Doc: “ha ha”
Me: ”don’t take it personally but I’m gonna tune you out...”
Doc: “ha ha”
Listening to ZHU station on Pandora, trying to decide what Eddlin is going to do with Joanne. This person is taking on a life of its own in my head. I wonder, where are you going, how are we going to get all of this down on paper together?
I went to the gym today as it is entirely too cold to run outside without coughing up my guts. I have too much energy for one person and need to be running in a circle on the track, whether it is exciting or not (it is not), merely to satisfy my muscles' desire for burning and breaking; the same excitement is felt in pushing and pulling on weights, the exhaustion washing over me, face red, breathless.
The guy flinging the huge, threaded ropes side to side, then up and down, and wiggling them in all number of contorted directions was sweating his face off when I walked up to him. He said he’s been working his weight down for a while, he is no stranger to the core exercises. I find people at the gym inspiring, for the most part.
I have booked 2 nights at Yosemite National Park later next year. I will have to try for May in 2020; I was not in time to beat everyone else there in 2019. I emailed a hiking company to reserve a couple of spots for us to do a guided hike, something a little less reckless leaving time for exploration on another day. My wife hiked Glacier Point on a whim. She requested we stay at a lodge, and let me tell you, the lodge is freaking beautiful, set right in the valley floor. The hike we are going to do meanders along for 8.5 miles. I have picked a late-year timeframe, and I’m not sure if packing snow gear will be in order. Get out there, see things bigger than people, smell the forest, see something you cannot put into words and do not get eaten by a mountain lion or bear. Lacks assurances, is scared, is proceeding.
A Southwest jet skidded off the runway at the Bob Hope International Airport this week. I miss all the fun. Those poor people are awash in mud, all the infrastructure washed hither and yon.
I wanted to drag out this golden poem from a long time ago. Something fortuitous; I think I might have been talking about having a child before he was a twinkle. The way I had the child was not the best way, hindsight being what it is. I wanted 3 children. I never had those dreams about wedding dresses, but along about age 25, I started having maternal urges, and they were urges for 3. I'm grateful for one. Since I ended up doing things this way, it has caused a lot of difficulty for my wife, because it is not easy to be the step-parent. It is not something most people would pick to do. It is a lot of missed moments, like the kid's entire cute and cuddly stage, the bonding stage. There are a lot of articles about blended families. None of them say being the step-parent is a dream come true, lottery-style (though I do not buy the concept of any sudden financial windfall as a dream come true). Nope. So, when I read this poem, now that 15 years have passed, I think it holds its own truth, and may always. Life is difficult most of the time. At times, heaping it onto our selves, we make it more difficult.
Sometimes, poetry is like a big, annoying puzzle, where you can draw your own conclusions. I don't know what I meant when I wrote this when I was 30. But, I like the way it ends: on tip-toes, I am higher than power on wire. Only because it is clever.
On the heels of something more, I am perched, ready.
In the evening, I am pointed skyward, ever-waiting for the right time to blast into glory.
In the daytime, I am quiet, as I cannot leave or stay.
On the heels of something more, I am rockets ready, alone and steady,
With and without.
Forty-five is where I’ll be in fifteen years
And who will be from parts of me,
Well, I may never know.
On the heels of something more, I am not outspoken,
I am mending from broken,
Watching and biding a time that is sliding,
In a place where I cannot leave or stay.
On tip-toes, I am higher than power on wire.
I’ve been listening to this podcast called This Is Love. Episode 2, Something Large & Wild was so good, I replayed it for my son this morning on the way to school. Maybe you can listen to it, too? The commentator has a weird method of articulating some words, which is probably a signal that I need to be medicated for my Type A personality, but it’s tolerable, and the subjects on the episodes up to #5 have been good.
Ep.2 stood out to me because we do not often think of animals like whales as having a love-thing going on with their fellow whales, but it’s clear the mother-child relationship is happening with them. Losing your baby whale is not something the mother just chalks up to “oh well.” I also love when we can see moments where nature and humans come together like this, and I know there are a host of dog-and-cat moments to pull from, but what about something the size of an interstate bus? That’s not routine.
