybe Mike isn't confused. I start thinking that maybe Mike isn't so smart and that maybe he is the one that needs to be set straight. And every now and then I find myself in a heated argument with Mike because sometimes he needs to be confronted about these things. I may feel like I am lost. I may feel like I am the only one who doesn't get it, but even I know a thing or two.

I may hide behind my smile, but it doesn't mean that I haven't learned something. And then in the middle of my righteous indignation I remember that Mike really isn't such a good role model. He really doesn't know any more than I do.

And most importantly I remember that the reason I have never introduced my mother to Mike is because if she saw me introduce her to the guy in the mirror she'd think that I was making a joke and she might laugh. And if she laughed that would hurt Mike's feelings. He might not know so much, but he is still a person and you shouldn't intentionally hurt a person's feelings.

*****
Sometimes I forget when and where I met Mike. I don't know if it really matters because Mike is the best and truest friend I got. He is the only one who never leaves me and the only one who listens to all I got to say.

And believe me, I got a lot.

There used to be others. There used to be them that got my best interest in mind and those that claimed they did. I don't remember all of their names because when you live the hard scrabble life you start to unlearn that which you once knew.

You can't carry all them hopes and dreams you once had because they aren't real. The streets are real, oh yeah, they are real. If you ain't real you don't make it for very long on the streets.

That is part of why I like Mike and why I need him. He keeps me focused. He doesn't let me feel bad about what happened because it wasn't my fault.

We were walking down Michigan Avenue. It was bright and sunny. She was holding my hand and she never let go. Even after that car jumped the curb and pinned her against the building she never stopped holding my hand.

I tried to pull it off of her. Tried to push it. Did everything that I could do but it didn't matter, cuz she died anyway.

I couldn't save her. Couldn't hold her and make her feel better or stop the pain. Don't know why it hit her and not me. I was so much bigger. Why didn't it hit me. Why did they have to take her. Why not me. She was better than I was and so much better than I am now.

She told me to stop screaming. Said that I should calm down, even as the life was running out of her and heading somewhere else she was taking care of me.

I should have protected her better. I should have seen it coming. I should have heard it. Could have done something more, I know I could have.

*****


Mike tells me that I should finish letting go and just forget. He says that there ain't no point in thinking about her or remembering 'cuz it only hurts us.


Mike says that it is good that I hit the driver 'cuz he was drunk and it is his fault that we are what we are today. He says that I should be proud that it took so many people to pull me off of that guy. He says that it is good that I crippled that guy because I am crippled now.


But sometimes I don't like it when he says it because she wouldn't have wanted it. She would have told me it was an accident and that I should let go. But that is the thing, I did let go. That accident forced me to let go.


I ain't who I was and haven't been for years. Now I am just a shadow who walks the streets. Mostly I keep to myself, but sometimes people mess with me. usually I growl at them and they run away but sometimes the stupid and mean ones do more.


That is ok with me. I like stupid and mean because when I am angry I fight. And when I fight I forget about being so damn lonely.

Creating Content

Copyblogger posted the infographic below today. It is worth looking at.

What Marketers Know About You

Can't say that I am surprised by any of this but I am not especially pleased either. Read the clip and then read the whole story.
“We have the capacity to send every customer an ad booklet, specifically designed for them, that says, ‘Here’s everything you bought last week and a coupon for it,’ ” one Target executive told me. “We do that for grocery products all the time.” But for pregnant women, Target’s goal was selling them baby items they didn’t even know they needed yet.
“With the pregnancy products, though, we learned that some women react badly,” the executive said. “Then we started mixing in all these ads for things we knew pregnant women would never buy, so the baby ads looked random. We’d put an ad for a lawn mower next to diapers. We’d put a coupon for wineglasses next to infant clothes. That way, it looked like all the products were chosen by chance.
“And we found out that as long as a pregnant woman thinks she hasn’t been spied on, she’ll use the coupons. She just assumes that everyone else on her block got the same mailer for diapers and cribs. As long as we don’t spook her, it works.”


Read the whole story...

Flash Fiction #2133

"I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for their religion -
 I have shudder’d at it. 
I shudder no more. 
I could be martyr’d for my religion 
Love is my religion 
And I could die for that. 
I could die for you."  
John Keats 

You once told me that you would never forgive me for not finding you sooner. You said that you couldn't believe that two people could be so perfectly matched and yet live so far apart.

I nodded my head in understanding. You weren't looking for a response or asking for an answer so I remained silent. I knew that you were venting and just wanted to be heard.

