Sunday, December 13, 2009

Once more into the Breach, dear friends…

Whoa! Two days in a row I find enticement sufficient in me and a craving for the written word as I understand it. The Lord’s Day has been site and muse for much of the inanity that comes your way once I send the “Updated Blog” email. I suppose it might be a sort of opportunity to glorify my Maker, and steer clear of the banality that has become my primary means of entertainment. The shows I watch with fidelity are all on hiatus in anticipation of the birth of Our Lord, and my new DVR has not yet discovered the ambiance necessary to grasp my attentiveness in a manner consistent with my mental infirmity.

I woke this morn, for the second day in a row without the requisite level of throbbing discomfort issuing from my hip. I have had this wretchedness as a constant companion for about two years. The result of an indiscretion of my misspent youth, it has been announcing itself with regularity, here of late, in a vociferous pronouncement that in order for me to find relief, I must heed to a rather persistent and imagined call for replacement. My former practitioner of the Hippocratic arts shared that, given my girth, this drastic remedy is inevitable.

I have spent time in my life devoid of the ability to walk upright and on two legs. These periods of misery were the absolute characterization of hopelessness, despondency, and outright torture. I have an unreasonable fear of not being able to walk. It is the thing of nightmares, and I most probably aggravated my present condition by denying the need for treatment. The only concessions I have accepted is a handicap license plate, and the need to ride the electric carts provided at the retail marketplaces I trade at.

Of late, the weather has decided it would act as if it were bipolar and not taking any medication. The result is that I missed two days of work this week, and I spent most of those days, when I wasn’t simply hurting, screwing up the courage to go to the doctor. This session of distress forced the use of a cane (a recent surrendering on my part) and the realization that it would be quite possible for me to be a cripple in the near future. (I told you it was an unreasonable fear)

I ignored my hindrance and went to work. I was not exactly at the top of my game. I placed the cane in a place where all could see, in the hopes that it might prevent some sort of irritating comments. I did the best I could and cried at lunchtime due to the pain. I waited for all to be gone from the building before doing this.

My secretary/aide/daily savior and I had a discussion on an alternate form of treatment that might not be covered by insurance, and I went ahead and made an appointment. It was with a chiropractor. Eighteen years ago I engaged in this activity with disastrous result. It is particularly difficult to x-ray a person of my size, and the doctor attempted to treat me without actually knowing what damage I had done myself. The incident put me in the hospital, unable to walk, for four days. I had fallen out of bed, and could not get up. I did not have a telephone and was forced to crawl to the balcony of my apartment at the time and bellow for help. I rode to the hospital in an ambulance laying on a stiff piece of wood that aggravated my condition. I did not have insurance at the time, and the hospital wanted to turn me loose. It was only after threatening litigation that I was admitted.

I have nightmares about that episode, especially when I encounter serious bouts of agony. I do not take narcotic medication, which is the only effective pain relief, due to a dedication to preventing me from sinking back into the horror that is my life without the gift of Twelve Step recovery. This all sound rather dramatic, or so some would say, but it is real. Anyone who disputes it needs only to walk a mile in my shoes, or rather, the forty or fifty feet that I am currently restricted to without pain or assistance. No. Let the bastards try to walk a mile in my shoes and see if they don’t weep and wail. Whoa, time to turn a corner. I need not fall victim to my anger or depression this fine morning. Apologies.

Friday is a half day for my school, and my appointment loomed in front of me. I went to the cafeteria to eat lunch with my kids, and ventured off to the frightening rendezvous with destiny

Upon arrival, I remember thinking that it would be better if the man doctor saw me instead of the woman. It was a woman doctor who threatened my existence with surgical inevitability, and my dread began to grow when told I would be seen by “Dr. Shirley.” By the grace of the God of my understanding I found my large chauvinist derriere pleasantly rebuked. The nice lady who took my information graciously took hold of my hand and told me that it would be okay. I don’t know if she could sense my fear or not, all I know is that she treated me with a kindness I am not used to.
The doctor entered with a smile and earnestness which I found surprising. In person I am, due to my size and an almost constant frown attributed to my pain level, an intimidating person. She examined me and told me exactly what it was that hurt on my body. She assured me that it would be okay. I needed to be x-rayed and return Monday. I clarified my concerns and she quietly soothed my trepidation with reassuring words.

