Thursday, December 18, 2008

To be or not to…edify

Winding down to the end of a semester and I am grateful that I made this half-year without throttling one or more of those 6th, 7th, and 8th grade little …sons of…a loving and merciful God. I have approximately 48 hours until I cease the daily drudgery of my current campus and seek my fortune at yet another facility within the Great Realm of the Edification.
There is an emotion that I am in the process of experiencing. It is a vague and unfamiliar residence. I am gloomy and elated at the same time. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer of emotive pursuits, I have scarce preparation for anything new and unusual. In former times, I have had the safety of singular passions with which to deal with. Although I have a level of relief in the relocation, I wish to maintain my current station.
I have a dichotomous population of learners; approximately half are in an in-patient drug treatment program, and the other half are an assortment of children who have been taken from there homes by the state protective services. (Either to be protected or to ensure that society is protected from them) The future captains of industry who are seeking a similar life as mine (being in recovery) are upset because I am leaving. I am upset that I am leaving as it takes these kids away from me. I have always had ready access to the comfort, and benefit of what my 12 step fellowship refers to as the “Ultimate Weapon for Recovery”, another recovering addict. I keep a cell phone with a phone list full of folks to call if I encounter any of the myriad of difficulties someone who suffers from my disease can encounter in a day. I can call and get respite from the sometimes catastrophic and ofttimes trivial issues that an addict encounters. Until I took this job.
I must leave my phone in the car, and stay inside the entire day due to the nature of the beast that is my form of gainful employment. There are kids to watch and teach, there is that time each day when I must do the administrative duties of being a teacher, there is the lunch period where there is usually a colleague or two available to replenish the body, and update each other on the latest school gossip and generally bitch about the kids, or the principal, or the kids, or the secretary, or the kids, or the administration, or the kids, or the state mandated standardized test, or the kids, or the fact that it did not freeze enough yesterday to give us a bad weather day where we could lay up at the house manipulate the remote and eat, or the kids…
It is the venue of each teacher that they bemoan the wonderful job each has when in conversation with other educators. It is a requirement I think. I will find out once I finish my certification requirements. And it usually stays in the lunch period, but sometimes, it carries into the classroom. In the treatment kids I have had a pressure release valve on how my feelings are. I have that quiet understanding with them that only another addict can feel. I am going to miss this the most.
The rest of the kids are many time more of a challenge to me. They all come from some form of abuse cycle, and it is hard to tell what you’re going to get from day to day. I have a crew of youngsters (middle school) that are generally, and collectively, a major pain in the ass. These are the kids that are easy to dislike. They are those members of our society that have been thrown either away or into the system. They are usually aged beyond their years, and desperately need the assistance of an adult that is not going to abandon or abuse them. I am learning how to be that person, and it is taking me a while. I leave work sometimes hoping they will take the next day off. Sometimes I wish I worked somewhere else. Mostly when they call me a “Fat fuck” for the sixth or seventh hundred time. I have one that has called me “Fat Man” everyday I’ve seen him. I known him since the day I came to work. Adults who call me this pay for the indiscretion…severely. If an administrator should happen to call me something similar I would sue for discrimination in a heartbeat. (Someone needs to…see my other pages)
Yet somehow, from them, I take it and my response is to pray for them. Every time I pray. When I am away I miss them. When I come back they all tell me that they missed me. Even the sucker that calls me “Fat Man.”
Well, it is the day after I began this piece, and I am of a little less favorable disposition to the kid that enjoys reminding me of my girth. I came to school this morning with a genuine Yuletide attitude. I brought candy to reward my charges for being the reason I get up in the morning. Being the last of the semester and having already posted my grades, I have allowed them the freedom to read, or play games on the computer. Two of them decided that thanking me for this would be best demonstrated if they engaged in a fistfight. Being responsible for the well being of these youngsters, I got in the middle and broke it up. My chief protagonist felt it proper to swing a punch at me in order to stop me from preventing further violence. It did not work and I had him expelled from class. Merry Freaking Christmas!
The issue now is the fact that I am sitting at my desk and hoping my shoulder and hip will stop hurting enough before second period so that I can get out of my chair to greet the next class. I also have to figure out exactly what it is that I am going to do tomorrow when I have to greet the kid again. It is not really his fault. His brain works different then other people. All he knows how to really do with his bad feelings is lash out. I have to remember a time when I too had only the insanity of violence to react to my bad emotions. I can feel empathy for the child, and will probably forgive him in a few minutes. Right now I am in a bad mood (imagine that) and I am praying I can leave it on this page. Gone are the eloquent words I am able to put on paper. Gone are the noble principles behind my feeling that this is a calling. What is really left is a desire to find the asshole that did whatever it was that made the kid the way he is, and show him/her what the results are of his actions. Maybe he/she has arthritis as I do, and I can make them hurt like I am. Maybe I can do many things, but what I can actually do is forgive the kid and pray for him.
Is it still a calling? Well, this isn’t my first rodeo with kids and fistfights, so I guess I’ll do just what I always do. Take some arthritis pain pills and get up tomorrow and come to work. Peace.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fw: Fw: Fw: Fw: Fw: Fw:

It comes to me that a level of clarification is in order. I sit at the keyboard wondering about this medium we are participating in. To wit: the World Wide Web. Initially a result of the Soviet Union beating us into space and the ensuing propagation of the Cold War, it has become a bludgeon onto itself.

As you know (basically because you’re reading this) I have a presence on this informational conduit. Pursuant to that presence I must also partake of that most auspicious of activities we call e-mail. It has offered me both aggravation and inspiration.

I received many solicitations of dubious distinction; I have been informed by person or persons of foreign demeanor that I am the fortunate recipient of 789,253,216, 754,045,824,800,172,408,364,872,982,471,693,804, 821,432 Dollars, Euros, Pounds or Pounds Sterling. I have been informed of a like amount available to me by way of government grants. I have a myriad of folks wishing to save me from the desperate, derelict life I am leading through the judicious use of information I already have, or could obtain easily, and will give this respite for a one time donation (of the same amount as my previous benefactors) to the Great and Good Revelational Theosocialological Psychoglorius Cathedral of the One True Enlightened Path to Eternal Illumination Elucidation Amplification, and Clarification Church just two blocks south of the Juvenile Attention Center on the North Loop, right next to Flaco and Julio’s used tires and lawn service.

I can go to school to be anything from a CPA to a Proctologist. I can be all that I can be (regardless of my Honorable Discharge) in the Army. I can be given millions of dollars of goods and service absolutely free as long as I respond to three sponsor offers. I can make that same 789,253,216,754,045,824,800,172,408,364,872,
982,471,693,804,821,432 Dollars, Euros, Pounds or Pounds Sterling working part time from home. And lastly, I can reply to the hundred of Fw: Fw: Fw: Fw: Fw: Fw: emails I get from people I know, or do not know.

Where once the Net was for the protection of the Democratic Universe as we wished we knew it, it has now become a much more insidious attack on mankind. I do, however, suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous cyber fortune with a willing heart and a patient mind. I am aware that all I have to do if I get something I do not like is…not read it.

I am the most fortunate of men in that I have a legion of kind, loving folks that send me these e-mails offering me blessings, or money if I forward the mail to “all in my address book.” Why. They sent it to me, I have to resend it or…or…or NOTHING WILL HAPPEN! I think that is the essence of this form of correspondence. It is not necessarily about what you will get as much as it is about that nothing is going to happen as a result of you sending it on. God will not bless you a hundred thousand times, you will not get rich in proportion to the number of people you annoy by passing it on. Therein lies the rub. If you see something that is written in a way that conveys a positive, loving message, why not let it be just that? If I don’t choose to share it with someone I do not like in the first place then, I can hope somebody else shares it with my enemies so these antagonists of mine can annoy others instead of me when they respond to cuss the poor ignorant fool out for sending them such tripe. I already have enough people pissed off at me. Why would I want any more?

I am a self confessed sender of such as I have described. I do it for a number of reasons. The blessings I send on for that specific reason. To bless those I have affection for. I require no reply. I require no action on the part of the recipients of these blessings. I send them because they are, quite simply, a nice thing to do for someone you love.

I will confess to engaging in a cyber war with some folks who worship at a different political temple then I. We had an extremely active season what with the recent election. Being on the right side (or should I say the correct side) I have enjoyed the discourse and will continue the banter with certain folks. Disagreeing about politics does not make enemies. Not disagreeing and silently judging is the path of the Haters. All the members of my particular political war of wits are Americans, as am I, and we all understand the rights given us in this great country…and we are all still friends.