You said our situation sucked and I nodded my head again. I didn't agree with your assessment but that wasn't the time to tell you that you were wrong. I opened my arms and you stepped into them. I wrapped them around you and stroked your hair.

I could feel you trembling and I knew that you were crying. I left your head on my shoulder and hugged you tighter. When I shifted you wrapped your legs around my body and I walked us to the couch.

We sat there in the dark, our bodies still intertwined and I listened to you breathe. I felt your hands running up and down my back but still I remained silent. Some might have suggested that my silence was an effort to leverage my position for power but it was no such thing.

I knew that you knew that. I also knew that I couldn't fix what was broken. All I could do was wait it out. It wasn't easy. It is not my nature to just hold still and accept what comes but sometimes we have no choice.

You kissed me hard on the mouth and I knew that I had a choice to make. I could push things in one of two directions. You were ready to give yourself to me but I knew that it was part of your desire to say goodbye but I hesitated to take what was freely offered.

I had already started the process of mentally moving my gear back into my man cave and I knew that soft and loving wasn't something that I could offer that night. So I decided that you would have to make it clear that other options were open to me.

Besides I knew that if you made that decision it would be easier for you. In the dark I wrapped my fingers in your hair and stared at the outline of your face. There wasn't any need for words. You understood and so did I.


I Made A Mistake

I made a fairly significant mistake two days ago but didn't discover it until today. Been doing my best not to beat myself up too badly because mistakes are a part of life and there is no benefit in staring in the mirror to call myself an idiot.

But that doesn't remove the irritation or the sting because now I have created an enormous amount of work for myself and I am frustrated. Frustrated because this was the kind of mistake that I rarely make. On the scale of stupidity it ranks just above Jackass and somewhere below moron.

So I am doing my best to fix things. I have placed the Dunce cap on my head, stuck the gum on the tip of my nose and am sitting in the corner facing the wall.

The good news is that I know how it happened and I have a solution that will prevent this from happening again. Unfortunately that doesn't prevent me from having to shovel some shit and wallow in mud.

That is because this particular project doesn't lend itself to speed. It is tedious and highly detailed. So I stand here before you and my children doing my best to be somewhat graceful.

And now that I have taken a moment to vent let me direct you to recent posts that you might be interested in reading:


And

Our Priorities Are Skewed

Whitney Houston died today at age 48. The media reports haven't said what the cause of death but there is much speculation that it was due to drug use. That could mean that it was an overdose or that it was from complications from prior drug use.

It makes me angry to see how many people are tweeting about this. It makes me angry to see all of the Facebook status reports and the million news stories that have surfaced about her death.

I am sorry for her friends and family because 48 is far too young. It is a tragic death but unless I am seriously mistaken it is one that could have been avoided. She wouldn't be the first person to die as a result of their addiction or things related to it and she won't be the last.

Don't lecture me about how addiction is a disease and that I am being too hard on Whitney because this isn't about Whitney. If it was I would still say it is tragic and I would tell you that I have friends and family who have battled addiction. I'd tell you that I believe that there is a disease involved here, but again it is not about Whitney.

I am angry because the world is filled with hungry and homeless people. I am angry because I know more than a few people who are fighting to save their homes and feed their families. I am angry because healthcare is ridiculously expensive and in more than a few cities public education is broken.

I am angry because we have the ability to fix these things but we aren't. I am angry because I get emails from friends/family that are Democrats/Republicans that tell me about how the other side is evil. I am angry because I am tired of the emails, the whining, crying and complaining.

Shut the fuck up and start emailing me with solutions. Start offering suggestions for how we can fix what is broken and stop sending me this political crap about why Obama/Newt/Pelois/Gingrich/Reid is going to destroy America.

I'd write more but I understand there is this great reality television show coming on and ooh, shiny...look how pretty that light is....

The Not So Silent Scream

 "If you want to be a great writer you need to be able to live and relive your pain. You have to touch it, feel it and roll around in it. That isn't hyperbole, it is just how it works." 
I wrote those words and I believe wholeheartedly in them. Some of the best writing I have come up with has been when I have found a way to tap into the soft places that still retain the memories of failure and pain that hasn't ever dissipated.

Or maybe it has. Maybe the pain has gone but somehow I have found a way to go back in time and relive things that tore me up. Maybe they still do. Maybe it is because I feel like I found the person who completes me in every way and then I lost her.

Maybe it is because I feel like we were given something magical, majestic and mysterious and then it was taken away. A thief came in the night and stole it and when he did he took my heart along with it. Maybe that thief meant to wreak havoc upon my soul. Maybe the purpose was to create chaos and devastation.

