The Big Idea

I have noticed a quirkiness about my handwriting in the weeks since I returned to keeping a journal, and using cursive once again. I mean other than slowly relearning how important it is to have a proper grip on your pen, or how seldom I need to write the letter “L” at the beginning of a sentence on a day-to-day basis.The thing the oddest I find is that I tend to capitalize the word “idea” regardless of where it falls in a sentence. As I look back across the many pages I have scribbled since the middle of October, this would seem to be the only word I have this problem with. I don’t have tbigidea2his problem when typing or writing any formal correspondence.

It’s as if the word itself referenced some higher concept deserving of a proper noun. Perhaps a dignitary from some foreign land requiring some formal address; some oddly dressed ambassador from the forgotten recesses of my thought process. Or maybe some Napoleonic abstraction puffing out it’s chest to make up for it’s otherwise small stature.

When I first noticed it I would angrily scratch out chunks of text, often rewriting entire sentences just to obscure this slight offense to proper style. Lately though, I have been embracing this little errant piece of capitalization. Regarding it as if it were some old friend. Waving at me from across the room, trying to draw my attention. Jumping up and down shouting “Hey! Look at me!” in some flailing attempt to point out the very thing I’ve been looking for all along.

Or maybe I’m thinking too much about it and just need to slow down and pay more attention to what I am doing as jot down my random thoughts, before I’ve even finished my first cup of coffee.

I Never Meant to Sleep

I never meant to fall asleep,
Before my work was done.

I felt so weary,
I just laid my head down,
Only for a bit.

The room was cold,
I draped the blanket about me.

My eyes burned,
My head throbbed,
I drew down the blind.

I dozed for that perfect moment,
In the warmth,
Soft and dark.
I dreamt of abundance,
A world of peace.

You threw the blinds open,
I was awake once again.

Jagged rays of midday declared,
Here still is toil,
A place full of strife.

I never meant to dream,
Before our work was done.

Thank You Appendix

“What are you thankful for?” The unavoidable question that will come out of my child’s mouth this year as our small family sits around the dinner table this year. She’ll ask it out of genuine curiosity, out of a sense of tradition, and out of a desire to deflect my attention when I tell her she needs to eat something other than cornbread. I’ve known the question is coming for weeks and I’ve been trying to think of what I am actually thankful for. It’s been kind of a crap year I suppose. It started right off the bat with my wife losing her job and well it just kind of gets harder to pick out good news from there. So I guess I’ll settle for being grateful for bad news.

This year I am thankful for appendicitis. Specifically my wife needing to be taken to the ER with severe abdominal cramps early this summer. She had emergency surgery to have the offending vestigial organ removed. It was then that they found the tumor.

A carcinoid tumor. It’s a slow-growing type of cancer. It often goes undetected for years. If her appendix hadn’t gone then quite frankly the chances of it getting noticed before it was extremely advanced was slim. She was scheduled for another surgery quickly and the rest of the tumor, along with about two feet of intestine was removed.

This little disaster resulted in an out pouring of sympathy and support from friends and family.  Some of this support came in the form of a care package, that included two gift cards, one for a restaurant, and one for amazon. They were just enough to let us shuffle expenses around and kept us from making a hard decision between her post-op medications, groceries and other household needs in the following months.

That package also included a journal and a pen, that after letting it stare at me accusingly for a while I took up and have now been using daily to unclutter my brain every morning. This in turn, has caused me to start blogging again. Because why write it down if you don’t intend it to be read? Doing this has caused me to recently go back and examine some of my earlier work and I am thankful for the realization that it doesn’t entirely suck.

I mean don’t get me wrong there’s some real turds there, but I am happy to have found quite a few I’m somewhat pleased with. Especially the 100 word posts I’ve made but then I have always been a fan of brevity.

So yeah, thanks to my wife’s appendix that no longer is.

Oh yeah. I am thankful for my family and friends, my pets (even the emotionally needy rat terrier), lollipops, indoor plumbing, and all the rest of that stuff.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have turnips to peel.

Percolated

I find myself at the time worn coffe shop once again. I had to lock my bike up a block a way this morning. The racks out front were a boneyard of derelict frames, hanging limply by their u-locks, rusting away, picked over by thieves and scrap men; with fresh corpses abandoned by the previous night’s bar patrons too inebriated to remember where they left them. I’m just rubbing my eyes and wondering why I still come here. Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe the ambiance.