I send on the money bribes because it works. Not for everyone, but it certainly works for me. 100% of the time. Every time, and I mean every time I have sent on an e-mail that said I will receive money if I do…I do. Receive money, that is. No, I have not been given the keys to Shangri-La, but I have received some remuneration for each forwarded e-mail. Most of this comes from opportunities given me through my web presence by way of easy to perform freelance writing gigs. Some of it comes from scratch-off lottery tickets. Some of it comes from vendors in my life who give me money back for being a faithful customer. Regardless of the source, I receive cold hard cash every single time I send on one of these “make you rich from passing on a bullshit e-mail” schemes. Being raised in a capitalistic regime, I am not going to mess with something that works. I am going to take the money and run…straight to the Cherry Garcia store!

So, what is left? Well, I certainly hope I haven’t nurtured any level of ire in those reading. I will say that if I have, in fact, created anger in some, then I will tell you that the best thing I can say is…DON’T READ ANY MORE OF MY E-MAILS. To those who believe this is drivel, I wish you well amongst the dammed of the cyber world. To those who know me, know that I love you and wish nothing but good things when I send you a Fw: Fw: Fw: Fw: Fw: Fw: e-mail. Peace.

P.S If you don’t believe the thing about the money, send me one and see if I don’t ask you out to lunch.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Well I get to use this blog for what I intend to it…to complain, protest, criticize, grumble, whine, carp, nitpick, object, accuse, ascribe, attack, beef, bellyache, bemoan, bewail, bitch, carp, cavil, charge, contravene, defy, demur, denounce, deplore, deprecate, differ, disagree, disapprove, dissent, expostulate, find fault, fret, fuss, gainsay, grieve, gripe, groan, grouse, growl, grumble, impute, indict, kick up a fuss, lament, lay, look askance, make a fuss, moan, nag, object, oppose, protest, refute, remonstrate, repine, reproach, snivel, sound off, take exception to, wail, whimper, whine, yammer about some situation in my life that I perceive as unacceptable, intolerable, improper, deplorable, offensive, undesirable, objectionable or just plain bullshit!
For the first time since I ventured into the cyber-cosmos with my vain and ofttimes brilliant prose (if you agree then send help me find a for-pay publisher) I feel in need of offering an apology to my faithful readership. The first paragraph was, indeed, an extended and preposterous use of both the thesaurus that comes with my word processing software, and the best to be found on the World Wide Web. Hiding behind the pretense of a being a wise scribe, I am quite literally lurking about wishing I could display my indigenous personality instead of perpetrating the façade which is before you. I want to curse, and curse LOUDLY!!!!
I came upon a situation at work, you know, the first job that I have ever truly loved, that has caused me to be reassigned to another campus. Much of this is not for general publication except the fact that I have been blind-sided by the news that I am not, contrary to what I have been told many times, been fulfilling my duties as an English teacher. Since the first of the school year I have been enrolled in a teacher certification program which is designed to improve my skills as a teacher, and aid the school by adding another “Highly Qualified Teacher” to its roles. I’ve already detailed my ventures back into the task of becoming, once more, a student.
I have learned many things over the last six months, and have indeed been certified as a “Highly Qualified Teacher”. This is a designation required of school to provide under the federal “No Child Left Behind” legislation. Politically this is a quagmire for schools to comply with. The law itself is a great idea, but the implementation has caused my small charter school some difficulty. We have many great teachers who are, in fact, hugely qualified and we will be all right once the convoluted language of the law is deciphered.
My own dilemma is that I have been suborned by someone who has previously sung my praises. I understand this happening as it has happened to me before. I face a number of difficulties in my life which have contributed to a long journey in seek of enlightenment, employment, and what some would call respectability. I am fat. I am a recovering drug addict. I am better educated than roughly 97% of the rest of the country (US Census).
Being fat has always been a fact in my life. It has caused me much difficulty in seeking employment to the point that, at times, I have had to rely on public assistance to maintain a lifestyle. I have been thought of as inferior by the news media, employers, colleagues, doctors, some potential romantic involvements, and society in general. Many times I have had to submit to people attempting to educate me on subjects that I have expert knowledge of. I had an experience (more then once) of sitting in a business meeting while someone explained to me a particular procedure or practice that I developed and implemented with success. I am constantly being patronized and condescended to. My favorite is (and this has happened hundreds of times) when someone speaks a little slower and a little louder to ensure that the poor fat guy will understand. I have spoke of this before so I will no longer belabor the issue.
I was ten years old when I made to first conscious decision to use a mind altering, mood changing substance. This was a result of being told by my father that I could not go and live with him…that he did not want me. What occurred over the next thirty two years of active addiction is a tale for another place. I will say that I have learned, which I could not know at ten years old, that I had the disease of addiction. The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association all define it as a disease. A disease, not a moral dilemma. I found recovery and discovered that it is definitely a chronic, progressive and fatal disease for which there is treatment. I have found that treatment, the result of which is that I am clean for 13 years. Best statistics reveal that 95% of people who get clean the way I did relapse. I have not.
In the summer of 1987, as a result of this disease, I found myself homeless. Direct responsibility for this situation falls entirely on me. Yes I have a disease, but the disease did not cause my landlord to evict me. I took up residence underneath a bridge near a creek with a fishing pole, and a beat up used car to live in. Coming late to the ideal that if you give a man a fishing pole he will never be hungry, I did not fare well. I sat by that creek and realized that there had to be something better out there. The result of these ruminations gave me the will to pursue an education. The process took a bit of time. I had to admit I needed help, much the same method for finding recovery, I went to My Dear Sainted Mother and, as always, she took in her worthless hobo of a son. We struggled for a while until she and I found a way for me to go back to school. It appears that we live in a country where a person can advance themselves on effort, determination and hard work. God Bless America.
I went to a technical school where the admission counselor looked at my test score and shook his head. It’s a shame that I had little chance because I was functionally illiterate. Yes, I could read and scored well on the entrance exam, but I could not write cursive and that would cause me to fail. I was admitted anyway and I discovered a computer in the library. I have never looked back. Several college degrees later I sit at this keyboard exercising my skill at the keyboard…a published writer. That counselor got to see me march into his office and display those degrees. It became a ritual for me, and it made him glad he had used an extreme method to bring out the best in me. The last time we met before his retirement, he hugged me and told me he was proud of me. My Dear Sainted Mother got to see her worthless hobo of a son graduate with honors…several times.
I am uncomfortable writing this page. I do not generally seek recognition for my successes. There was a time when I believed my education made me who I am, and I would sing loudly how smart I was, but the miracle of recovery has taught me that humility is a much healthier character trait. What I have done with this education is work at some kind of job where I could help people like me find a way to succeed. “Pulling myself up by my bootstraps” would certainty describe what I have done, but it is not as important as what I am doing today.
So what about the reassignment? I guess it just turns out to be a case of workplace politics. The offender in this case is me. I am always the offender simply because I am involved in all that is good, and all that is bad in my life. The perpetrator, however, in this instance is someone of power in my world. One who does not possess a degree, yet apparently possesses the ability to play politics better then I do. I really don’t wish to play politics. I am hurt, and instead of lashing out I am doing what I am taught in recovery. Sharing my feelings.
I find comfort in the face of malice. My superintendent looked me in the eye and told me he had faith in me, enough faith to send me to a campus where the kids might be somewhat more of a challenge, and, where I can possibly be of more help. I think of my kids now. They tell me they love me. They surround me when we go out in public to games and field trips. They tell me of their triumphs and frustrations, they let me hug them when they cry, and sometimes, they hug me when I cry. Peace.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Sitting in my almost comfortable chair, watching Sixty Minutes, I realize that I am experiencing an unusual feeling. It is not an unfamiliar feeling. It comes from time to time when I am bored, or not sufficiently motivated by the external influences I experience at any given time. It comes upon me in subtle ways. It is almost like a whisper. It is a small voice inside my mind telling me that something is about to occur. Given this pseudo physic knowledge of impending occurrences, I get another feeling, this time in the smallest part of my stomach. It also speaks in a small voice. Yet, perhaps it is not so sublime. Perchance it is a more deep-throated summons. Growing in volume and intensity it almost… but not quite…becomes a discernible intonation. Not quite words…but…how can it be…are they words. Could it be some type of summons from the Great Beyond? Might it be a command from within? It is almost an urgent insistence that calls for capitulation. But from my stomach?
I look around the room finding no respite. Everyone is attempting to listen to this small woman on the other side of the building from me. I have no idea what she is speaking of. I firmly believe that the only sound that needs to come my way should have some relevance. All else needs to stay outside my notice, as I am an opinionated fool at best, and the rest of the world really does not deserve the inane ranting I am capable of. However, as I am wont to say, you dialed up the webpage so you get to read this tirade.
I have recently had occasion to spend some time in the pursuit of enlightenment on the state of financial affairs as it relates to my ability to maintain my status as an acceptable, responsible, and productive member of society. I sit here with the vast sum of ninety six cents in my pocket with which to beat back the beast that is life. Additionally, I have somewhere in the neighborhood of one dollar and forty two cents in the bank. This is my wealth totalamente for the next eight days when the heavens shall open and manna from heaven will arrive in the guise of a paycheck.
Not to worry, though. I have gas in my truck, victuals in the larder, two-thirds of a pack of cigarettes, and a two dollar winning scratch off lottery ticket which I will turn in for another because, surely, I am going to hit a jackpot this time. Life is good.
My bills are currently at a level which exceeds my income in the foreseeable future. Added to that, my truck is having abandonment issues and has decided it needs me to pay more attention to it…to the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars. The acquisition of this level of coinage is truly a mystery for the ages.
I ruminate over the solution to my dilemma and wonder if it is, perhaps, just my lot in life. A depressing notion given my state of aspiration for the new vehicular conveyance I am watching on the television. It’s a beauty. Fancy wheels, night black, an engine that will go from zero to sixty in les time then it takes for me to count the money in my pocket. Maybe I’ll just take a nap. “To sleep, perchance to dream” or, at least, some variation of that variety of excrement.
Then the show resumes and I am watching a segment on the state of financial affairs in this Great Country of ours. The “Financial Bailout” being the topic or, in this case, the reason for the pickle the pecuniary philosopher’s who run this country have gotten us in. This report speaks of a once outlawed practice of gambling on the stock market that once caused a major bank panic and depression in America and Mexico. Apparently, the party with whom I identify let this happen in a deal for sympathetic voting on a favored issue back in the 1990’s. This was the same government that Back in 1990;
“Seized the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada for tax evasion and, as required by law, tried to run it. They failed and it closed! Now we are trusting the economy of our country to a pack of nit-wits who couldn't make money running a whore house and selling booze?”
Furthermore, it was revealed that the so-called “Bailout for $740,000,000, 000” actually ended up costing $140,000,000,000 that nobody knew about until the Administration signed the bill. For what did this extra money go for? Well, as it turns out, there are a number of bank executives that will end up getting six figure bonuses this year for screwing up. Now, mind you, this constitutes significant cuts from the seven an eight figure bonuses they are used to. Oh, the tragedy of it all! I mean, what’s a man to do with a mere six or seven hundred thousand dollars?
Now here I sit with forty six cents (the kid next door rolled my trash can out to the curb and gracefully accepted the fifty cents instead of his normal dollar so as to prevent me from risking arrest as a vagrant) and wonder if there is some way I could use this “Crisis” to my advantage. Mmmmm…
Well, I no longer qualify for public assistance because I am a school teacher. Certainly this is a noble profession which I love, but not exactly one which leaves me in the top tax bracket. Actually, standing at the entrance to Wal-Mart with a sign stating “Will teach for food” is not an entirely foreign ideal.
I received an e-mail recently that suggested that if that bailout money was actually divided to the citizens of America, the recuperation of the finance system could occur in a much more timely fashion. In this plan everyone would receive about $242,000. After taxes and paying off debt, each of us would, on average, have enough to put a reasonable down payment on one of those foreclosed houses, and buy a new car.
Well, I do not think that I can count on receiving a check within the foreseeable future. The last one took a month longer to get to me then I was told. Maybe I’ll just live with my twenty six cents (I lost twenty cents somewhere on the quagmire that is my desk) and not complain. Go cook some Wonder Food, and work on my cardboard sign…