Her aide was also the Radiology tech who worked particularly hard to get the x-rays needed. It, as I expected, proved mostly useless. She, however, did not give up, even when I began to ask question that might be construed as doubting her abilities. I have had problems with x-ray techs not listening to me and producing unusable films. I desperately did not want to be argumentative with this sweet lady. I began to cry in the x-ray room. I tried to conceal this, and probably failed. I found myself despondent and despairing of any relief. I have been in this condition before and found it completely demoralizing. The tech softened her voice and placed her hand on my cheek, “don’t worry, we are going to help you today. You’ll feel like a million bucks when you leave here.”

The doctor came in and she, once more, comported herself with kindness and reassurance. She told me that I would have to be x-rayed on Monday by another tech that had vastly more experience and might possibly get a better view. The film already taken did reveal that she would be able to help me. They gave me a treatment of vibration and sent me on my way.

Standing up from the treatment, I found that the cane was no longer necessary.

I do not impress easily, and this stunned me. I left the office and drove away in a semi-stupor. I drove without destination. I found myself in a wholesale club riding the electric cart with no reason to even be there. I found some things to buy, and I looked at some things that I will never be able to afford (a sixty inch high def television to hook up and watch banal television shows that cost a sum equal to what I pay for rent for an entire year.) I paid for my purchases and rode by the concession stand only to discover that they served Nathan’s Hot Dogs. These are famous in my state of origin, New York, as being the best in the world. I categorically agree. I sat there consuming said ambrosia and wondered at the pleasantry this world can offer one. I went into the belly of the beast, and came out relieved and reassured. I found life to be better.

Leaving the place of banal dreams I noticed a kid I know. He is the eldest son of some dear friends of mine. He is a gentle, loving soul who is not bound by convention where it comes to his emotions. I called his name, “Jason!” He turned and looked at me, and immediately stopped what he was doing (helping a customer) and gave me a hug. I remember sitting in a hospital room where his father laid in distress and this kid informing me that “Real Men Hug!” It would not be an exaggeration to say that this child gave me exactly what I wanted for Christmas. As did the wonderful ladies I sought relief from. Certainly it helps that my pain has nearly abated, but to find ones true desire is a great and vast gift. I can feel sorry for myself in this world, and people will still treat me with love and dignity, regardless of my manner. I can still believe in the things I write of. But most of all, I find that even if my dread would come true, I will find the same as I did in my distress and relief this day. Love and dignity from my fellow man or woman.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Icon Et Al

I sat today and wondered what it was that seemed to be missing in my life. I thought to write about an experience at a health care facility. Then I came up with a freaking really cool idea for a book. I needed to do some research about St. Joseph (purely out of literary curiosity). I wanted to avoid the television but found it irritatingly difficult to leave the remote alone. It was time for the imbibing of medication which must be ingested in concert with victual stimulation, and as anyone who knows me can attest to, said activity is a two handed operation for this rotund reporter of the written word.

In consideration of the sacred journey I have embarked on in the last synodic temporal length, I elected to view a program where famous comedian speculated (for 2 hours and 15 minutes) on the existence, or nonexistence of God.

This did nothing to stimulate the artistic salivating gland that resides within me. What it did was piss me off. I tried to launch into a diatribe on the mathematical and scientific proof of the being I find comfort and guidance from. Words escaped me. Frustrated and betrayed by my capacity to inscribe the page, and World Wide Web with both wit and wisdom, I fewlt a sentiment similar to Déjà vu. I wrote on this, I thought. I racked my brain, and went to one of the other locations I inhabit in Cyberspace. There it was! Exactly the emotion I wanted to articulate. Why reinvent the proverbial wheel? So…here is what I have to say about that…

... If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him." [Voltaire] I look at this quote and remember the first time I read it. In a philosophy class where the topic du jour happened to be the reality, or nihility of a Supernatural being who is responsible for the conception, design, and fabrication of that which we call life. A pretty good course taught by a Harley riding professor who wore cowboy boots and in all probability imbibed at least one, if not several, products in the extended family of mind-altering, mood-changing substances known to mankind. Not, in and of itself, a pertinent piece of information…after all, it seems to be a required skill-set those who teach philosophy. I mean, how else can one talk in circles and not be high?