I have been writing a lot lately and it is eating into my t-shirt situation. Plus, I am having a hard time finding cyanotype liquids I need locally, which I sometimes prefer over Amazon. Not an excuse, but travel is easing up a bit, and I’m going to really try hard to get Eddlin finished first. I don’t really know what to do with it, other than post it here. I like that it is not really much of anything. I think that will change at some point, but for now, I don’t want to be competing. Competing brings out the worst in me. Creating, the best. It is copywritten, it is safe for now in the hands of the interwebs.
This has been something I’ve looked at a lot in the last week. Nick Cave’s site.
I’ve been listening to some good tunes, which are posted below, for you:
From Grey's Anatomy:
“When we say things like: People don’t change, it drives scientists crazy. Because change is, literally, the only constant in all of science. Energy, matter, it’s always changing. Morphing. Merging. Growing. Dying. It’s the way people try not to change that’s unnatural. The way we cling to what things were instead of letting them be what they are. The way we cling to old memories instead of forming new ones. The way we insist on believing, despite every scientific indication, that anything in this lifetime is permanent. Change is constant. How we experience change, that’s up to us. It can feel like death, or it can feel like a second chance at life, if we open our fingers, loosen our grips, go with it. It can feel like pure adrenaline. Like, at any moment, we can have another chance at life. Like, at any moment, we can be born all over again."
What is the big deal about the holidays? I don’t get the gearing up for hatred. The Hallmark Holiday crew, as in, “Oh, it’s just another Hallmark Holiday…”
Christmas to me isn’t about religion. No need to get triggered, people.
Christmas is awesome for the following reasons:
And being fucking thankful. Yes, give all the fucks!
Granted, you could do most of those all year long, but we don’t, we run about doing our high level, super-duper important stuff every day, oblivious to our need for joy. The communal “our.” The entire eastern seaboard does not want to be greeted with Midwestern charm. Trust me, I’ve tried. It’s like being in any of the weekly meetings at work. Slap that smile right off your face. Still, I think it’s worth persisting over. Who cares if there’s shunning to be done.
I fired up the Christmas music to speed me along to home today. The Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio is my favorite.
I’m not allowed to hang the Christmas lights at home until after Thanksgiving – fair enough.
A few notes about Miami. Everyone drives as though they are on their way to claim $50,000,000. I saw a Maserati swerving through traffic; it must cost a lot to have insurance in Florida. I asked the hawker outside my hotel last night a question – these are usually very good looking men and women who stand about trying to get people to come in for dinner – she looked at me (it was the long pause that gave her away) and said, “No English.” So, there’s a lot of that and that would make me learn Spanish better than I know it now, which is to say I would need to learn a lot. But I would want to get around on both sides of the languages spoken here.
Miami is also expensive. Lots of beautiful high rises, more under construction. I saw 8 cruise ships lined up as I passed the port this morning. I used to be scared of cruising, but it is one heck of a restful vacation.
Miami has the best radio stations, the biggest array of music. Great food, rich in culture, the place is fun to visit, not for me to live.
I drove to Ft. Lauderdale to fly home and took 2 full loops around the airport trying to return the rental car, which I did not gas-up before doing so, which is going to come back to haunt me, but I was pretty late after doing the tour-de-force, so wth, let’s roll the expense budget together. That makes 2 Florida airports at which I have incurred fines in the process of returning rental cars and making my flight (in Orlando I did an illegal u-turn and got onto a tollway just to get off at the next exit, bypassing the change collector as I did not have any change).
When I land in Jacksonville or Ft. Myers it is so different. Such sweet and sleepy airports in comparison. It literally shoves the flip flops onto your feet to walk off the plane and out into the terminal. One of these days soon I am going to be done with all the travel and life will change again.