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Sitting at my instrument of enlightenment, I realize that I am patiently waiting for my lights to go out. It is the occasion of the advent of Hurricane Ike in my hometown. Although I reside almost three hundred miles from the coast, this accumulation of wind, rain, thunder and destruction has set its sights on my electric service. I realize that I, as previously admitted, have little adeptness in the realm of clairvoyance. I do not really know that the electricity is going to cease, but I do. I dwell in that part of my hamlet that is clearly several notches down on the priority list the local energy provider maintains in their efforts to endow its customers with the miracle of light as given us by the Great Spirit. My lights go out when there is no reasonable explanation. Perfectly sunny days and wonderful spring evenings are just a susceptible to outages as when circumstances deliver the most egregious of atmospheric situations. The income level of myself and my neighbors is significantly less significant then other portion of the kingdom. Hence, when the tempest arrives I will be candle bent and darkness bound. (Yes, I am listening to a country radio station)

My resolve this afternoon is to finish something worthy of publication on the World Wide Web. I have eschewed the apple of my eye (cable television) in a quest for determined implementation of my craft. Enough, however, I need a theme. Once more I go to a predominantly irritating topic, in my opinion…Patriotism.

I sat at my desk one afternoon last week attempting to catch up on my new duties as an ENGLISH teacher. I looked around at my cluttered desk, and an even more disorderly work table wondering how I am ever going to teach six different grade levels of ENGLISH. I capitalize the word ENGLISH because it is the ultimate instance of irony I can think of. I hated ENGLISH teachers going through school. They were always getting in the way with their insistence on proper grammar and scolding me for using split infinitives. My comma usage sucked, and my handwriting has all the similarity in the world to what that demon of a seventh grade ENGLISH teacher called “Chicken Scratch.”

As little as just three months ago I existed in a world where I had exposed them all as fiendishly erroneous in their morally bankrupt assessment of my abilities. Not only had I succeeded in life in spite of my “unconventional” method of written communication, I became what some call a righteously gifted writer.

I never remember even knowing what a split infinitive was, until I attended a speech by a gentleman who was a former United States Teacher of the Year. He told a story of speaking with a student one day, and the distress in the young man’s life seemed to make grammar usage insignificant. After he finished speaking, I realized that the subject taught matters little when stacked up to the kid in front of you. The experience made me remember two of those self fashioned “demons” who made a difference in my life. One was my eleventh grade ENGLISH teacher who told me it was just fine with him if I did a paper on a famous Spanish Bullfighter because I thought I could become similarly famous, and Sister Anne Georgine. That “demon” knocked the crap out of me one day because she thought I was making fun of her behind her back. She also gave up her lunch period to talk to me about what was going on with me. At the time I could not tell her that I hated my stepfather, and she told me that when I was ready, to put it on paper. Forty-three years later, here I am, following her instruction and teaching ENGLISH. Go figure.

Now I can get to the true object of my ramblings this blustery afternoon. I had one of my kids come and tell me he joined the Marines. The information unquestionably broke my heart. No longer did I trouble myself with all that is ENGLISH. I looked in this kid’s eyes and checked his body language and realized that he is serious. He explained that he felt it in his heart to follow in his brother’s footsteps and fight for his country. I wanted to scream at him, and shake him, and tell him that it is a bogus war. I wanted to sit him down at my computer and bring up all the articles about how the American people and been lied to by the President. I wanted to forbid him from going. I wanted him to stay alive!

What I wanted had nothing to do with what I did. By becoming an ENGLISH teacher, I accepted the idea that what I want is secondary to the kids. What I believe can only be an opinion. What is important is to accept the limitations of my ego, and just listen. I am not a counselor. Just a teacher.

What I could do was tell him the truth. I told him the truth about what he will experience. I told him that he was giving up several of his constitutional rights. I told him that if he was told to do something he did not want to do it, they could and would put him in jail. I told him that every Marine is considered a front line soldier, regardless of their military specialty. I told him that he was going to change, and that it might not be in a good way. I repeated this so that he would understand. I went into the service and came out changed. Everyone I know who is a veteran entered the service and came back changed. I told him about my Uncle Buddy.

I also told him that what he is doing is an honorable thing. Despite my vehement opposition to war, I remember volunteering for patriotic reasons, and thought it was the honorable thing to do because it is. If you’ve never served, this is a foreign ideal to you. It is not for any Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Coast Guardsmen, or veteran. And God Bless them for their courage.