Anyhoo, (Yes I meant to spell it that way) we were engaged in what turned out to be a rather heated debate on one particular theorist’s method for achieving the ambiguity all who liken themselves as knowledgeable in such matters strive to accomplish. This speculative sage is a Roman Catholic Saint by the proper name of Anselm. He held the rather lofty position of Archbishop of Canterbury prior to Henry VIII declaring that divorce was not only permissible, but required if one were to birth a male heir. Being a conscientious high ranking cleric, he felt it germane to defend his faith in a book entitled “Proslogion.” At the time (circa 1077) there were still some poor deluded souls who worshipped the earth and maintained a commanding and compelling mystic embrace on the common folk. Hence…the call to duty.
His book was required reading in my class, and everyone read the thing and came out of it with two distinct feelings. First, we wondered, “What the hell is he talking about?” Secondly, and perhaps the more profound item, most of the class stopped believing in God.

The class demographics consisted of mostly psychology majors with some future Captains of Industry seeking to become CPA’s…and me, the “Voc Ed dude.” (An ironic designation given that I am now a teacher of children. Back then all I wanted was a million bucks for my first novel.) The discourse centered on a particular section of the insightful tome. The Five Proof’s:

1. One can imagine a being than which none greater can be conceived.

2. We know that existence in reality is greater than existence in the mind alone.

3. If the being we imagine exists only in our mind, then it is not a "being than which none greater can be conceived".

4. A being than which none greater can be conceived must also exist in reality. Failure to exist in reality would be failure to be a being than which none greater can be conceived.

5. Thus a being than which none greater can be conceived must exist, and we call this being God.

Now, the verbiage does not exactly lend itself to uncomplicated comprehension. I mean this whole “being of which there can be none greater” begins the process of perplexity, and the existing in reality stuff makes one think, no, doubt readily preconceived notions on the state of humanity. (Help! I’m falling in!) The discussion proved reasonably heated and quite amusing. I sat in silence (an unnatural state for me) while the class proceeded to quarrel about how the proof’s actually disproved the existence of a “being of which there can be none greater.” The amusement came from a room full of card carrying, dyed-in-the-wool Baptist’s. There I sat watching people who would condemn me if they knew my read on God, demanding that I not believe in “being of which there can be none greater”

I took the class in the first place because I had a choice between Philosophy and Psychology and didn’t like the Professor in the psychology course that fit my schedule. He began the “Voc-ED” junk when he told me that I probably could not grasp the complexity of the subject being, you know, just a “shop” teacher. I asked him what happened to him when he was a kid to make him the way he was today. After narrowly escaping his office when he erupted like Mount St. Helens, I fled to my Harley riding-dope smoking-Philosophy Dude. None the worse for wear.

That experience, the “shop teacher” rubbish, and the vehemence of a group of devoted Southern Baptist’s demanding that God did not exist has elicited much thought in the intervening years. Exactly what or who is God. I had reason to rethink this recently when one of my kids’s asked me if I were a Christian. “Yes” I proclaimed and thought I had sounded quite convincing. That is, until he asked me what church I went to. The quandary this Loving Child of the same God I believe in presented me with is that, in his world, my pseudo-psycho-socially appropriately intelligent philosophy towards organized religion, mattered little. You claim to be a Christian…you go to church. I escaped the predicament by reclaiming my Roman Catholic roots. Not exactly a lie. When I do go to church I tend to favor the church of my childhood. Maybe it’s the whole guilt/confession thing. But I digress.

