Friday, July 31, 2009

Little voices.


That's all I ever hear about these days is a freakin' REUNION!

I have these friends. And about a decade ago, we bonded in the heat of the Children's Theatre Wars of the late 90's. We were deep in the trenches; we were Porch People; We ate in vans, we danced in kitchens; we lived with people we liked and worked with people we loathed.

At least, I did.

Those other guys got the great casts. I got the people that made a week of listening to nails along a chalkboard seem like a vacation on some faraway tropical paradise. They got the creative, happy ones; I got the ones with the chip on their shoulders and the "I'm better than this" attitude.

I'm speaking of my second cast. My first cast was wonderful. Aaron and the crazy chick. But at least she was nice to look long as you didn't look her right in the eye, because that could spook her and make her...unpredictable.

But that SECOND cast. Boy, I still have nightmares; the most frequent one was the time they tried to KILL US by driving too fast on an icy patch of I-75. I swear I'm breaking out in a cold sweat just thinking about it.

And even when I got somebody out there to drive them home as I stayed and waited for the repairman in the cold rain, I NEVER heard so much as a "thank you."

But my wouldn't have believed it: they had a pizza and a warm pair of socks waiting for me when I got home. Aaron came rolling in, and gave me a big hug. It was lovely....until I realized that I had to go out with those CRAZY ASS BITCHES AGAIN!

Forgive me. I usually don't denigrate women like that.
But it gives you and idea of how badly it sucked.

Through a straw.
Ears first.

Eventually, one of them departed, and another one arrived. Not worse. Not better. And it was impossible to deal with them....they became, in my mind, cliche puppets: fresh faced college graduate who stood above in judgement of the material, and angry black woman who stood in judgement of everything. Not particularly interesting to work with. Half-assed at the best of times.

Lonely. Very. Very Lonely.
And I'll admit, some of that lonely I brought on myself. At the time, if I was not in a comfortable place artistically, then I was not in a comfortable place.

And I'll admit, it was hard to sleep with Jason in the next room. He was very loud, on all sorts of occasions.

Which didn't help the lonely.

So, the question of the reunion keeps coming up. And I continue to struggle with the problem of: How do I balance my desire to see my friends, and the absolute feeling of loathing I feel when faced with the prospect of seeing the others?

And since it's apparent that those people found me as hard to live with as I found THEM, why would anybody be interested in seeing me again, anyway?

I'm very confused by this.

And so, I'm not committing until I am NOT confused by this.

And just because I may not show up doesn't mean I love you any less; I would hope that went without saying. But I said it anyway.

Get off my ass about it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Photo Turns Back Time.

Recently, one of my professors retired.

Now, I grant you, there have been a lot of professors in my life; whether I was learning from them, or working with them, they all added something or another to the thing that has become my life. But that's not really the reason I've picked up the metaphorical pen.

I believe I've already written about the great and powerful Panowski.

I want to write about a photo that I saw of his retirement party.

My old friend Marty posted a lot of them on his FB site. I was glad that he did, given the fact that I couldn't swing two trips to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in one year. All the old faces, coming back to me in glorious Kodachrome.

Jeez. Even the term "Kodachrome" dates me.

The photo was of Marty and two women; and I've seen Marty since the days of us throwing them back in our halcyon undergraduate days, but the women in the picture I haven't seen since I picked up my last suitcase and walked out off the campus, on my way to Iowa, then to Texas, and on to the life that came after.....


I met Ravae when I was a junior. She was older and younger at the same time: a sophomore at the college, but in her late twenties as I was just entering that interesting but largely painful decade of life. The first time I saw her, she came to a party that Marty had arranged at our apartment in the late summer of '82....she had a nice smile, dancing eyes, a quick and sometimes barbed tongue, and everything else in the places they should be.....

And she was with Mike. And, I instantly hated Mike, even though he was a good friend of mine.

She seemed to like me, too, but the whole idea of Mike was a deal breaker; I wasn't going to go up against Mike, and she wasn't going to cheat on Mike, so my young heart learned to pine. And it was a wholly unpleasant experience.

And then, just like that, we were a couple.

I'm not sure exactly how it happened. I can remember that she was with me when I won my only lottery prize; she was driving me back to my apartment, and I was scratching off what turned out to be a ten grand payout. It was a glorious evening, and she stayed with me that night, holding my hand as we fell asleep on the couch.