I put down my grade book, and turned off the monitor of my computer. The muddle would be here when I got back. I did the only meaningful thing I could. I told him I was proud of him. I told him that I loved him. God, please make it enough.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Only the Lonely

Sitting at home on Saturday night watching some tube, I find myself with an itch. I’ve been watching a concert on PBS. Yes, I’ve turned into one of those cerebral dupes that enjoys watching Channel 13. As a child and adolescent, I found this station “Oh-My-God-Boring!!!” I now embrace it as an old friend. It certainly far surpasses the late night soft core porn on the cable movies station for entertainment, especially when you’re home alone.

I remember in years gone by I would look forward to Saturday night. In my youth it meant going someplace to listen to live music. Sometimes this meant a concert in the city. Sometimes just some bar where the local talent played for tips or drinks, and always ended the night with a rousing rendition of “Johnny Be Good.” Somewhere along the journey into senior citizenship, I lost this most cherished of activities.

The concerts became uncomfortable as I grew in age, and girth. Thousands of screaming, drunk or high, fans in a stadium or other large venue became irksome, and unwanted. Finding recovery dampened the drive to visit the local venues. My first sponsor tells people all the time that if alcohol is a drug, then the bar is a dope house. Makes sense to those of similar mind and desire as I. I’ve gotten to enjoy waking up and knowing what happened the night before. I watched Chuck Berry on the Tonight Show the other night, and as soon as he finished performing a rather mild version of his classic, I turned off the television. Maybe it was out of disappointment in watching how slow both Chuck and myself have gotten, or maybe it was because I had to go to bed and get up for work. In truth, I recorded the show, and watched it in the afternoon. Right before I took my daily nap.

But I digress. This evening I watched “The Who at Killburn.” It was the next to last performance prior to the death of Keith Moon. “Back in the day,” the Who was my favorite band. I remember buying the “Live at Leeds” album and having my mother continuously tell me to turn it down. “Tommy” changed my life. The message of rebellion and the pure power of the sound combined with the unadulterated and savagely perfect talent of the band spoke to my idiotically naïve adolescent soul. “My Generation,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Baba O’Reilly,” and the ultimate anthem of all anthems…”Pinball Wizard!” These were the sounds of my spirit, and drove the plan for my life. I would rebel no matter what it took. The best I ever got to rebellion was to sneak away with one of my cousins to Woodstock where I nearly caught a piece of one of Keith Moon’s drumstick when they destroyed the set. I was on crutches in a cast up to my hip and the crowd let me get close to the stage. I was visiting my father, and he thought I had gone to the New Jersey Shore for the weekend. I never told my family, and got away with it. Then again, there are many things my family never caught me at. Now, its all just stories for holiday’s and family gatherings. My Dear Sainted Mother would have a fit if she knew. I am sure that if I get to go where she is now, I’ll have a lot to answer for. Hopefully, while she’s cooking me chicken and noodles.

I think I drifted away from music because of the complexity of how it is done now. Big fancy stages with light shows and bombs going off, and dozens of people on stage at one time making it near impossible to figure out who the star is until they sing a slow song with a spotlight on them. Frenzied crowds of scantily clad dancers perform gyrations and whirl about with seemingly perfect coordination with the legion of musicians and synthesized sounds. No equipment in sight, electronic keyboards like you can buy at Wal-Mar and lyrics that are unrecognizable and meaningless. Pageantry at its best…or is it?

I spent some of my misspent youth as a roadie. I never had the licks to learn to play. Being a roadie was as close as I could get to that insurgency I vowed would be the work of my life. It was a time when there were thousands of pounds of equipment for even the smallest of bands. The Who led the pack with banks of Marshall Amplifiers, and a drum set that had to have had thirty or thirty-five pieces. Basically, everywhere Keith Moon put his stick down (actually slammed) some kind of thunderous sound occurred. As to the dancing, Peter Townsend out danced the best of the best, all the while playing a Les Paul and never missing a note or chord. Wires everywhere and never a slip or fall, except those nights when they were too drunk or high to maintain. Even when that happened, they made it part of the show. Roger Daltry swinging a microphone, on a long duck taped wire in a way reminiscent of David launching the stone at Goliath, only he never let go, and never missed a verse. Loud, annoying, irreverent, caustic, and absolutely soul stirring rock and roll at its utter, unreserved, unconditional, total best, and all for about ten dollars. Tonight it was free…well at least all it cost was the effort it took to work the remote in my comfortable living room with the big chair and a glass of tea next to the ashtray where I can aggravate my COPD as I wish, instead of missing some of the show because I had to go outside to smoke so that I wouldn’t give somebody the gift of my emphysema through the secondhand smoke drifting in the air.

Do you know how I know that my music is better? I have a cockatiel who is my current housemate. When newer music is playing she squawks and complains until I turn it off. This evening, she sat and watched while chirping in time with the music. As I finish this piece, I am listening to another concert on PBS, Roy Orbison and a bunch of other famous old guys. She is asleep.

So what now? Well it is 1:00 AM, and this old guy needs to go to sleep. What am I trying to say with this piece? I believe The Who said is best…I hope I die before I get old!

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Brotherhood of Neon

I sit in my classroom watching the valiant waif’s placed my charge work on an exercise the topic of which is discrimination. We began this day by reading a story in the literature textbook on the bus desegregation events of the 1950’s. Rosa Parks was, as she has always been, the hero of the tale.

The class size is twelve young men, two-thirds of which are what we now refer to as the politically correct term “people of color.” I abhor this term. I hate all that is prejudicial and hold particular scorn that which is intolerant within me. To denigrate someone in this manner is a crime against nature. What is wrong with just calling them people? Why do we have to single them out as someone or something different? What the hell does their color have to do with who or what they are? Shit!

I have spent time in my life where the color of a person’s skin mattered to me. For those times I am mortified and deeply apologetic, even though saying I am sorry might just be the best definition of who I might be…one sorry son of a bitch. I live in a world of my own making most of the time and attempt to value things based on what I believe is appropriate. This system of standards is an ever evolving creature. I am currently in the stage where I, perhaps, devolve. I have found all the things wrong in my world and rather then champion the causes I find irksome, I defer to the comfort of my classroom, and the proverbial “mouths of babes.” My kids are currently my muse, and the rhythm, much to my displeasure, is in the cadence if Hip-Hop. Long live Tupac Shakur (sic).

I observe these children with wonder and amusement. This particular class population consists of teenagers who are in an inpatient substance abuse program for adolescents. Their life is full of prejudice of an institutional manner. There are harsh rules they are obligated to comply with or circumstance can become extremely unpleasant. Infractions always result in consequences the worst being that they can go to prison. This means a state youth facility that is, in reality, prisons for kids. The nature of these offenses can certainly be worthy of incarceration, but many are things that I, as an adult take for granted.

The lesser infractions result in what is called “slow-down.” This a state in which the culprit is not allowed to speak unless spoken to by the staff of the program or me as the teacher. They are required to wear a neon colored vest similar to what the flag people on a paving crew would where. Having, in a past life, earned a living wearing one of these vests, I know the purpose for the color is to ensure one may be seen and hopefully not run over by an irritated motorist anxious to get on their way. In the case of the boys, it is an announcement to the little world of academia we exist in that this transgressor has transgressed. What the offense might be is no longer something I have desire to know. What seems petty and insignificant is not for me to judge, just the same way it is not my place to judge another based on such arbitrary and capricious items as age, race, sexual identity, creed, religion, or lack of religion (this list compiled from recovery literature). Would that I could heed my own counsel. I, shamefully, have grown to hate people who hate. Sesquipedalianism will not aid this dearth within me. I can not write my way out of this scarcity of principled convention. I am incapable of justifying the loathing of what I would liken to be unprincipled and criminal activity as long as I purport myself in similar manner. It is not okay to hate.

I learned this in class, watching my would-be paving flagmen. They sit in my room and remind me that they have consequences in their life that would be violated if they did certain activities I assign. I chose to get my students to work in groups and if a member of the group cannot participate through proper communication, I cannot complain of the burden these practices create for me. I just need to respect that these young men, perhaps for the first time in their lives, wish to act in an honorable manner.

Therein lays the rub. If people were to act in as honorable a manner as my kids, the world would be a better place. Teachers like me would probably die an early death from the joy it would bring to there hearts. What’s he talking about? Is he rambling again? Is he exactly as weird and stupid as I first thought? Maybe.