What the experience did for me was to reassert that I do, in fact, believe in God and most certainly reject the notion that there is any “proof” necessary. The motivation behind this piece came from a conversation with my last girlfriend (who has since fled the embrace/wisdom of the “Voc-ED dude”) and the ideal that God does need to be proven if not but to bring his glory to those poor demented dupe’s who negate His/Her existence. I believe I won that debate, evidence being the absence of said girlfriend from my embrace/wisdom. Being somewhat unsettled at the disillusion of the ninth relationship this year, I sat to investigate what could be done to reengage some interest in the reestablishment of the embrace/wisdom activities caused by my supercilious ridiculousness. (She kind of likes it when I use big words)

My first effort in rectifying my predicament sent me in search of a simpler way to explain the words of St. Anselm. Here they are:
1. God is that entity than which nothing can be greater.
2. The concept of God exists in human understanding.
3. God exists in one's mind but not in reality.
4. The concept of God's existence is understood in one's mind.
5. If God existed in reality, it would be a greater thing than God's existence in the mind.
6. The final step to God's existence is that God in reality must exist.

All this did was add a step to the process of enlightenment. I mean…what the hell is it with reality and existence anyway? I remember an old 1960/1970’s movie called “Freakout” where Jack Nicholson plays a hippie about to die and his last words being “Reality is a crashing bore!” Profundity at it’s best.

I searched for more in that wondrous universe that is Google and found and a page entitled “Hundreds of Proofs of God’s Existence.” From hence came the removal of confusion, and yet another step on the road to enlightenment. I read many of the differing proof’s and have chosen three if, in my opinion, followed will undeniably prove the existence of “a being than which none greater.” The first is a mathematical perspective;

(1) Millions and millions of people believe in God.
(2) They can't all be wrong, can they?
(3) Therefore, God exists.”

Next came from a phone call reassuring me that not only am I not going to reinvigorate the embrace/wisdom activities I started this piece over;

(1) God exists.
(2) I don't give a crap whether you believe it or not; I have better things to do than to try to convince you morons.
(3) Therefore, God exists.”
The next falls under the “Out of the mouth’s of babes” lexicon;

(1) God is awesome!
(2) Like, totally, dude!
(3) Therefore, God, like, exists and stuff.”
An my personal favorite;

(1) Because.
(2) Therefore, God exists.”

I will report that my path to the God of my understanding comes from the simplicity of the Twelve Step program I am a fervently devoted member of. When I entered into communion (“interchange or sharing of thoughts or emotions; intimate communication” - with the saving grace in my life, my belief in the possibility of a being than which none greater existing had been severely put to the test in the quagmire of getting and staying clean. The simple direction from members of my cabal has given me many gifts which, I have come to believe derive from a being than which none greater exists. I have people to love. I have a rewarding job which I love. I have something to do with my ailing spirit…when it is ailing. More importantly I have the ability to share my feelings with others, some of my kind and some who are not. Well perhaps I needed to write this in order to realize that the being than which none greater exists wanted me to, if only to rediscover the beauty, splendor, magnificence, and irony that is life. I love you God!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Today is a Good Day to…

Lock myself in my apartment and exclude my very existence from the rest of the creatures that people this wonderful orb that is the proprietor of our tenancy. Being the day after that hallowed time where my fellow Americans display an equal amount of gratitude and gluttony, I find myself not so appreciative. I awoke to the sound of a rock band I do not particularly favor, and the telephone growling. I had lined up some extra labor and the ogre on the other end of the line informed me that he could not pay my agreed wage, and that I should keep my substantial derriere at the house. Remuneration I felt necessary if I am to enjoy the birth of the God of my understanding.

I shut down the cacophonatious contrivance entreating me to proclaim myself a purveyor of copious amounts of sex, drugs, and Rock n’ Roll. It is a poor state I find myself where it comes to issuing edicts associated with the music I so favor. Sex is a burdensome endeavor given my advancing age. The drugs are mostly those for which I ingest to perform the first part of this triad of bliss, and my CD player ate my favorite sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll collection last night on my way back from the Great Day of Thanks. Said confluence of events and vexations has left me quite irritated this beautiful morn.

One week ago today I exchanged my chief method of perambulation for a new-fangled device in which to pass through this cluttered journey we call life. It is a means of transportation that I had been salivating over for the better part of a passing moon. My previous coupe had begun to make signs of wishing retirement and the purveyor of automobiles where I trade offered to let me obtain my neophyte means of transportation with not much bother. Here I am now, driving my almost dream medium in the search of distance and utility. Almost in that it is of a pre-owned demeanor. My dream is for one of original-in-the-same-year-I-am-living manufacture.