The roaring, hammering sound of the motor on the boom lift that is being used to do maintenance work on the upper stories of the plaza’s buildings isn’t adding much to the atmosphere, nor is the hairy-backed sweat troll operating it to get around the courtyard. The high whining of his power tools add to the engine noises of the passing cars, their exhaust enriching the total experience. It’s still early, but any minute I can expect the panhandlers to start cruising through, or the free loaders trying to occupy a nearby table on the patio while they try to drink their smuggled in tall-boys of Natural Light. I should be able to empathize with them. I was homeless once, after all, and a drunk to boot. Those two things do pair so nicely. Still that might as well be worlds away from where I’m sitting now.

The old crowd is gone. The troupe of miscreants and ruffians that I ran with hung out here. Eventually most of them took jobs here, before growing up and either moving away to chase a dream, or just plain got a straight job that occupies most of the day. We knew everyone here and they knew us. Now the place is staffed by an unnamed succession of faceless hipsters, and the customers don’t seem to talk to one another much anymore. The whole world’s been built up around the place.

So why do I still come here? Maybe I’m just keeping up appearances. Sitting at an outdoor cafe, a steaming mug of hot coffee in front of me with a lollipop hanging out of my mouth (I gave up smoking  a few years ago) and scrawling secret notes in my journal. It all serves quite well in maintaining the bullshit, arrogant, intellectual ideal that I hold of myself. The coffee isn’t really that good today, I don’t think it ever was. Thin stuff, not enough bitterness to promote proper thinking. Weak coffee percolates weak ideas.

Still I suppose it does me good to get out of the house.

Percolated

The Last Drop.

For three days now, he awoke to find an empty coffee pot.

For three days he had been forced to brew a fresh pot before being able to sit on the steps, gather his thoughts and become human again, in the perfect warmth of the morning sun.

This particular morning he watched her pour it.

Not quite all of it. A small sip remained at the bottom, just enough to tease his craving.

He was sure that in some places this was grounds for divorce.

Not here though. Here he was left with only two choices.

Love or a bludgeon.

The Coffee Technician

FB_Coffee_Post.jpeg

I posted that thought as it occurred to me, whilst standing in line at local cafe. I was feeling put out because I was stuck behind a slew of meticulously dressed down tattooed scenesters. I was feeling my beard get longer as they cheerfully order their chai lattes, soy milk mochachinnos, and navigating the sandwich menu trying to remove all the joy from the items that weren’t already vegan. The slacker on duty took each order individually and then listlessly went about the motions of making each drink. All the time I stood impatiently annoyed at the needless complexity involved; angrily certain that the whole process could be sped up if the barista would just put some effort into it.

Finally the herd thinned and I was able to approach their comrade behind the counter and order my simple cup of simple, hot, black coffee. It literally took less than a minute for the counter person to dispense it from the air pot and serve it up with a smirk of boredom, and ring me up with a snotty look. I dropped my change in her tip jar and began to walk away.

That’s when it struck me.

It might be me that’s got it all wrong.

This poor beleaguered barista had been selected from all the other job candidates She has spent months if not years practicing making coffee drinks1. Had to be trained to properly tamp down the espresso. It had to take hours to learn to pour just the right amount of foam on a cappuccino. Constantly wrestling with that damned finicky machine to get just the right concentration of water that makes a ristretto well, a ristretto, not just simply an espresso shot. They ceaselessly have to argue with nitpicky hipsters over the difference between a lungo and an americano. I mean, I sure as hell don’t know the difference between a mocha and a mocha breve2. Do you? Not to mention the all the other day-to-day horseshit involved with customer service jobs. I mean this person has dedicated a considerable amount of their time, energy and brainpower to become competent at their job. And here I come, this unenlightened jerk. this smug dipshit who has the temerity to be so basic as to order a fucking cup of house blend, without so much as adding a god damned shot of espresso to make it a red-eye. I’m essentially wasting her fucking time over here.

Feeling like a bit of an ass for being so impatient, I turned back to the counter to throw a little extra in the tip jar by way of silent apology.

And that damned half-wit was too busy staring gaped mouthed at a ceiling fan, fidgeting with her nose ring to notice.


  1.  To be clear once you add anything to it you’re having a coffee drink and not coffee, and that’s fine but let’s just fess up to that and move on. 
  2. Actually I do but, for the purposes of this rant, let’s just pretend. 

The Worst Halloween

One fall, when I was about nine, I found myself exploring through one of those party stores that stock costumes all year round, and there it was. This cheap plastic hook with a bell-shaped cuff that hid your hand to make it look like it had been chopped off. That’s when I knew I was going to be to be a pirate for Halloween.