What makes me think on the effects of prejudice is the lack of selfsame offense my kids display. After reading about Rosa Parks, these future captains of our collective well being, all told me that discrimination is Bull! I believed them. I particularly believed them when one of the staff of the treatment program came and collected a few of the ugly neon vests and they cheered for their peers who had lived with their consequences without the need for hatred, bigotry, or spite. God Bless Them! God Bless anyone who likes these actions! More importantly, God Bless those who do not choose to live with the principles and honor of these righteous offspring of a world where bigotry and hatred most certainly still exists! There are, metaphorically, still buses that require some of us to sit in the back. Peace.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what two people share with each other when they are uncool.” Phillip Seymour Hoffman in “Almost Famous,” 2001

Sitting and watching this movie the night before the Fourth of July I am wondering where it all went. Waxing philosophical is a past time of mine at this particular point in time. I am having a particularly harsh time of it this week, and I do not really know why. I type away at this keyboard and what I really want to do is crawl into my bed and cry.

I am exhausted and see little relief in the near future. I would normally be on vacation right now, but the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune have dictated that I am back in school…as a student instead of as a teacher. I exist in this strange seemingly bizarre reality where 90% of everyone in my life calls me “Mr. Reilly.” When in the hell did I become a “Mister: or a “Sir?”

I watch this movie that takes place in the 1970’s when life stood for something. Albeit, a life of irresponsibility, peculiarity, and beauty. A simple life where the pursuit of happiness stood for all, and reality was a crashing bore. Even after so many years, I find that I still yearn for that ease and comfort. I want to go to a WHO concert, smoke some stuff I got from a dude outside the arena, and try to get backstage and party with whoever would talk to us. Hopefully this meant the company of whatever nubile young ladies not lucky enough to make it into the bands room. Who would deny that those long lost earlier times always appear grand with the benefit of hindsight and an eight year old movie rerun on one of the second level cable movie channel.

I yearn to be young again, but that passion for times gone is just another shot at grumbling about my age. Oh my aching ass! Grow the hell up, “Mister Reilly.”

Well, now that I have that out of my system, I can get on with the real reason for this evenings tirade. I am waiting on some e-mail that has my life shut down to a certain extent. It is an annoying fact of life that technology, with all its wonders, is undeniably uncooperative at times. So I get to waste some time meandering around the words in my head and typing what is assuredly dribble. Well, you opened the link, so you get to read this slaver.

Wiling my time at this keyboard I have the television on and have discovered an amazing fact. The dialogue used in the soft porn industry that keeps cable industry afloat after 10PM could use some help. Actually it is quite amusing. I am listening and not watching and it is actually bringing me to a better mood. Nothing like the absurd to beat off the beast that is “Mister Reilly.” God save cable television.

Well it is time to get back to some serious television watching. I have a pirate movie recorded and I think I will delve into the realm of “shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings.” Peace

Thursday, June 12, 2008

To Crutch or not to Crutch

Once upon a time there was a young man who dreamed of greatness. He came from simple folk who wanted the world for him. He spent most of his time in a land of great turmoil where there was always some conflict going on. Noble Knights and valiant warriors fought glorious battles and champions brought home flags and banners from the vanquished enemies. The kings rewarded his faithful soldiers with gifts of titles, lands riches, and noble brides.

The peasants of the kingdom, of which our young man belonged, loved their nobles and worked hard in the fields and the villages to pay the taxes and levies that kept their soldiers supplied and the king comfortable. All seemed as paradise but for one thing. The young man did not like being a peasant and wished to change his providence to one of splendor and recognition. “Divine intervention is your only hope, boyo.” The old drunken tinker would tell him. “You’ve come from a family of simple souls and it is your place in this world to live a simple life.” Once more the old sot crushed the dream keeping this young man going.

Is destiny that hard a thing? Do you really have to live in a world you find boring and useless? Why can I not strive for more? Why? Why? Why?

Sitting on the bank of a river, instead of doing his chores, the boy never heard the laughter of the girls swimming just a few feet away. All of a sudden, one of them noticed the boy sitting and looking glum. The girl signaled her friends to circle up while she detailed a scheme. They all giggled at the wickedness she came up with. Ever so quietly they swam to the boy. One of them got out of the water and circled around behind the boy. She, as all the girls, was naked. When she touched his shoulder and he turned to find a beautiful blonde girl standing behind him, the boy lost his grip on the bank and found himself in the river surrounded by a bevy of naked women all involved with separating him from his clothes.

At first he panicked, thinking it was some kind of attack. Then, his hormones and pubescent physicality realized a great truth…it’s not so bad to be naked in a river with a bunch of girls. Fright turned into glee when he grasped the situation, and he gladly joined in the fun hoping for the potential for the deflowering of at least one of the lovely young and bawdy girls.

All of a sudden there came a great roaring. Looking up the boy saw the group of men on the bank in armor and mounted on great warhorses. The roar came from the King whose daughter the boy was groping, grasping, and under different circumstances molesting. In what seemed like but the smallest part of a second, the water held only the poor, naked, boy. The girls had fled and the King and his knights were left with naught but their anger and a scrawny butt of a boy shivering from the cold of an unwanted and potentially disastrous discovery.

When the huge knight walked his horse in the river while loosing a tree branch to use as a club, the boy knew that his destiny had been changed from one of simple soul to dungeon denizen…

Well that is one way of telling the story of how I got arrested one time. Naked as the day I was born. The “King was a police officer in a small town upstate New York. The girls I embraced were his daughters, and the occasion was one of those skinny dipping parties youngsters would pull back in what I call the age of reason. That age being when drinking and smoking a little pot was not only an acceptable pursuit, but actually expected in some areas of society. It was after I exited the Army, and the first summer of freedom enjoyed by this writer without the encumbrance of family. I went willingly (after all, I WAS naked) and spent the night in jail. The next day the local judge came by and told me and my fellow arrestees that the charge against us was “Acts against Nature.”

Sounding as ominous and life ruining as it probably was this charge had nothing to do with what the true disposition of the offense. Realistically, would it not be a natural occurrence for a twenty-one year-old, red-blooded American man and recent veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces to seek the company of young, nubile women of unrestrictive moral posture? It was the 1970’s for God’s sake!

What it actually did for me, was introduce me to the American system of justice in that upon hearing the charge, I immediately asked for a lawyer and told him I was unemployed. So did the other eight guys in the cell with me. The judge looked at us and promptly reduced the charge to public nuisance. I always figured he’d added up what it would cost the town for all those free lawyers and discretion proved to be the better part of bankrupting the small town of Downsville, N.Y. Twenty-five dollars later, (paid by, to the chagrin of their father, by my swimming companions) I left the jail and went in search of my clothes.

I detail this story as a part of a series of pieces on the encroaching age related frailty I am currently not enjoying, and in expectation of my senior citizenship. If the same incident were to happen today with a pair of nubile young women of unrestrictive moral posture the charge really would be “Acts against Nature” given my age. Additionally, if I were even able to get into a river with my clothes off, it would, given my girth, take a wrecker and four large men to get my big ass back out of the river. Also, if the removal from the river did not send me to the hospital, the night in the drunk-tank sleeping naked on a cement slab masquerading as a bed would put me on crutches.

At twenty-one this story makes sense. At almost fifty-five I am wont to whine for days gone by that will never return. I recently shared this story with the current holder of my amorous attentions (forty-five years old) and she told me that she would be happy to go swimming in the river with me any time I wished. Now the dictionary has two definitions of nubile. One details that to be nubile one must be a girl or woman who is eligible to marry. The other speaks of sexual attraction. Both of which my current paramour fits by way of description, ability, and enthusiasm. The issue is… do I want to recapture my youth, or spend the next month on crutches? Maybe if I promise to marry her, she will take up the care and respite of this victim of advancing age who refuses to go gently into that good night. Hope springs eternal. Peace.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

To rant or not to rant…one man’s journey into all that is restless, irritable, and, discontent

Upon awakening this morning, I came to a rather disturbing realization, or rather, a few disturbing realization, that have fashioned my mind and my fingers to produce that which has eluded me here of late. First, it has been a fortnight or better since last I dazzled the world with the prose of a self-proclaimed maven of all that is written. Next came that most irritating fact of life I face every morning when I awaken; I hurt and must sit on the side of my bed until it stops hurting. This fine morn, it took the better part of an hour. If it had been a workday, I would have called out. I had not that luxury this Saturday morning. All I could do was hurt. Then there were my plans for the day, of which there were none. I intended to write a story about one of my colleagues and watch movies the rest of the day, figuring this would have been a noble road to pursue. Instead here I sit, still hurting a little, at the keyboard spitting venom from my fingers sans the benefit of even the first cup of coffee. Excuse me a moment…

All right, I have the coffee and it burnt my freaking mouth! I am incapable of doing much about it considering I am at home and not my local MacDonald’s. Well, if I could sue myself, the lawyer probably would not take the case because I am fat, and crazy.