I began this quest by taking steps toward this goal once I realized the gift of being initiated into the world of academia as a reader of letters to the wonderful waifs at my institution of erudition. I noticed that everyone was driving new cars and, not wanting to be left out, grew a desire for the same. The first step was to procure a conduit for conveyance that had been created-in-the-same-decade-that-I-was-living. I accomplished that with my recently retired quadrupedal device containing rubber tires in the place of feet.

The current chariot is a step closer to my goal, and it is a respectable step. However, there are always issues when one procures a pre-owned delivery device. I have spent the last week dealing with these minor annoyances, and today is one more stage in that quest for perfection. I had to take it to the dealer for a lighting problem and to rescue my CD from the jaws of a demonic device that will cost me to replace due to it not being worthy repair. I have been given a “loaner” which I believe existed in a former life as a Matchbox car, and devoid of liquid required by the engine to be in motion.

Right now I must discontinue my musings to watch Jeopardy. I don’t think I’ve used enough big words today and need to recharge…

Well, Jeopardy failed to appear this morning, and in its stead was a football game where two college teams lay siege to each other as a part of the crusade that is the BCS National Championship. I am not a viewer of sports of this type (or any other with the exception of the current World Champion Major League Baseball team) but did not find umbrage with this. I live in Texas and feel no need to comment or receive the vilification I would if I were to disparage the purveyance of the pigskin.

It is several hours later and, after lunch, two rerun episodes of “Criminal Minds, a nap, a time spent reading of St. John the Apostle, and a hot shower, return to this diatribe. My Steed is still in the care of the practitioner of automotive audio and visual wonderment mentioned earlier. I am still irritated over this, and I am further aggravated at the failure of this piece to elicit any relief from the unknown malady I am enduring. My purpose today was to wash away the exasperation I felt over the vehicular realities of the day by writing about my boyfriend-in-law, Captain Domesticado. He is probably not aware of it, but he performed a massive service to me on the occasion of giving thanks for eating too much turkey and dressing. No, it is not that he purchased the food I thoroughly found irresistible enough to drive eight hours to imbibe. He tended my soul. I am grateful. But that is for another piece that will not founded in irritation and abhorrence.


Saturday, November 14, 2009


I walked into my classroom this morning and get about the business of the day. Health issues have kept me home for two days, and I am in a quandary to remember what I am doing. I look around and see what kind of mess has been made of my diminutive dominion. Normally, papers are scattered about, my chair is sitting on the other side of the room, and the trash can has been positioned latitudinally and longitudinally absent of scope, and utilitarian function. Not being disappointed in my expectation, I also discover the secretary’s chair is sitting under my desk. This accommodating piece of office furniture is significantly inferior and less substantial than the seat of authority (HA!) I normally position my egotistically asinine distinctiveness. In other words, my big ‘ol butt won’t fit in it.

I sail it out to the area in front of my faithful aide’s (and really sweet and smart lady) desk. I roll my throne back to its rightful place and gently seat myself. I sit gently due to the broken wheel that first came into disrepair as a result of abuse from, sadly, my big ‘ol butt.

I set about the morning ritual. Turn on the computer, get out the banana I usually eat for breakfast, and wait for one of my colleagues to enter my realm and share some wisdom with me about her students, or ask me for assistance with the online grade book we use. This morning she simply smiled at me, handed me a gathering of papers that I hoped was not her resignation, and walked away. I am particularly grateful for this lady. She teaches the elementary kids, and I do not know if I am capable of teaching those grades. The man I work for seems to think I can teach anything and has displayed this conviction by transferring me wherever he needs someone to teach without complaint. I have never told him about this blog, and do not intend to. Some things are better left to ignorance. Additionally, he really does not need to know the extent to which I am capable of whining and foot stomping.
I drop it on my keyboard, peeled my banana, and set about perusing the papers, only to discover that the first page had a decidedly nonacademic deportment to it. It was a certificate for “Outstand Achievement in Community Service.” Underneath lay a coloring book that she had her class put together. The theme of this book was the extolling of the fact that, during a portion of my misspent youth…I had the great honor and privilege to serve my country as a soldier in the United States Army. On the last page was the signature of all the students and staff of my campus. All I could do was weep. As I write, all I can do is weep. In the thirty four years, seven months, and ten days since I was released from duty no one has ever thanked me for being a soldier.