Understand, as a child, I was obsessed with pirates. I was into the other typical childhood things of the time; dinosaurs, Matchbox cars, Star Wars etc. But pirates were always cool. In movies, books, and games from swashbucklers, to scurvy dogs I was fascinated with all of them. One of my prized books as a child was a large slim book full of portraits and facts about the really famous pirates. One of my favorite video games ever was Sid Meyer’s Pirates, in which you got to sail the Caribbean as a privateer, plunder ships, duel with other sea captains and engage in other forms of skullduggery (There was an actual story line about rescuing lost members of your family from indentured servitude but frankly it didn’t seem that important my first couple times through.).

Halloween was still a ways off and I had to plead and whine at my dad to get it for me, but I convinced him.. We left the store with the hook and an eye-patch with a Jolly Roger on it. Then I had to wait.

From that moment all through October I chattered about my awesome costume. To my parents, my friends, to anyone who wouldn’t flee in terror from some overly enthused fourth grader, ceaselessly prattling about on about how cool it was going to be when he was a pirate. A striped shirt was acquired at some point. Some make-up crayons would be used to draw on a five-o’clock shadow, for that much-needed sea dog look. My dad was going to loan me one of his bandanna’s for my head. I spent weeks practicing my “aarghs” and “avasts”.

I was, to use the parlance of the time, totally stoked.

Then with less than a week to go, I did the unthinkable, the unforgivable. I struck my mother.

I don’t remember why. Probably some minor punishment for a petty transgression had set me into a fit of blind hot childish rage. Why wasn’t important. What was important is the fact that I hit her. Just like that it was all gone. I was grounded for a period of time that would encompass both my birthday and Halloween. I wailed, I screamed, I cried, and finally settled into moping. It was no use. Everything in my life had been ruined. Halloween, my favorite holiday gone. My awesome pirate costume, that had taken weeks to put together rendered useless.

I entered into a state of denial. Surely she couldn’t mean it. I mean she had to be bluffing, just to teach me a lesson. If I just am on my best behavior between now and Halloween I’d earn a reprieve right? May be I could barter my way out of it. Keep my room clean, take out the trash, maybe do the dishes every day for a week. There had to be some way.

There was a slender ray of hope when, the day before, on my birthday I was given presents. Clearly  if I had been still loved enough to have birthday presents, I would be allowed trick-or-treating. When I started talking about my costume, however, I was quickly reminded the there would be no such joy in my  life this year. Upon hearing this reaffirmation of my punishment the rest of my birthday took place in my room alternating between, sulking and sobbing with the occasional rage filled screaming fit.

I spent my Halloween that year either crying in my bedroom or sulking in my living room hiding behind the arm of the couch, staring in envious embarrassment as all of my friends from school, one by one showed up to ring the doorbell. Festooned in their holiday disguises and cheerfully yelling, “Trick-or-Treat!,” as my mother answered the door and patiently dropped pieces of delicious candy in their sacks and plastic orange jack-o-lantern shaped pails.

None of these costumes were as cool mine would have been.

The evening passed and the number of trick-or-treaters dwindled and finally Halloween was over. The hook and eye-patch got buried somewhere in the house, I never looked at them again. I don’t think I ever wore the shirt.

At some point I aged out of trick-or-treating. As I grew older my costumes for parties were always thrown together at the last-minute, or decided for me based on the need for a theme, or maintaining harmony in a relationship required a matching costume. Now a days, Halloween is about my own child’s experience, not mine. Plus, frankly, I don’t have much time, money, or energy to put into a costume for myself.

To this day though, I still feel  a bit of sadness and a little regret each year to remember that I never got to be a pirate.

Happy Halloween, and as always Happy Monday.

From the Bottom

How far down this hole did you crawl. How long did you travel through the maze ruined dreams and cast aside ambitions. Just to have a cool place to lay with the failures amassed. Here you’ve been for so long, eyes shut, looking back on it all. The things you’ve done, the pain, the debauchery, the betrayals. The people you loved, you’ve hurt, you’ve been. It seems so clear from this far down. In all this time you have kept solace in one thought. Vitriolic optimism surfaces once again. Smiling knowing you still have so much farther down to go

 

Prompt

 

 

Thankful

I spent Thanksgiving among strangers this year. Well, I mean my wife and daughter were there but that’s pretty much the list of people I know. It was hosted at the restaurant my wife has recently found employment at. It was a fairly casual arrangement I suppose. The restaurant did the main dishes and guests were suppose to bring side dishes or deserts. Being food people my wife and I opted to bring both. The point is all these people were basically strangers to me.

For the fourteen years my wife and I have eaten Thanksgiving dinner with her family. Relationships with them however, have been disintegrating for some time now and we just finally decided we’ve had enough and no longer care to spend what little free time we have sitting in a house full of people that don’t care for each other very much, just waiting for the first person to loose their shit or to start being openly racist and thus causing the rest of the day to be awkward and uncomfortable. So instead, this year we dined with people at her work.