A cigarette usually tastes good with that morning ambrosia with the lava like demeanor, except I am attempting to quit. Screw it. If I am going to bitch, I might as well get the full effect. Cough, cough, cough.

What I am really getting at this morning is an attempt to, once more; explain my relationship with the emotion of anger. I have always expressed my anger in a plethora of methods, most employing a high decibel bellowing. I have, over the years in recovery, cultivated some tools to deal with the more negative aspects of my ire. I have a therapist, and a whole horde of friends who are wise in the matters of life who offer suggestions, and kind words. I have my job, which has taught me the most. It is not acceptable to show anger in the manner I usually display it in the presence of children.

One of these tools is to list the things that anger me. Well, here it is: I have a kid at school that has discovered that there are “buttons” he can push which will elicit reactions and actions of a negative nature. I had to have him removed from class in order to prevent an unplanned trip to the orthodontist. It is summer and I have not yet received my summer school assignment. It is extra pay that I am counting on. I have to, and by have to, I mean that I volunteered to go back to school. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am already the largest depository of useless knowledge in the universe.

I have watched my candidate for President obtain the nomination, and watch his rival hold on, beyond hope, to the campaign until her colleagues in the Senate and Congress threatened her out of it. I am now stuck with the news media and there inane speculations of her viability as Vice-President. I fear that it will not happen and that the Republicans will get the opportunity to sodomize the country for another four or eight years.

Two weeks from today, I will be a senior citizen. My young friend, who I have written about, and I know all too much about the Super Hero universe for me to be an old man. I absolutely missed the appearance of Stan Lee in the Iron Man movie until the Kid told me about it. I thought the Indian Jones movie was great given the age of the lead actor. My aficionado status in this genre is at risk! Help! Help!

I am near rage over the problem I am having typing today. The fingers are simply not working, as I would like them. Numerous and frequent editing is necessary this morning. Well, why don’t you just edit when you are done? Because my typing is so terrible in combination with the memory problems I am have with my approaching age driven infirmities make it such that if I wait to edit, I won’t remember what the words were supposed to be.

I am irked that I have been writing this blog for three months and have received not one comment. It's a blog folks. You're supposed to complain about it or tell me how wonderful I am! Let's get with the program!

I called my sponsor, a wonderful man whose name simply spoken aloud is sufficient to calm me down, told me that it just might be in my nature to be angry. Amazingly, I did not get angry at this and actually felt a little better. He spoke of his grand daughter and her propensity towards rage. I felt humbled by the inference. I realized that the rest of the world does not deserve my bile. Well, at least not in person. (You chose to read this. I might have sent you the email, but you picked up the snake)

I did have some uncertainty as to the “Nature” thing and went to the omniscient Google to see what perspicacious acumen might be forthcoming. What I got was Aristotle.

Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.

This knowledge accomplished Aristotle’s probable purpose in even saying it. It confused the crap out of me. So much for the wise scribe. I think I will go watch the food channel. It makes more sense to learn how to barbecue then to bitch about self-driven, self-created bullshit. Peace.

Monday, May 26, 2008


It is Memorial Day and I take finger to keyboard in an effort to honor the day in some manner. On the other hand, perhaps it might be due to the fact that I have been able to write for a number of days now, and I do not wish to break a pattern. Either way, you opened it, so you get to live with it.

I have a number of things I would recollect that need telling (or retelling) and most of them would be true. True, that is, once you remove the artistic license I take from time to time. I could cajole into thinking something is important and in need of recall. I could totally make something up and you might never be the wiser. Well, today I choose to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I will not ask God’s help in this as the memory is not one I wish I ever gained, and it will not go away regardless of long effort and craving.

Being a veteran, it would be germane to speak of absent comrades and honor their service and bravery. Although I am not a combat veteran, I do have people I know who gave their lives for their country. My Uncle Buddy comes to mind. It is a stretch to believe that a man who drank himself to death died in service to his country, but that is another piece of work I have somewhere in my catalogue. I know the anguish of losing a loved one, and I remember them for their spirit and love.

I wish to speak of some other individuals who have passed on to the other side. Two in particular. Both are veterans and both died by their own hand. These men were members of the same twelve-step program I credit with saving my life. I met them both during a period in which my occupational life path led me to manage a halfway house for men in recovery from drugs and alcohol. I will not reveal their names as it would be a violation of the main precept of the program. Anonymity.

One was about my age, and the other much younger. One was a Vietnam Veteran and the other served in both Desert Shield, and Desert Storm. The older flew helicopters, and the younger was sailor assigned to shore duty in Kuwait. The older man suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the younger dealt with both Bipolar Disorder and was Borderline Personality Disorder. Each had great difficulty staying clean and suffered whenever they ingest any mind-altering, mood-altering substance. My pilot had the advanced stages of kidney and liver maladies associated with massive use of alcohol. My sailor was a crack addict.

The pilot never suffered the usual losses an addict might. He had kept a job all his life and maintained an average lifestyle. His wife divorced him and that proved to be the end of the road for him. He fell into the bottle and stayed there until he lost his job and had to move out of his house. He moved into the halfway house after a stay in the intensive care ward of the local hospital. The doctors gave him his death sentence, which he not only accepted but also looked forward to. Relief being the attitude he held.

I spent many hours with this man in an effort to aid him towards some peace in his life. All my best efforts went for naught. He incessantly harped on the idea that recovery held no attraction for him. All he was doing is waiting to die and get it over with. He found a job and worked feverishly until he had saved enough to get an apartment and three months bills. He moved out of the recovery house, sat in his apartment, and drank himself to death.

The younger man had spent most of his life in privilege. His family was one of the wealthiest in town. There were several multimillionaires within his lineage going back several generations. There was also the disease of addiction rampant in the current generation and the family wealth had dwindled as a result. There was a seeming prevalence in this particular gene pool toward a predilection for mental illness. The correlation between the dope and insanity has been suggested by many, but I do not have time for such a theoretical conversation, and fully believe any such dialogue is the ilk of research scientists and not for me. As one with the responsibility to aid those seeking help I do, strictly from experience, know that being crazy might be lessened through the ingestion of certain drugs. On the other side of the equation, the ingestion of certain drugs can certainly make someone crazy.

This man came in and out of the program many times during the time I knew him. He came to meetings and left to go get high. I found him on the side of the road, beaten and bloody, and discovered that after he got out of the hospital I took him to, he went straight back to the same neighborhood to get more drugs. He would get into relationships with women and leave them either pregnant of penniless as a direct result of his fanatical need to get crack cocaine. He went to jail, treatment, jail again, Christian camps, prison, and the halfway house where I resided.

He left again and I did not see him for quite some time. I showed up at a meeting one night and there he sat, weeping quietly. I sat down and spoke with him until the meeting began, and for several hours after. We renewed a bond and he asked me to be his sponsor. He told me that he had sold the baby he had with a girl who deserted him and the baby...for about twenty dollars of crack. The child died of pneumonia when the dope dealer left it behind a dumpster. The young man sat in my car distraught and consumed with remorse. I attempted to get him to a psych hospital and failed. A week later, he hung himself.

Both men wee intelligent, caring men when not drunk and high. The things they did when under the influence are terrible actions for a human being. I can see that some might say they got what they deserved. The older for the misery he gave his family, and the younger for the baby. I do not know. I am not, or would ever want to be, judge and jury for these men.

I do not really know what inspired this page. I know that these men came to my mind when I sat down at the keyboard. I know that each had demons within them. They also had worth. I know this from the time I spent with each. I believe all people need remembering…is that not what the day is about? Now some might say that it is for the men who fell in defense of our country. Some might also say that it is a day for heroes. Well both of these men fell trying to defend the world from…themselves. They also were both recipients of the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star earned in combat. That tells me they deserve remembering. Peace.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Corpulent Obliteration

Surfing the cyber world one morning, as I am wont to do, I came upon some revelations of an odd sort. I have recently found a particular interest in current affairs, and voraciously search all that is new and interesting. I do this on the net as it allows generous access to the hordes of influences, both altruistic and cretinous. The news media has long held both my favor and my ire. Here of late, my ire has received all too much inspiration.