I took a look at the fires burning near LA as I am off there next. There is one not far from where I am going. I am considering bringing a mask. My coworkers tell me the air smells like smoke. I am also considering rescheduling for January. 300+ days of sun!
It's snowing at home. They've called off school and everything. I wait 2 1/2 years to go 4-wheeling in a good snow, and it snows while I am in Miami. What the ever lovin' HECK IS HAPPENING?!! Ugh! 7" falling right now. I have packed wisely with a sweat jacket and a pair of jeans for my return flight Friday. And a hat. I remembered a hat. I'm glad I raked the 3,000,000 leaves in the yard before I left. Now, the grass seed can be sunk decidedly down into the soil. Ask any old timer, they'll tell you that is the truth. (anyone over 65 at Lowe's or Home Depot)
The crazy looking gal in the pic over the bed greeted me (I know, who says gal anymore) when I entered my hotel room tonight. I didn't notice her at all until I turned on the overhead light and then I hit my kung-fu stance. Fortunately, she does not face the bed, or I would not be able to sleep tonight.
There's a hand protruding from the wall in the shower holding the shampoo and soap. Very boutique.
When I checked in, the front desk guy (a man whose hair is likely the envy of every man he knows, so dark and swirly and gelled into place as it was) told me I had to re-park my car between "the two little yellow lines" if I wanted the valet to park it.
I'm not snotty little shit, everyone valets their cars at these hotels. This is South Beach. There is no parking unless you pay the meter every 38 seconds. I watched the Parking Division lady stand next to the car in front of me and wait patiently for a few minutes until she could give it a ticket. I wish the same amount of care and concern could be administered to getting the breakfast sandwich I order from McDonald's, but we can't have everything we want in life, I know this much to be true.
So, the guy with the hair, gesticulating us both outside to the curb, where he led me to see to the car (so polite, it was hard to refuse), to which I sighed in a way I wasn't proud of.
He replied, "I know, it is an inconvenience" in a very masculine Latin voice that commanded me back inside the car to do a U-turn to park within the little yellow lines without further question.
"Thank you, miss. Here is a coupon for a glass of champagne at the bar."
God knows I was a hot mess. Windows down, hair blowing all over the place as I crossed the bridge, a rainbow in my wake (really, a rainbow appeared, it was pretty stunning). I had sweated all day at work in a series of hot buildings. I was wearing a dayglow t-shirt and the usual industrial garb.
Have I mentioned Miami is a hot bed of French tourists and fashionistas and half-naked people every day of the year? Well, it is. I looked like I had taken a tumble dry in the tumble dryer.
I took his coupon and sweated my way over to the elevator and punched the Up.
When I arrived at my floor, I found it hard to locate my room. Turns out, the room numbers were etched into the mirrors next to the door. I think I had been touched by the sun because I couldn't see the numbers for a long time, circling where I thought my room would be, if I had counted to the left from the first room at the sign's arrow pointing and beginning with the odd numbers in the 20's. I kept thinking why would they not put the number on or near the door?
I ain't too bright.
Went for a long walk down to the water though the sun had set by then. A woman was playing in the ocean with a group of friends, no shirt on. Bilbo Baggins boobs flappin' in the wind. Oh, and there's a United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights on the nightstand; I'll probably thumb through it. I used to have a Pocket United States of America Constitution. Good reading.
Been up since 3am. Lord. What a day.
Day 2, coming right up. Enjoy that snow!
This Veteran's Day would have been my maternal grandfather's 100th birthday. He's been gone a long time now. He was a blacksmith by trade, a blue collar guy. Gentle and loving. His wife was a spitfire, as are all the women on my mother's side, it seems. She was a machinist, mother of three. They lived on the southside most of their lives. My grandmother died of cancer in her late 50's and he lived to 88 but he didn't leave their house, he stuck to the plan. There's something about marriage that says this is going to be tough and maybe it breaks you in two sometimes and you go on, your two halves barely holding together. My grandmother made her husband promise to never marry again, and he didn't. They weren't two people incredibly in love - they weren't lovers - they were hardworking and practical folks. Tough, long-suffering. It sounds boring, huh? Well, it was a resilient kind of thing they had, not unusual for a marriage formed in the 1940's during war time.