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from President Barack Obama thanking me for my service. In that same thirty four years, seven months, and ten days no politician has ever made me feel grateful for the opportunity to serve the United States of America…until yesterday.

Think what you may. Feel what you want. Say what you please. This is the greatest country in all of time. God Bless America

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Do Not Go Gentle????

Dylan Thomas be damned, I feel like crap. I am home from work today feeling unwell due to my blood sugar coming to a decision that it would act in an unmanageable fashion. I have written of my issue with the advancement of age, and the irritating assortment of ailments that has near bested the quietude I pursue and fervently desire to realize in the fullness of time which is my life. I do not like getting old.

As chronicled previously, I sought advice from the realm of Hippocrates a few years ago with disquieting result. The healer at the time informed me of a variety of afflictions that have power in my life. One being diabetes mellitus which holds innumerable ways and means with which to curtail, impede, and otherwise piss me off as I circumnavigate that which we call life. I treat this malady with medication that, for the most part, is sufficient to beat back the beast. As a disease it is most insidious in that it can and will control your life. I have to transport two types of medication wherever I go in contemplation of eating meals. Given my girth, and acute sense of taste, I eat out socially quite often, and must maintain my health.

The problematic part of carrying medication comes in the amount and variety of pills that I must take. I would offer this forewarning to those reaching the age equal to one half century that if you go to the doctor, said oath taker (Hippocrates, remember?) will most definitely send you packing with a prescription for some sort of remedy guaranteed to bring back the ecstasy and angst of earlier time. I have seven such panacea’s in my catholiconian war chest.

A few mornings ago, I found it necessary to restock the portable container I keep with me at all times, and replenished it with the wrong pills. I went about my business of educating the poor waif’s of society and thought all to be splendid and pleasing. As I went about the business of plying my trade, I noticed that something seemed…well…off. Helping students with grammar exercise proved futile in that I had apparently forgotten the difference between a noun, proper or common and a pronoun. The distinction concerning simple predicates and complex predicates proved a mystery. It proved frustrating with the result, in the end, of searching for the end of the period, and lunch/conference period.

Waking this morn with a ravaging hoard of Visigoths in my cranium, I discovered that my blood sugar was three times what it should be, and that I must see to this predicament.

I lay in bed until it proved tortuous, I wandered about the house aimlessly (well not very much wandering given the size of my apartment), I sough relief in Jeopardy to no avail (teen tournament and I lost miserably), a call to my sweet Deifiúr, and finally to the keyboard. If I could find no respite from my own idiocy (filling the bottle with the wrong pills) I could at least not have to endure this malevolence unaccompanied, hence the email reminding you that I have once more made an entry into your life through this blog.

I, ostensibly, have found words again as useful tools in the healing of the soul. I have shared my wonder with humankind, and my blood sugar has reduced to a manageable level. I feel competency returning, and a reinvigoration over the next hill in this journey. Then again, it’s only 2:30 PM and there is a pork chop and gravy banquet looming in the next few hours. Hopefully, with the proper medication, and a little more effective attention to what I take prior to this feast, I will return to the fiefdom of academia upon the rising of the Sun.


P.S. Now I do not need, nor will accept portentous dialogue informing of the fact that I may be killing myself so, please refrain from issuing redundancies which I have already suffered from the Realm of Hippocrates. I love you too.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Remonstration and Protestation

I woke this morning with the intention of reproducing a piece I began Thursday about the NY Yankees winning, again, the World Series. I worked on it during my lunch period and felt relatively virtuous in the words I chose to regale the world with my fanaticism over this sports franchise. The first obstacle came when I attempted to carry it over into my conference period. I am required to work on class material during this time slot, but taking into consideration that I had accomplished everything I could in this academic area of interest, I thought to spend the time enthralling the community on the World Wide Web with my proficiency at the written word. It did not work as a student came in and wanted to know why he was failing my stupid class.