To make a long story short, it was a tumultuous relationship; full of arguments and breakups and getbacks and all the things that go along with that. And all the time, I was drinking heavily. And she was the first casualty of my habits; we had one opportunity to put it back together, and I blew it: after a particular bad bender, I wound up passed out on my floor, and although she knocked and called, she assumed I was elsewhere, and left town the next day.

And I never really saw her again until that photo.

And it all came rushing back, kind of like that huge chunk of shaved ice that crashes into your face as you try to get the last sip of root beer out the bottom of the glass. And, once again, like some sort of time travel device, I was twenty again, and smitten.

So, in the unlikely event that Ravae is part of my devoted readership.....

Thank you. You taught me a lot about all the things I was supposed to learn at that age; how to deal with love, how to deal with hurt. You made me laugh, you made me cry, and you were a part of making me the person I am today. And everytime the summer turns to fall, I think back to that first meeting, all the firsts that we shared....and I cannot help but be grateful.

You're partially to blame.

And it's rare for me to say this.....
I wouldn't have traded it for the wide world.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The persistence of memory.

We've all felt it, at one time or another in our lives.

Lightning in a bottle.

a brief moment of time, fleeting, in the overall scheme of things, but filled with all sorts of nuance, both real and imaginary. A moment that seems to last an eternity; a heartbeat that seems to define a lifetime.

A feeling that only lasts a second, but the yearning to repeat the experience in exactly the same way is so intense as to be almost unbearable.

It's as elusive as the granting of a wish.

We stood face to face.
And gently embraced.
And that was a moment you wish you could xerox, to visit again and again.

But that doesn't happen.
And even if the situation was to repeat, it would never happen again.
Drat it.

But, like you're bonded together in the memory of that moment, like a secret between you of something you never did.

It's just one of those warm embers.


Monday, July 27, 2009

It satisfies the hunger, without adding to the burden.

Once again, the blank screen tantalizes, but the imagination fails to rise to the occasion.

Yes, I know. That sounded a lot dirtier than I intended, but I thought it was a pretty good turn of phrase, so in it stays.

Rarely do I write from work; but work has been very slow lately, and since I don't have a sunrise to watch for another three hours, and I'm out of Coke and too lazy to run to the fridge, and since I'm watching Hillary on MEET THE PRESS for the second time I am.

By the way, Hillary was really good on MEET THE PRESS. But I miss Tim Russert.

I don't really have anything to rant about, and I don't really have the energy TO rant, even if I had the topic. I'm tired. I've been tired for awhile. I can't seem to get enough rest, or perhaps too much rest, but I think it takes more time than I have taken to get used to this nocturnal living.

I do have some random thoughts.

I have been thinking lately of the bad food. You know what I'm talking about: the bad food that tempts, like a cholesterol siren to the heart attack rocks. Everybody has their own bad food. I have a list.

White Castle hamburgers.
Anything from Steak and Shake.
A chilidog from Sonic.
Tim Horton's. The ENTIRE menu.

Comfort food guaranteed to discomfort. The meat we adore in our youth we cannot tolerate in our age.

Other thoughts:

I haven't seen a movie in a theatre since before the end of the world as we knew it.

I will watch reruns of Scrubs, Criminal Intent, Bones, House, and Cold Case ENDLESSLY, until I can spit the dialogue back to the television.

I am becoming fond of Royal Pains, and In Plain Sight.

I am looking forward to the return of Monk and Psych.

Football is just around the corner. Go LIONS! 0-18 and COUNTING!

The Tigers are playing pretty well. Three out of four from Chicago ain't bad.

And finally....

Wish I were at the cabin, playing golf at the Knob, and grillin' the chicken.

I miss my life a little.

I've made sacrifices.

Too many, perhaps.

Good morning to you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Unbelievable Idiocy.

I think that everybody in Washington should have an expiration date.

If you've ever used the word, "Russkie" to describe a former cold-war foe, you need to retire.

If you sided with McCarthy during the HUAC hearings, you needed to retire ages ago.

If you cannot differentiate between communism and socialism, or if you think that such things have never existed on this continent, then you need to retire, and pull out a couple of history books that weren't written by the winners.

If you ever stood by and let somebody else say, "Segregation Now, Segregation Forever!" on the front lawn of a University, it's time for you to get out and enroll in some modern courses.

If you've ever killed somebody...well, goodbye.

The current problem in our government is that there are too few loud voices from the younger voices, and too many old white men trying their best to hold on to the memories of 1954.