Well, he did it. He tore me up something fierce and that fragile male ego I carry around hasn't been able to accept it. I didn't ask for this. You came when I wasn't looking and you showed me that I hadn't been living. I had only been pretending.

And I wasn't even aware of it. I was walking through life half asleep and then you found me. Or maybe it is more accurate to say that we found each other.

Today I stand here screaming at the heavens because the fucking universe isn't being straight with me. I don't know what kind of lesson this is supposed to teach me, because there is supposed to be some sort of lesson here right.

Be direct. Tell me what it is. Tell me what I did in a past life that was wrong or what I did in this one that provided me with the pleasure of this experience.

I try not to compare my situation to others because we all have our challenges. Well it is hard not to look around and ask who decided that it would be a good idea to take a barbed pole and shove it so far up my rear it bruised my tonsils.

Tell me why I am supposed to be the one who walks around spitting blood and feeding upon fire. That jackass I saw earlier isn't struggling to make ends meet. He has ridiculous amounts of money flowing through his fingers all because he was born into it.

WTF is that about.

I know, they say that G-d doesn't give you more than you can handle but just because you I walk through hell covered in gasoline is no reason to make me do it.

I keep looking at these words and wondering what I am doing with them. They barely make sense and have little to no feel or flow to them. And that makes me angry too.

Mostly I am angry because I know that she is out there and that she needs me. I know this because I feel it. And every time I write that down or say it out loud I look at myself and think that I sound like some weepy teenage boy.

I am not that guy. Maybe I once was but I am not him. So I keep going and I have these moments where it feels like people are screaming inside my head to call her and tell her to stop acting like a fool. They keep telling me that she is desperate to lean on me and to share her pain, ease her soul.

And it kills me because I know that she was never closer with any one else. I know that if she let down her guard she would let it all out and she would be safe in my arms because I was her hero and I would be again if she would only let me.

But the hero is so very angry that lightning shoots from his eyes and fire from his fingertips. He who is afraid of almost nothing is afraid she will reject him...again.

So he stands on the beach and watches the waves roll in. He swims out past the breakers and rides the waves back in. He stands alone and apart because that is safe. She doesn't want weakness but he is not weak. No one who dances in the fire like this is weak.

Mostly he is confused and unsure. Still the voices inside his head keep screaming at him to rescue her but he wonders if maybe that isn't just what he wants to hear.

Chaos and confusion work together in a confluence of cacophonous creation. It is a convoluted way of saying he doesn't know what the fuck to do so he hopes that by focusing on his own crap some things will become more clear.

Or maybe he'll just suffer from paralysis of analysis. Ah, sometimes life can be so bittersweet.

Valentine's Day Ramblings

I am preparing material for a bigger post:

A Valentine's Day Fable


"I am tired of beginning sentences with “if.” It frustrates me to hear the word pass through my lips and begin some sentence in which I express disappointment or regret about things I could or should have done. Life is not meant to be lived by looking backwards at the places we have been and the cries of what could have been.

It is not. Life is for the present and the future. The past is your garage. It is a closet stuffed full of experiences that we hope that we have learned from so that we don’t make the same mistakes. But it is the place where we can take refuge from some of the challenges of the day.

I seek balance between the two. I search for a way to reconcile these things so that I can live the life I want to live. Some times it is hard and I punish myself for the mistakes. I cry out in anger and frustration and wonder how I found myself stuck in this place.

We said that we would find a way. We promised that no matter what happened we would hold hands and overcome the challenges. And now you are gone.

You told me that things were too hard that life was too stressful. My intensity made it harder. And for that I am sorry. I can only be who I am. A boy who fell in love with a girl and has never stopped loving her."

Halftime


Dear June,

I know that my crazy woman isn't much of a sports fan so there is a good chance that you didn't see the video above yet but even if you did it doesn't matter, because it is that good.

I know that you appreciate Clint as much as I do but even if you didn't I would still show this to you. I'd still show this video to you and we'd talk about it. We'd talk about it because we communicate more effectively than most people do.

We know things about each other and about life. We have lived through some pretty tough moments and stared down more challenges than many. Others have had tougher roads to walk than we have and others have had easier but that doesn't matter.

What matters is that we never gave up....not completely.

Maybe things got tough and we decided it was too hard to keep going on. Maybe it got to be too hard, too rough too crazy so we went out separate ways but that separation was never complete, has never been complete.