I then saved the essay to a flash drive and thought to spend my Saturday morning finishing this piece of written wit. Once more the cosmos prevented this from happening due to a computer glitch. By glitch, I mean that my home computer did not allow me to open the file and saw fit to only allow me to cruise Facebook, and write on the current novel I am sure will gain me the fame and fortune I deserve (?) or think I deserve.

My next attempt occurred about an hour ago when I hit the proverbial third strike. I received yet another e-mail commanding me to view pictures of our troops in the Middle East, and pass them on. This particular set of images were of a positive demeanor showing the kindness and affection U.S. Service people have towards the children in the land where they are fighting. I thought to simply view them and go on about my day. Until, that is, the last image. This picture portrayed a soldier hugging an injured or dead child to his chest. This hero stood in obvious emotional distress. The last thing I wished to do this glorious morning was weep for any reason, let alone the devastation of the war plaguing my serenity on a beautiful morning.

I did not get irate or disconcerted. I did not curse the screen or the person that sent it to me. I just cried. After the tears subsided to a manageable level, I decided to take action. This piece is certainly the culmination of that action, but not all. The overwhelming message in the images glaringly spoke of the men and women fighting for our rights and privileges as citizens of the United States. I am not exactly sure how their actions are connected to my rights given the nonsense that is, in general, all wars. I have not had to defend my apartment from invaders…ever. I have not personally experienced violence directed at me by a foreign adversary from the Middle East. The sum of my knowledge comes from the handshakes I receive when I thank a soldier for his service to our country. I have a colleague at work that fought over there. He never speaks of his experience and often plays down his role as minor when engaged in conversation. He sometimes wears one of his fatigue jackets to work, and the patches on that jacket speak to a much deeper involvement then this gentleman will admit to. He is most definitely a hero, and I am blessed to know him.

The quietness of my colleague and his peers who allow me the honor of shaking their hands tells me that my rights are well protected…even the right to protest this war. There are a group of men in my home town who I have written of in a prior post. They stand on the courthouse square and wave banners protesting for peace and requesting travelers to honk to bring home the troops. I honk, and have stood for a time on that corner. Nobody has ever complained about my feeling about this war. Nobody has tried to stop those brave men out on the corner from exercising their right to free speech. And nobody will as long as I ingest oxygen without a loud reply to any such nonsense.

I took action this morning by writing this piece. However, before I did set to the composition you read here, I e-mailed the President to ask for the return of the troops. I sent the link to this site, not to promote my own hopeful agenda, but so that if by some miracle he gets to read this, he will know that our troops are in fact protecting my rights and privileges as a United States citizen. God Bless America!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mudslinging Vaqueros

Time, once more, to write. I have been absent the World Wide Web for much too long. I have found myself immersed in domain of academia with a new challenge in the noble fracas of attempting to “stomp out ignorance” as one of my colleagues states. I am now a quasi administrator as well as a teacher. “Lead Teacher” is my title, with additional remuneration and many more headaches. I also teach English and as a part of my lessons, I have the students build a “word wall.” Simply this is a list on the dry erase board in the classroom where they may place words whose definitions elude them. I discovered the title for this piece from that wall. The inspiration for the following critique is below in the content. The name came from a student’s inability to maintain proper columns and order on this “wall.” They seem to flow as a title and it has proven a literary preparation of some effort to yield the boon of wisdom you shall henceforth experience

Additionally, I have the honor and privilege of teaching Social Studies, which is, the answer to my educational and professional yearnings and prayers. One component of being a teacher of times gone by is the obligation to speak of events of a more contemporary nature. I get to spend time each day cruising cyberspace for topics of interest and lecture on momentous occasions and literally as they occur. I get to speak of the horror of the 911 tragedy, the passing of an iconic politician, the war(s) we are engaged in, of course, Barack Obama.

There is much silage connected to this man, as well as a disproportionate amount of venom. Given my left-sided predisposition, I am the recipient of many comments of a Republican nature from those I hold dear as friends who are diametrically opposed the reality of a black man being president. The expression “Many” is conceivably not the best describer. Perhaps the word inundated would best portray that full frontal assault on my deportment and political creed. Who knows?