And the lies that they know enough people will believe are splashed daily, like swill; playing to the ignorance that they secretly abhor, but lovingly cultivate in order to maintain or increase their power.

History will write that Dick Cheney is a pimp, and his daughter....well.
It will also write that the death of the Republican party will be traced back to KarlRovian politics: The Clintons Murdered Everybody, Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, the Birthers, and oh, yeah....WMD in Iraq.

I want my country back.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.

The last couple of days have brought about a feeling just behind my eyes that is slightly reminiscent of wanting to weep. I wish I could either easily dismiss the feeling, or attach some meaning to it, but it's escaping me.

It seems that the powers-that-be have found satisfaction in my work; for I was dragged to the airport last Monday morning, at 8am (and by the way, I worked all night, so I was looking oooh, so good) to be awarded a couple of certificates for meritorious service, and yes, that comes with a monetary award as well. And then, on Tuesday, I was awarded a permanent position in the space I have been occupying since April. And yes, that includes a raise in salary.

So, things are going all right on the employment front. No need to be shedding a tear there.

I have been having dreams lately; I don't dream very often, but when I do they are either dreams of old friends, or nightmares based upon all of my hidden and visible fears. The dreams lately have been of old friends.

I don't have many friends here, even though I've lived here now for about three years. I'm not one that instantly acquires friends; as one of those that hung around long enough has said in other places, you need to scrape off the hard candy coating to get to what I am underneath, and so far, I've not really had the time or inclination to let anybody try it. So, mostly, it's family.

I am in semi-daily contact with my scattered friends around the world, via the various social networks, and it's nice to have a hand in, to have a window to their lives, although I miss the spontaneous laughter that comes from gathering. I miss the give-and-take that creates legendary conversation. I miss the visible smiles, the tempo, the pitch, the rhythm.

John misses a lot.

These relationships are mine, and I have to admit that I have some guilt. I am selfish in wanting to keep these things to myself, and I am not really comfortable with even the most acceptable selfishness. I hid many things for far too long, and have come to the almost childish conclusion that hidden=bad. Just another remnant of the wilder days.....

The question of happiness continues to hang over the day. I was recently having a "conversation" with a friend about the nature of happiness. After deep thought, I know that I have been happy, but not consistently. I've never consistently played for the win; I've always played to the draw.

That way, I don't have to show signs of genius. I can be a suspected of geekdom without committing to citizenship.

My happiness has never burned in raging inferno, but the coals....the coals are quite satisfying, and they can erupt from time to time, and flares are quite Divine; it's the exception that makes us covet the gem.

I don't know if I've ever been satisfied.
And, I don't know if I ever will be satisfied.
And that is what gets me up every morning.
And that's why things effect me.

And probably why you put up with me.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I've lived long enough to see:

A man walk on the moon.

The invention of the personal computer.

The resignation of a President.

The impeachment of another.

And then, an African-American one.

A space station come crashing back to earth.

And another one being built.

Man's inhumanity to man in places like NYC, OKC, and Columbine, CO.

And the soaring of the human spirit in places all over the globe.

In my life I've met hundreds of interesting people; some that I've fallen in love with, some that have become indispensable life-long friends, and some that have fallen by the wayside, and are sorely missed.

47 years.

A drop in the bucket.

But don't ever misunderstand me as I cover my true feelings by pretending to be Sisyphus: I wouldn't trade a moment of it.


Monday, July 20, 2009

There are more than seven wonders in this world.

As you well know, I start the day far earlier than any of you; where you are usually snug in your beds, I'm sitting at a desk, analyzing. I see the beginnings of the day, and the end of the day. I'll admit that the middle of the day is usually a liiiitle hazy.

Today, for example, is an anniversary. Forty years ago, an American fellow by the name of Armstrong took a little walk, and changed the world we lived in, forever.

I was one day short of my seventh birthday. My father let us stay up late, to watch the whole thing on television. My father did that; he was always well aware of what was going to change the world, and by God, he was going to have his kids watch it. I also got to see Hank Aaron hit his 715 home run. My father's sense of history was as wide as the North Dakota sky, and I love him for it.

And there, in the family room of the house in Rochester, on a black and white television, the sun long gone and the stars out in full force, Armstrong said his now famous phrase, and stepped out onto the dust of the moon.