This morning I decided to see what health matters the population needs to focus attention on. Imagine my rather rotund personage being confronted with the knowledge that “Obesity contributes to global warming.” At least that is what Reuters reports from a source in London, England. According to the wise folks at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine being stout of body is causing global warming.

Now, given my recent indignation over being told I was “Not a candidate” for body donation, and the ensuing emotions I encountered and wrote on, this gave me particular foundation for this morning’s tirade. I immediately went to the nearest search engine to learn of the legitimacy of these seemingly ignorant and ill advised folks attempting to, once more, tell me that I am not good enough. Fortunately I have scholarly skills which outweigh (ha!) my propensity to slash an burn at the keyboard. The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is a well-respected organization in business over one hundred years enjoying wide recognition and success in dealing with public health issues. Most of what is known about tropical diseases has come from this institution, and hundreds of thousands of people have been treated with medicines and procedures developed by this organization. The only thing I can say after realizing who they were is…thank you.

“Obesity tied to risk of psychiatric disorders” so reports the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington. Another entity seemingly engaged in a war against fat people. Not as widely recognized as the earlier entity in this page, it still appears to be legitimate in appearance and motivation. Again, all I can say to this organization is…thank you.

My real gripe is the incredibly biased attitude that obesity is wrong. Yes, I know that psychiatric disorders are a part of being obese. I seek and receive treatment for this. Yes, I know that I am at risk for a plethora of maladies directly related to my size. I have some of these and treat them with the assistance of a paid medical professional. Yes, I know that my life span will be shortened by my fatness. I am also reasonably assured that all who live (not suffer) from obesity are cognizant of these factors. How can we not? It is all over the news. It is all over the television. Weight loss is now a business receiving billions of dollars in revenue.

I do not have any memory of being small. I have no frame of reference in my family, other then my dear sister, that there is any other way to be. I have been enamored of the process of eating for 55 years (almost) and can see no change in that posture. I have been surgically altered, given medication, counseled, dieted numerous times, exercised, encouraged, berated, generally made to feel inferior all my life, and still I am fat. This is not the “poor me” ranting of a fat guy that refuses to stop eating too much. This is the plain truth. I have been discriminated in employment, in the availability of services, and the ability to travel comfortably.

Global Warming? Well, show me the environmentally conscious choice there is in automobiles for persons over one hundred pounds. Morbidly obese is what it is called. Let me enlighten the reader here…I am not unwholesome, diseased, unhealthy, sick, sickly; tainted, corrupted, or vitiated as a result of my size. I am not causing global warming. I only own one car. I am not causing harm to the Penguins, or holding a blowtorch to the polar ice caps. There is no more water in the ocean when I go swimming then before, displacement occurs and I get sand in my suit. The only thing hot about it is the temperature outside that caused the feeling in me to go swimming in the first place.

What I would really like to know is why these famous health organizations are doing about the ten million people who die each year from treatable diseases? Why is the continent of Africa in a desperate and seemingly untenable situation over the number of people with AIDS? Why is the leading public health organization in the fight against tropical diseases not looking into the issue of starvation in the tropical regions? Do they think us fat people are eating all the food, and if we were not fat the rest of the world would not be hungry? It couldn’t possibly be that the world is addicted to crude oil? The discovery, production, and marketing of petroleum crude oil is the reason, if there is a reason, that the globe is getting warmer, not my propensity to indulge in fried chicken and Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia Ice Cream.

I am done for today. This is not finished. I will be back. Right now it is time for lunch…peace.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I awoke this morning, Saturday, with an idea. I will write today if it “Hair lips the Pope.” Not a particularly compassionate view on the gift the Good Lord gave me, or my wishes for the well-being of the reincarnation of St. Peter the Apostle in our times. I reside in a southern state that prides itself on rugged individualism and a plethora of guiding principles absent of any form of social propriety. Having escaped the stigma of being a “Yankee” through the near thirty-year tenure of my habitation within the borders of that which acknowledges naught but a singular celestial body as its symbol, I find myself embracing such platitudes when I am in need of better words to express my desires. All that is left of my New Yorkedness is a fondness for real pizza, a near maniacal devotion to the only true baseball team…the NY Yankees, and a fervent yearning for financial harm to be done the Steinbrenner clan for firing Joe Torre.

Having said all that, I find myself in a dualistic state. I desperately need to write given the length of time elapsed since last I bedazzled the universe with my prose, or, at least I perceive desperateness and might just be bedazzling myself and not my target audience. I further realize the reader might be saying or thinking at this moment that this fool should get to the freaking point and stop bullshitting. And they would be right.

Well, realistically, I need to get some words down and the other part of the duality I spoke of earlier is that my computer is making a garrulous noise as I type. I recently had the audacity to open the case of my chief link to the world outside to poke around in it. Not a bad thing per se, I do have some acumen within the realm of technology, but it has given me pause to be concerned. I want to post on this blog, and I also wish to work on a piece for my web page, and this amalgamation of 1’s and 0’s needs more attention then I wish to give it this wonderful morning. Additionally, my landlord has a crew of workers outside mowing lawns, weed eating, hammering nails and generally disrupting the literary mastermind sitting at his T3414 E-Machine computer with the scratchy throat. Discretion being the better part of valor, I believe I will go attend to the needs of life as it has apparently decided to inject itself on my poor old ass. Peace out.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tirade del Amor

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Well, at least that is how Shakespeare put it. I do not really know what there is to love and whether it is feasible to find something to love in this world. I do know that as a feeling, love is the most disturbing of emotions. It has no rhyme or reason to exist in humankind, yet, it does. I read book upon book on the subject and stay in a quandary over what exactly this unsettling pursuit is supposed to be in my life.

I find it is much simpler to hate. For some raison d'être there is much more of this most negative manifestation in all we do in this world. There is war, and crime, and abuse, and prejudice, and intolerance, and disdain for all that is kind and true. How can one see the need for tenderness in the face of callous disregard for the very humanness we all share? The answer is fully plain. We live in a society programmed to do instead of feel. As an emotion, hate always drives some manner of action, and the deeds resulting are more interesting than those emerging out of benevolence and concern. Hate grows out of anger and anger grows out of indignation. And all of it grows out of fear.

As imperfect organisms, we tend to go embrace ideals familiar to us. In modern society our ideals are driven by external influence. We read a newspaper, or a magazine. We watch television. We go to the movies. We listen, read, perceive, and misinterpret, pretty much on a universal basis, that which is put before us. We have cable and satellite TV. We have hundred of channels to watch on numerous issues specifically designed to capture the attention of the viewing public. There are several levels of viewing possibilities. Local stations offer toned down language in programming to ensure a wholesome environment for our children, but only until nine or ten o'clock. Then the cable giants take over. There are horror movies, and martial arts movies, soft-core pornography, stand up comedy focusing on the vulgar and frighteningly graphic documentaries on the ills of society. We teach our children with these mediums of expression. We have MTV and reality shows displaying abrasive, abusive, pornographic, and intensely misanthropic content. There are sound bites and imagery flashed at us in millisecond blasts negating the ability for anyone to make any rationale decision as to their veracity. All we see is brought to us at the speed of light and we have little chance to discern true value.

We glorify the negative in the guise of rugged and determined individuality. We have series that glorify the life of organized criminals. We have contests where people submit to disgusting and revolting behavior in order to achieve monetary or professional gain. We teach biology to our children by allowing pornographic material school them in the process of reproduction. We glorify the deviancy of society while negating the positive.

Where is the Love Channel? Where is the Values Channel? Where is the show that teaches us that it is okay to display affection for one another? Not anywhere readily found. What we do have are afternoon talk shows parading solutions to societal ills hosted by would be, wannabe mavens of collective reform whose real intention, in my opinion, is hawking their latest help-yourself-by-buying-my-book-or-attending-a-seminar-that-costs-more-than-most-of-you-can-afford.