It's hard to gauge what soldiers go through in battle, what they give up, what they suffer with forever. The chemicals they end up ingesting with and without their consent. I read most of Cherry by Nico Walker this week. He is an Iraq war veteran. It was a visceral experience.
An old friend of mine was sent to Iraq a few weeks short of retirement, in his early 50's when he was activated. One day he was going to work at his government job, a few years into a new marriage, and the next he was in a blazing hot and very hostile country dressed in fatigues carrying 70 lbs of gear while being shot at, the sun so hot it could burn the retinas without sunglasses.
His wife told him she did not sign up for something like this, which made him call me from Iraq, to tell me how fucked up something like that made him. What do you do? You can't call his wife and reach through the phone to smack her stupid face until she comes back to consciousness. Short of listening, that was all there was to do.
He was stationed at Camp Anaconda, living right alongside the burn pit. When he got home he developed lesions all over his brain. Half his company died from weird cancers. He was not right. The VA took good care of him.
John Cochran VA Hospital is packed with good medical people. My father in law was sitting in the chair by the bed yesterday trying to come out of the anesthesia, feeling dizzy and unwell. He sat forward and put a napkin to his lips and then he threw up.
The nurse showed up a few minutes after that and noted how many times he had thrown up in the last few hours and decided to expedite something with the doctor to help him settle down.
She returned a half dozen more times over the next hour to tend to him. He kept dozing off while she was explaining how they were going to tackle his medication and treatment that evening, and as he would nod back to consciousness, she would repeat what she had been saying. Like, who does that 5 times in a row without losing patience? That nurse.
The surgeon showed up, shook 4 sets of hands, explained what he found while he was on the inside, and politely left to continue his rounds. A porter dropped in and set two lemon-lime Shastas on the table "Thank you for your service," he said, leaving. In fact, everyone there was polite and respectful of the veterans. They were upbeat and funny, but quiet enough to keep the place restful and calming.
"I just don't feel right until they do," the nurse told me in the hall.
The snow whipped up out of nowhere a little later. It left a white dusting and a bitter wind. The botanical gardens were beautiful today, the last of the Fall leaves straining to hang on, everything a golden wonder.
I have to go to the wake for my cousin on Monday and I am going to bring my mother-in-law because my wife has to work and my mother-in-law takes no prisoners if someone attacks her family. I need her to be there and I told her why, tonight. I am not good at asking for help or expressing my distress or anything else around knowing what's good for me most of the time. On top of that I am ridiculously headstrong and into my fourth decade, based on my own inability to get out of my way, it is a miracle I have made anything of myself at all.
She was thankful I asked. I do not understand why, but I am thankful I am not going alone. It gives the little fella time alone with his grandpa, too, because even in pain, that guy makes an effort to mentor that kid.
What else? My father is a veteran of the Vietnam war, too. He did not see combat like my uncle.
My uncle is a stand up fella whose presence I cannot be without. He is a good writer, someone who can capture a scene perfectly pictured in the mind's eye. He's a tough old bastard, crusty as they come, and he likes to drink his coffee around 5am, the same time I'm up, and we are close, we have an ease in our conversation. We talk a lot about PTSD. We come at it from 2 different angles. PTSD all the same. Real as real can be.
It is with a sense of dread that I embark upon these years in my life. Every person I know in my parents' generation has already gone through this, they have lost their family slowly, the seniors all disappearing. I'm not depressed about it, I realize the way things work out for us, riding on our one-way ticket. And being gay, growing up in the 90's, I have had to select a family of choice a long time ago. But lately, I have had another family.