This wouldn’t be the first time I had a holiday meal amidst the unknown masses. I did have a couple of them in homeless shelters and that’s about as strange as it can get. I was a different person then. For one thing I was a vagrant; and vagrants can’t afford to be antisocial. This was a world apart. Sobriety and misanthropy kept me nervous and in my little corner that I staked out, just waiting for the night to be over. This gave me a little time to reflect on a few things. Namely, what’s the big deal about this holiday anyway?

See I don’t like the holidays to begin with. I’d been holding up on not flushing this one down the crapper with the rest of them but, I couldn’t tell you why.

I mean you could say spending time with your family but I spend all of my time off with them and quite frankly we all get on each others nerves after a while.

There’s the food. I like food. I love stuffing my face until I’m sick but, I’m a good cook so is my wife. We can do that when every we want. It’s just not very practical.

Then there’s the setting aside the day for reflecting on what your grateful you  have. Well I try to do that on a fairly regular basis. Some days it’s a shorter list than others. Today’s was about fair to middling.

Things I am Thankful for:

My Wife and Daughter.

This is your standard run of the mill cop-out answer. You get it.

The Fact That My Wife Has a Job Again.

It’s been a rough several years while she has struggled to find not just a job but, one that is fairly stable. It’s amazing the level of stress that has been lifted off my mind for that. It is an added benefit that she works someplace that is nice enough to hold a holiday meal for it’s employees.

Seriously money isn’t everything but, I’ll be god damned if it doesn’t solve a multitude of modern problems.

Non-alcoholic Beer.

It’s not a thing I keep around the house normally but I knew I would feel like having a drink by the time I got done watching a bunch of total strangers getting drunk. It’s not the perfect substitute but it makes me feel better. Something to do with dopamine, reward mechanisms, yada yada yada. I happened to have picked a fairly tasty one, so that’s a bonus.

 

Stores That Are Open On The Holidays.

There’s a lot of crap flying around the internet about where not to shop because they make employees work on Thanksgiving. There is also a lot of crap marginalizing these complaints by pointing out deployed military, emergency service and healthcare workers don’t get the day off; so why should retail workers?

First I wan’t to state how much bullshit it is to compare the two groups. The people who are military, EMS, or work in hospitals are necessary to the infrastructure of this country and/ or otherwise responsible for it’s safety and security (whether that’s what they are being used for or not is another matter entirely). They signed on to those jobs, hopefully out of some sense of civic duty and should be commended for that.

If we give the guy at Best Buy the day off no one dies. The Commies don’t win. You just can’t get your new TV/ tablet/ laptop/ unimportant-material-bullshit at door buster savings, alright. It is fucking dishonest, disrespectful and just plain god damned obnoxious to confuse that point so just stop.

That being said, just about everyone I know who cries foul about stores being open on Thanksgiving a) has the day off to complain about it and b) will end up in a grocery or convenience store at least once that day to buy that one ingredient they forgot, or to do a run for beer or smokes when they under estimate how far their vices go when they don’t have to be at work. So, I don’t care if all you bought was a pack of gum, or a gallon of gas. If you bought anything today your part of the system of consumer demand and you should all be ashamed of yourselves.

Well maybe not, ashamed per say… I mean I’m not ashamed that I had to go buy eggs, sausage and corn meal at the last minute. I’m a busy guy, or at the very least lazy, and didn’t get around to getting that shit earlier in the week so I went shopping today. Screw it. Though I was sure to be polite and thank the clerks for being there, I mean that’s just common decency.

That Thanksgiving Is Over And The Hum-Buggery Season Is Upon Us.

Now that we have overcome this last hurdle I can devote all of my energy to properly despising Christmas. You know why, and if you don’t you’re part of the problem.

Today has been canceled due to lack of interest

I was writing a light-hearted little ramble about spending the past several days sequestered in my room playing video games in the dark s and generally getting nothing done. I was going to joke around about how it’s been so nice to revisit my formative year easier. I wanted to make a jovial anecdote about the multiple choice nature of morality in the gaming world because it is just a mechanic and not a way to live life. I’ll probably still finish it, later…. maybe.

It’s been a shit weekend. We all know why.

I’ve had a shit day on a personal level.

The whole world is turning into a shit show, and I am very disappointed in all of us.

I’ll get over it. Hopefully by Wednesday.

Until then here is my dog scratching her back on the lawn.

Scratching

Let’s try to spend a few days not being asshats.

Thank you.

Happy Monday.