I could keep this tirade going if it were not for the weariness I have over the negative side of human existence. I marvel at the propensity for self-destruction we have, and question my own motives in putting these words on paper. I do so because I live in a country that, at least idyllically, allows me to speak that which bothers me, and that which enriches me. I started to investigate love, and I regressed into the easier side of the issue. I seek the feeling by searching for the action. I do not know that love is necessarily a definable action. I know with hate, there is a manifestation for the feeling, and we flaunt it regularly. I do not know if we illustrate love as well as we should. I think that we believe that we must do something with our hate, and little time in contemplation of what we will do with our love. I think the difference might be that hate, in our practice, demands engagement while love just requires sensation. Sensation occurs in humankind and does not have to be directly attributable to an outside influence. By this reasoning, the sensation of love needs no focal point and can be quite comforting. One can just love without reason and it can occur with little or no action. Hate requires a commitment to action in response to a perceived hostility or animosity toward someone or something. It entails work, and work is definitely an action. Love gives of itself, without much effort and is generous in what it gives. Hate takes all it can get its hands on, and is miserly in what it gives back. This, ostensibly, asks the question: do we seek generosity or parsimony? Generosity gets my vote.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Wisdom of the Not Necessarily Accepted Masses

“Sally forth into the unknown, I say ye. For there are twists and turns the like you can never envisage within the confines of your low mentality. We are on the very precipice of enormous happenings which will transport mankind to either the gloriousness of Paradise or the malevolent nether regions of Hades.” I turned from the rack of tabloid magazines in the Wal-Mart Supercenter on the south side of town to find the origin of such ominous tidings. Before me stood a rather slight older gentleman wearing, of all things, a suit of green with a large western belt buckle flaunting an array of green stones in the shape of a shamrock, an equally dark green beret, and a pair of those plastic shoes someone is getting rich selling to people with the holes in them and an open back, also green. On his face, he wore a pronounced Van Dyke goatee surrounded with a several day-old growth of beard. Small reading glasses hanging low on his pointed nose, apparently secured to his face by a huge growth on the left side of his face. His eyes, also green, glistened with merriment that was, at the same time, unnatural in demeanor and mischievous in deportment.

“Excuse me?” served as my only reply.

“ Now boyo, I’d be knowing yer no’ that daft. You look at those tomes and with the know ‘n in you that there is some distress in their implication.” A impish broken-toothed grin came on his face.

My first reaction, after the surprise of his appearance was, one of quiet reservation. I have spent the larger portion of my life with a unique ability to attract people of questionable sanity. I share this trait with My Dear Sainted Mother. The family mission statement as passed to us was one that taught my sister and I that we should never meet a stranger. A favorite joke around the holiday tables is the idea that Mother Dear could get stranded on a deserted south sea island and the monkeys would find the words to begin a conversation.

My particular generational evolution of this questionably enviable character asset/defect is that people of debatable sanity seem to find me wherever I go. I can be a room with a thousand other individuals, all of which are in the room for the first time and having no or limited knowledge of events, two things are going to happen; first, someone is going to ask me what is going on, and second, the one person in the crowd that is most apparently suffering from an unhealthy state of mental health will be standing next to me talking as if we had been life long bosom buddies. My reaction is always one of quiet resignation. I listen and attempt to understand what I hear. I believe all persons are important, and it is not my bailiwick to decide whose opinion holds merit. I try to be kind to those I encounter. Simply because it is the right thing to do. Another behavior gleaned from my Dear Sainted Mother.

This person seemed to have information for me, that he thought held some import. I folded my hands behind my back so as to present a welcoming attitude of supplication. He looked me up and down, and asked me quite directly, “Why haven’t you donated to Barrack Obama’s campaign?” I found myself stunned by the question. I retreated to the cliché answer of not being able to afford such a donation. He then asked me how I could justify spending three dollars on a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ten or twelve times a month when I know that as a diabetic such consumption in detrimental to my health. He continued on to chastise for such a decision when my personal beliefs are that Senator Obama holds the key to the change we need in this country.

I did not question his words as they were true. I have become consumed with this election, and the future of our country. I write often of my dissatisfaction with the state of affairs, and have not taken the most sensible step. I have not declared my position to my own satisfaction. I am officially giving my endorsement to Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States.

Not that this is a monumentally important endorsement. I do not for one second believe that my opinion is of such significance as to change the balance in this election. I just thought that if a crazy guy in Wal-Mart can hold me accountable for the rights I imagine myself to be a champion of, then it might be prudent of me to take that needed step to at least have the courage of my convictions and open my big mouth where it might reach the greatest amount of people. I don’t know how wide this page is being distributed, but it is available. More than that would be nothing but making sure I show up to vote. I am not ready to give up my Cherry Garcia. Peace.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

These days

These days I am trying to get through the end of the school year, write every day, and do something about the sunburn on my head. There is not much more to life these days. I am, these days, of a disposition to do none of the things that I find necessary for the betterment of mankind. I am not writing every day, school is not going to ever be over, and my sunburned head is my own fault. These days, I am pretty much screwed, blued, and tattooed.

My writing is haphazard at best. This disturbs me to no end. I am never going to be this generation’s answer to Stephen King, Mark Twain, or W.E.B. Griffin if I don’t get off my lazy ass and get to work. I laugh at these analogies my mind creates. I do not want to be Stephen King. I just want his money. Well, not his money per se, but a regular royalty check equal to or greater then those he receives. Unfortunately, his genre is not my type of writing. It scares the crap out of me. He is my favorite writer in that his prose comes alive in my mind as no other writers work. When I read his work, I can literally visualize the characters and monsters.

Mark Twain delights me and creates great bell laughs in me. This is something to see considering the girth of my stomach. Besides, I do not have that refined a sense of humor. I have no desire to spend the time Mr. Griffin spends in research, but I do devour his books as if they were potato chips.

I do want to get around to writing everyday, and not whine about my inability to do so. I know that the times I spend writing give me the greatest contentment and, as such, really should just shut up and write. It is not the keyboards fault that I have to live life in order to write. It is my fault if I do not share what is in me with the world. I am just getting over the thrill of my first for-pay publication. I am ready for the next step, and I want to define that step. I really would rather write what is there and worry later of what I should charge for it.

School is going just as it should. The students are alternately giving me a hard time, or cooperating totally depending on what is in their oft-times scrambled little heads. We have had some incidents that are quite disturbing and that always serve as harbingers of things not desired. One of our kids is in a particularly bad place and it has affected us all. Legal and moral issues prevent me from discussing this further, although I really want to shout over a large bull horn my rage and indignation. I do not get to do this, though…I am an adult and a professional. Man, it really sucks being me in this situation. I am, as you all know, a self deluded champion and crusader of the oppressed. I want to liken myself as the masked man riding into town of a great white horse and saving the universe from dastardly deeds performed by maniacal villains. In truth, I am just a guy that gets to hug a kid who feels bad about himself, and cry about his situation when no one is looking. Being me sucks, at this particular moment in history.

As to my sunburn. About a year and a half ago, I decided I had grown tired of combing my hair and shaved it off. I am not much of an outside person, and most of the time my head is cold. This is not an entirely unwanted state of affairs. Yesterday, I participated in my first school field trip as a teacher. We went to a rescued tiger sanctuary nearby. It never occurred to me that I needed a hat. I haven’t worn a hat for years. Not since I gave up the manual arts in employment and began my life as a great thinker, philosopher, teacher, and all around pain in the ass. Well, I walked around and had a grand old time. I ate lunch next to my young friend who is having a hard time. I shared my cookie with him, and spoke with the other students about how cool the tigers were. We all chose one who we wished we could take home. My young companion and I both wanted the largest one for ourselves. All 800 pounds of raw meat devouring, sleep-20-hours-a-day lazy ass cat. Kind of like having a houseful of teenagers. My friend said that he would have to quit school and get a job, and I realized that if I had that gargantuan feline to feed, I would probably lose the weight I complained about in an earlier post.

We left the location and went home early. I lay down to take a nap and woke up feeling terrible. My blood sugar was through the roof, and my body felt as if that big cat I favored had thrown me around in a similar fashion as the rag toy he played with while observing him in his cage. I looked in the mirror and attributed my red face to the blood sugar. I felt bad all night, and still felt that way once I got to work this morning. First thing, one of my kids told me that I was sunburned and it occurred to me that I had not had that particular malady in many years. I have a perpetually tanned left arm from when I drove a truck. The rest of my body is ghost white. I think I need to get out more, or at least buy one of those cool Alan Quartermain hats for when I venture into the jungle that is the entire world outside. Perhaps a little fresh air might do me some good. Perhaps it might prevent me from writing these depressing rants which probably serve as the chief reason I still take anti-depressant medication.

See? I told you it sucked being me right now. Not to worry…I go see my shrink tomorrow, and the next is a paid holiday. Things are looking up. Peace.