We go after it - searching for the right fit for us - and when we find it, when it shows up, a-blazin', then comes the time to deal with the Everything. Everything you have been for every year before you met your significant other. Go plow through that mountain. A fleet of luggage later, you are trying to weed through blending your family, which is volcanic, at the best of times, considering you are blending it with a teenager who is apt to burst into tears or a fit of total panic at the prompting of any advice around not wearing the same hoody for 3 days in a row. It is enough to send everyone teetering to the edge. This being alive is a big bet, every single day.
It is good to have a group of people you can rely upon, whoever they are, they're yours. My friend told me she freaked out about something a while ago, tried calling 7 friends, and was beside herself when none of them answered (me included). Then, she reminded herself that she had 7 friends to call, and that alone was enough to celebrate. Take that, self-doubt!
There's a cool old song from a movie called Georgia called Hard Times worth a listen. Give it a whirl.
On Wednesday my cousin died. He was more like a father to me than my own father. Thank God for these people. They just happen upon you at the right time and fill in, picking up where the last mentor left off without missing a beat. This was a funny, warm, outstanding person. The kind of guy who used to bring me a box of pop rocks when he was a sales rep for that company just because he knew how much little kids like a candy that crackles in your head.
He had four kids of his own. His wife ruled the roost, he said, but I always knew he was a co-conspirator in running the household, taking care of what he could. She died not too long ago. He was crushed, utterly devastated. We would walk in the park sometimes and not talk, just walk. He didn’t want to be asked how he was, or make conversation. He was so obviously distraught. He could not understand why everyone else could not figure that out and ask anything but how are you, or say, “If there’s anything you need…give me a call.”
We usually shit the bed when something like death approaches us, particularly if death is on another person, lingering around. It is as though we think if we stay away, it will stay away from us. My uncle told me today we are all walking around in dead people’s clothes. We just haven’t died yet. (the older, wiser way of saying, “Don’t kid yourself, it is closer than you think.”)
It is unusual to know this super, duper guy is not on the earth anymore. That he is past-tense. I remember my last interaction with him – a text message, of all things.
My mother texted me the news last night. I sat there in bed looking at the message for a while, reading it, re-reading it. Trying to be sure of what I was reading. She has a wanderlust for emoticons.
My father left a note on my door the day one of my coworkers committed suicide. Kind of a “just letting you know this happened” note. Total dick move.
That went through my head briefly. I put it aside and called her.
It is always a good idea not to be mean. We have no idea what anyone is going through in life. If anything, we need to be cared for much more than we will receive care. My mother is no exception. She is a tired woman. She lost her cousin, too. I explained how close I was to this man who died and she realized on her own how much I must feel his loss, too. And we connected, just like that.
My wife sat next to me, concerned. My mom chose to make a political statement by declining to attend our wedding. So, it goes without saying that being emotionally destroyed is a possibility when dealing with my mother.
I tracked down some of my cousins this morning. They live close to my son’s school. I had to talk to a few neighbors because they had relocated recently, but I showed up at their front door eventually. It was good to be face to face. We are so rarely able to face each other when we need to, relying on the stupidity of technology to gloss over our fears and do the bold confidence for us.
I have enclosed an Erica Jong poem from a collection called Becoming Light. It just jumped right out there, out of the folds at me today, so I’m sending it to you. Along with a Metro ticket from 18 years ago, because that was holding the page.
The first time I got on a paddleboard was in 2014 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. My friend asked me to join her and a few others to paddle the canals. She gave me a thorough lesson on how to use the paddle on dry land and would not let me in the water before I could demonstrate my ability. I have perfectionist friends, and I am better for it.
We had a great time, paddling until sunset. I was so nervous, I paddled from my knees until we were almost all the way back, and then I stood up, gingerly reaching forward to cut a slice of the water. I was hooked. That was Wednesday.
She signed me up for a race to take place that Saturday. I thought: 3 miles, no problem.
I borrowed a nice, wide and welcoming table-top-like board and headed north of West Palm Beach. My first indication I was in over my head were the svelte, tanned bodies taking to the boards. A quick “Oh No” feeling passed over me as I walked down the ramp into the water and got on top, floating out among the pack, guiding myself ever further back behind everyone.