You think I am crazy for saying that the connection wasn't ever severed and you wonder why I never gave up hope. Well, that is because my job is to carry the load through this particular time. My job is to put you on my shoulders and walk through the fire so that you don't get burned.

That is what I do. I am good at it. I know how to dance in the flames and I know how to hold my breath underwater for longer than most. But I know that there is going to come a time when my legs are going to falter and that burning inside my lungs is going to hurt too much.

And that is when I am going to need you to remind me about all this. When the fog gets thick around my eyes and I am so tired that I can't see straight I am going to need you to help me come home. But I am not worried about that because you have always been my north star and I know that even if when I am exhausted I can look up in the sky and see you smiling down upon me.

Sooner or later I'll get back up and start walking and it won't matter what is in my way or how far I have to go because I know that you'll be standing there waiting for me.

And that is enough. Just knowing that will give me enough motivation to take one more step and I'll find you. I'll find you. So you hang on. You keep going and I will get there.

It is halftime for us too but the good news is that the second half is going to be so amazing we won't even remember how hard it was during the first. It is going to take a bit of time but we are going to get there, just you wait and Johnny will come marching home.

Dancing


It is Saturday night and the dance floor is packed full of people. Everywhere you look there are bodies moving, some with rhythm and some without but still moving.

Ann and a few of her friends are dancing together. It is one of those things that women sometimes do in packs. I don’t claim to know much about women, let alone understand them but I know that the pack means that some if no all of them are single.

I am standing in the corner, beer in hand, head bobbing in time with the music. I am watching and waiting for the liquid courage to kick in. I am not a dancer. I don’t have the graceful movements that make women swoon over my moves. I know this and am very self conscious about it.

Sometimes I wish that I could move like Fred Astaire because I could grab a partner and make her into my Ginger Rogers. We’d glide across the dance floor and somewhere during the dance there would be a moment. She’d look in my eyes and I’d smile at her. A connection would be made and I’d know that if I tried to kiss her she wouldn’t turn her head to the side or use her hand to stop me.

Jack, the ever so suave dancer wouldn’t try that, at least not immediately. He’d make her wait and let the anticipation build. Let her wonder what it would be like. Let her imagination run wild and then at the perfect moment I’d help her find out if truth matched imagination.

At least that is the fantasy and the dream. In reality I know that I am...

Want to know more? Click here.

He Is Right


To June, From Johnny

Dear June,

Someone asked me if my favorite 70s girl would prefer to have her bell rung or dance by herself to I will Survive.

I said that I know she'd rather have her bell rung and was promptly asked what that meant. Well, you know me and how much I value giving someone a straight answer. I don't wear a sweater because you are cold or walk in the sun when I can't see it shining.

Been strolling through the grapevines and down Coventry. Made it over to Tommy's for a bite to eat but skipped out on Bialy's. Too many carbs and too many years on this body. Yes, it is sad but true- I have made some changes based upon age.

I hate to admit that but a man has to do what he has to do and I did.

That wasn't the first time nor will it be the last. It is funny how life can throw you the kind of curveball you couldn't have ever imagined seeing. I used to be able to hit any pitch that came my way. Low and away, high and tight, inside or outside- didn't matter.

If you put it anywhere close to me I could get a piece of my bat on it. And then I hit a period of time where I couldn't come close to touching anything. I struck out every which way. Didn't matter what I did- it was like I was cursed.

Made me angry. I was frustrated.

For a while I couldn't figure out what to do. Wandered over to the Burning River and offered to sacrifice something, someone, anything and the universe told me to relax.

I said, "Hey universe- don't tell me to relax. Just give me a hand out of this freaking ditch I fell into." The universe laughed at me and I told it to shut its piehole or risk my wrath.

Needless to say, the universe laughed and then I sneezed. Not sure if there is any relationship between the two but I know you like details.

Fact is I know more about you than you want to admit or accept. Not because I have hired private detectives to follow you around and give me a complete dossier on you. That would be creepy and unnecessary.

Nope, I know these things for the same reasons you know them about me. Just because. In fact if you were sitting on my lap I bet you could solve Fermat's Theorem. But knowing you it probably wouldn't happen because you'd try to get a rise out of me and I'd fight it off just because I can.

June, you're singing that song again. You may not realize it, but I hear it. And I suspect that I am singing it too. Might be fun to do a bit of harmonizing, a duet if you will.

Think about it. No need for us to do any consulting with Clark. Don't have to check in with Spaner either.

Sweetcheeks lives!

Lightning Is About To Strike

Lightning is about to strike again, not a doubt in my mind that we're going to see it live and experience in 3D. Some lips are bound to ...