Years later, a specialist in audio finally put to rest the grammatical error. What Armstrong actually said was, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." The audio was a little inferior, but what did we expect? They were hundreds of thousands of miles away, and there was no guy standing there with a boom mike. And you can't actually ask for a second take on the moon.

I'm assuming that all of you reading this are sane, and believe that they landed near the Sea of Tranquility, and not New Mexico.

I can remember the look of absolute wonder on the face of Walter Cronkite. His wonder mirrored our own, and rightly so; even the best newsman in the world has got to show astonishment when faced with the astonishing.

For years after, and I'll admit, even a little bit today, I feel that the moon in some way belongs to me. They landed the day before my birthday, and the New York Times' banner headline appeared on my birthday. I still have it, framed and waiting for the moment to be replaced on a wall.....MAN WALKS ON THE MOON.

Happy Birthday, kid. Here's your moon.

I'd like to say goodbye to Cronkite as well. In 1971, he had a series on Saturday Morning called, YOU WERE THERE. It did dramatizations of historical moments. I loved that show, because they often broke the historical wall, and had modern newscasters interviewing these historical figures. It gave me my first taste of the love of history. I especially liked the show the did on Emilia Earhart, which also fired my love for mysteries, both real and imaginary.

The birthday has always been a bittersweet one, especially as I got older. It is ironic that most of my birthdays are marked by the loss of one friend or another, and those losses have tainted the day for me a little. But with the benefit of wisdom, I have found that I can celebrate the unbelievable accomplishment of living this long, and honor the memory of those that left an indelible mark upon me. If you know me at all, you know that all of those that I have loved go with me wherever I go.

Even though I haven't seen them in ages.

Oh, my friends.....what a wonder is my world. And how nice to have spent the time in yours, as well.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Have you ever been so furious that you actually lose the ability of coherent speech?

Yup. It only took Pat Buchanan six minutes.

It's just so weird that people of sound mind and good conscience are listening to this fucking dinosaur. He was the confidant and staunch defender of Nixon. He served under Reagan, who while a brilliant showman, was only interested in "making this country what it once was...." which, in my opinion, had something to do with "when things were better", like before the civil war, and civil rights, and civil debate.

Yes, I know.....affirmative action is ineffective. But to suggest that the reason that the Supreme Courts 110 justices, 108 of them have been old white men because it was white men that founded this country, that BUILT this country, and that positions should be based upon some kind of racial destiny, and not merit.

Insanity, thy name is Buchanan.

I'm ashamed. Ashamed that the insulting son of a bitch got under my skin.
And ashamed because we really haven't come all that far at all, have we?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Strange goings-on in my head.

For example: Socks are actually just bags for the foot.

There is a fine line between a hobby and a symptom.

In watching the Disney channel, I've come to the long-felt conclusion that it's a cult.

One of the funniest names ever invented is Quimby. Either as a first name, or a last name. Quimby. Makes me smile just thinking it.

And now, I'm back to foot bags.

Send help.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Autobiographical nonsense as I approach my fortysomethingth birthday.....

I was born in Royal Oak, Michigan in the early sixties.

The hospital was named after a fellow named William Beaumont, who was famous for his research into the human digestive system, thanks in large part to an amiable trapper up near Mackinaw City who's gunshot wound didn't kill him, but did give Dr. Beaumont a literal birds-eye view into the mans stomach and abdomen.

My father states that on the day they took me home, he accidentally drove his car across a snow fence, causing quite a lot of damage to his beloved automobile. Many years later, after my umpteenth disaster with an automobile of my own in which he had to bail me out, he claimed that on that day, when he was driving he car across the snow fence, like a block of cheese against the grater, that the car gods were not after him; they were after me.

We lived in a small house on a street called Edgeland, not far from the hospital I was born in. I went by the house in January of this year, to take some photos; it was still small. The fact is, with the exception of a shed in the backyard, there had been no change in the house at all. None. Same color. Same foliage in the front. The same plaque that held the same numbers of the address. My heart did something; I'm not really sure what, but there was definitely some heart action above and beyond the usual thump-thump happening in there.

I was baptized as a Catholic, largely because I had nothing to say about it, but my Mother had a near-miss experience on the way to the convent. She never really spoke of her upbringing, and her father to me was a smallish man with a large grey hair, bent over from arthritis, and her Mother was a ghost; and a ghost with teeth, apparently, because there are precious few pictures and virtually no stories of any merit. She lost a Brother in Korea that she never got over, and I assume that was the thing that took her out of the convent; one can never have the same relationship with God after he takes your most precious things; Job taught us that.