The beautiful thing about getting in over your head is that you are 1) going to experience something your normal, rational self would talk you out of, and 2) you will prove something new to yourself.
The race began. I soon realized it was an open-ocean race. We headed out of the marina, feeling strong, as a pack, and, concentrating as I was, one paddle at a time, it was suddenly that a huge ship approached, and it was only then that I recognized I had allowed a large gap to widen between me and the other paddlers. Large enough that one of the hands was able to leisurely stroll to the end of the ship and motion to me to Hold On. I did. There’s not much you can do when a giant ship is making way.
“Best you stay there, ok?” he said. “The channel is deep enough for us to pass here, so we have to.”
That was the last time I saw the pack of paddlers all in a clump.
15 minutes later the damn ship had “made way” across the channel cut and off I went again. It was sunny, and I was standing up paddling like a pro. I got into the main channel and the water became choppy, something new for me. Canals have pretty tame water, the ocean, on the horizon promised even choppier water and I tried to keep my eyes down, not on the horizon as I was starting to feel a little panic rising.
The lead guy passed me before I could even see the turnaround, which was out on the ocean, past the low-wake zone, where the boats floored it making huge chop, the likes that would toss a newbie like me right over.
I caught up to all the kids, finally. Phew! Relief. Nope.
At the turnaround, which required a lot of skill just to avoid the children who were as wild with their directional abilities as me, I pushed passed them, and then, in a turn of fate, the wind hit me, a full 25 mph full in the face, and those little shits passed me again.
So, I was in last place. No biggie.
Except that it started to rain, and some recreational paddlers happened to be hanging out near the shore line and called out to me to get on my knees or I would just blow backwards during the storm. The storm?! WTF?!!
Around this time, one of my friends showed up in a boat asking if I would like to ditch and take a ride back with them. Nope, I’ll make it, I said, semi-confidently.
The storm arrived shortly after they turned and whizzed away and brought a good amount of rain.
I had not been paying attention during our departure on the marina we left from, so focused was I on not falling on my face into the drink. This proved extremely taxing, but allowed me to shift my overwhelming feelings of terror onto something other than falling into and drowning in the water.
Someone took a picture of me as I came in – the rain was making those huge indentations in the water, pelting away. I look very determined, and I guess I was, because I didn’t fall in and I finished the race, last place, but I did it.
I bought a paddle from this place the next year when we were hopping around the Hawaiian islands. There’s a pic of it in the shop before the owner cut it down to size for me and a couple on the water shots at home. He gave me a lesson standing atop a rock wall before he let me buy it. He was very serious about good form. His shop sits on a wedge corner where all the traffic converges. Hello, passing traffic. He offered to take me out on the water for a lesson but I turned him down - stupidly - never turn the surf shop guy down if he offers to take you out on perfectly clear water on a Hawaiian island. Doh!!
He was good for his word and mailed me the paddle 4 weeks later. It has never paddled in warm, clear water, always the muddy brown. I found a guy selling boards here, bringing them up from Florida to get people in far off states excited about the sport. I bought my first one for $500 and I still have it in my garage and I take it out when I can on the lakes and rivers.
It takes no pushing to get me to get out on the water and on the ocean, once you get past the break line, it’s smooth sailing. I try not to think of all of those creatures living below my board while I glide along the surface. It is crazy to get out that far, on a 20ft board, just you and the water as far as the eye can see.
The pic way below is of a black sand beach in Hana. It is the most magical water thing I have ever seen and it is hard to beat. There's also a pic I've snipped a little of me and the (little) kiddo on a board. I used to take him out sitting there, between my feet, when he was a wee lad.
Creating within the protective, mildly narcissistic/over-sharing shell; low-scale pressure, nothing to live up to except to frequently teleport into the open field of mind-space. I have turned off the comments section; if you're burning to talk with me, click the icon at the top of the page and send me an email.