I was baptized in a church called The Shine of the Little Flower. The priest was apparently old school, for when he asked the name of the child, and was informed that my name was to be John Wesley, he turned a little white around the collar and suggested that a good Catholic boy should not be burdened with the name of the head Methodist. I'm sure my Father took a good deal of pleasure out of that. I think he secretly was hoping that the priest's head would catch fire during the ceremony. But he made it through, stumbling just a bit on the whole Wesley thing, and there I was.

The only things I can remember about those early years (and I have to admit that's a bit of a cheat; if I put my mind to it, I'm pretttty sure I could come up with a couple of things, but they would be mundane, like a bout with the mumps and the fact my younger brother would just randomly spill crayons which I would be forced to pick up), is the 1968 World Series (yes, I was six years old, but I still knew who Mickey Lolich and Denny McClain were, and the difference between winning and losing) and a deep, rich fog that fell one fall morning.

The fog is very clear in my mind, and yes, I'm aware of the irony. I can remember walking to school through that fog, with the neighbors from across the street, the Grubers, and I can remember that I felt that a fog that thick should have more substance, somehow. It should be like cotton candy, or soup. Instead, it was just this cloud that prevented sunshine from hitting the ground.

It was thickest fog I can remember ever being in.
Unless you count most of the 1980's, but that's a story for another time.

Side note on the Grubers, and not a pleasant one, but a kind of creepy one.

We moved from Royal Oak to Rochester Hills in the late part of '68; I feel it was late October, early November. And I don't believe I ever laid eyes on Seth Gruber again...until 1981. I was paying my respects to an old friend that I loved dearly in a small cemetery down Orion Road. Lots of markers, dating far back into the Nineteenth Century, and there was Kristi's...set back off the road, underneath a huge tree; a simple stone that didn't come near to representing all she was in her short life.....I put down the flowers I had purchased, said hello and told her what had been happening since she left, said goodbye....and walked right past Seth's stone, which was almost next to Kristi's. He had passed about two months after Kristi had.

And the circle of life just got smaller and smaller as the days progressed.

We moved to a bigger house, surrounded by fields of grass, with a large lawn and interesting neighbors, and my Father remains in that house to this day. The elementary school, and what used to be known as the junior high were both within walking distance, and the high school just a short bus ride away. A nice town, Rochester. Plenty of things to do, and plenty of trouble to get into.

But that's a story for another time........

Friday, July 3, 2009

I warn you. It rambles.

I'm not sure how I feel today.

Tired, certainly. I'm not really sure if this schedule is killing me or curing me of my addiction to daylight. Maybe it's a little of both. There are times when it's not so bad. It does give me a chance to think upon the deep subjects that fascinate.

Last night, for example, I studied upon the murder of a former NFL quarterback, and the wreck of the Daniel J. Morrell. I believe I also found some time-saving devices, but time will tell.....

Actually, the job makes me a little lonely.

It is currently raining, and not one of those gentle rains, but one of those windblown, heavy rains that make you fear the coming hail, and wonder if it wouldn't be better to go downstairs. It will eventually stop, and become hot, because as I've said before, the weather here in ND was created by a bi-polar Mother Nature.

Had an opportunity to miss an old friend this weekend. Didn't want to miss, but what are you going to do? But my feelings remain that regardless of how far you run down the road, the old friends are the best things to keep with you. They see where you are, and they know where you've been. As you well know, I love the idea of a never-ending conversation. And I appreciate the laughter that comes from that conversation. I think that's why I like the social networking sites, and the reading of other people's blogs.

I have old friends I've never even set eyes upon. But one of the fun things to contemplate is that first meeting. And how rough it will be.

My life is in flux just now. The battle has been rejoined; the one between what I wanted to be, and what I've become. I suppose it's a war that is ongoing in all of us.....and I wish I could just resign myself to it......but my creative nature won't rest.

Sleepless nights.
Okay, they're sleepless because I work at night.
Sleepless days.
Okay, they're sleepless because human beings are SUPPOSED TO BE AWAKE IN THE DAYTIME.

I got some very real sleep issues.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Eh. Part II.

I have to tell you, folks; I wish there was a bell, or a sign, or something that would indicate when anybody, anywhere, was talking about you in a flattering and favorable light.

I could use just a little ego boost today.