A few weeks ago I received one of those “pass it on to support our troops” emails with a particularly noxious comment on our current serving President, and a charge that if I did not pass it on, said inaction would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was, indeed, a traitor. I took umbrage to this affront and first, passed the message on sans the ugly terminology, and secondly issued a stern warning and reminder that one did not have to be ignorant or Republican in order to be patriotic. Reference my Honorable Discharge fro the United States Army for the source of my righteous anger.

I have not received any disparaging remarks since, with the exception of a brother in recovery of mine who I love in spite of his politics as does he with mine. I love you Scrappy.

Thinking that the onslaught of ignorance had abated for a while, I quietly went back to passing on prayers and good feelings as I am wont to do most of the time. The euphoria lasted but a short instance in the larger scheme of things. The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to give our President this year’s Peace Prize.

26,600,000 references to this seemingly honor/debacle on my research-engine-of-choice later, I find myself with finger to keyboard. I originally started this piece when the “pas-it-on-or-be-a-commie-terrorist-coward-and-traitor” e-mail arrived in my inbox. My intention proved unachievable in that I allowed myself to dive headfirst into research and opinions which would prove me to be the valiant righter-of-all-Republican-wrongs. I ceased this endeavor once I realized that not only was I performing the same outrage as my opponents, I was preparing to engage in a battle of wits with a legion of unarmed opponents.

I have made it fundamentally clear that I am a true believer in the Purveyor of Change who is the Commander in Chief of my nation’s armed forces. I make no apologies for this belief and would further reference the righteous words of the creator of our Declaration of Independence, and the congregation of the baffled who spent over a decade to cause the manufacture of the Constitution of the United States.

I do, however or unfortunately, must report some of my findings. The State University system of my home state instructed me well in the art of the hunt where it applies to the written word, and I probably need to honor that. Since it inception 108 years ago, 17% of those years yielded no winners. 18% went to organizations, 68% went to men and 8% to women. Math does not add up? Well, and this mathematically challenged social studies teacher would remind readers of the joke about lies: there are three kinds of lies…lies, good lies, and statistics.

Notable nominees include Joseph Stalin. Adolph Hitler, Tsar Nikolai II of Russia, , Benito Mussolini, Juan Peron, and Yassar Arafat. The most outstanding loser…Mahatma Gandhi.

I tried to separate out those who had, in fact, negotiated some form of peace from those whose awards were more ceremonial due in fact to the goals they wished to accomplish (like Obama). Well, to be honest, I gave up because I found the complexity of all this mathematical folderol to be in conflict with my desire to refrain from laying waste to the swarm of politically naïve, alarmingly copious numbers of unarmed opponents, and the fact that the research had become a monumental pain in the ass.

So they gave a prize to someone that many think is undeserving. Whoop-de-freaking-do. Ten individual recipients and probably just as many organizational recipients have been involved with the Middle East Peace Process over the years and look where that’s got us. Nearly 200,000 troops deployed in the region with no end in sight. Contrary to his wishes Obama has had to send more troops there, hoping to prevent the BRAVE AND HONORABLE soldiers there from getting their asses shot off. I wonder how many of my unarmed brethren could or would get off their large mouthed-remote wielding-comfortable couch/chair diplomatic duffs and actually be able to get anything done in the middle east…or even be able to find it without the help of a GPS and a tour guide consisting of Navy SEALS or US Army Rangers or Green Beret’s.

But I digress. Yet still an affliction I seem incapable of treating or curing. I have no wish to denigrate those who disagree with my ideology, even if it is entertaining and provocative. I just wish these Patriots would leave it all alone. Jimmy Carter made claim that opposition to Obama was racially based. I agree with him. A Nobel recipient himself who, in past years, was revered for his commitment to peace and humanity has become the butt of much criticism for his beliefs about the Middle East. So, let me guess, you’re alright until you disagree with the Republican Party? Let me be disagreeable in the face of unfounded criticism, institutional ignorance, and unarmed aggression in the battle of wits the world/media seems to take pleasure in waging.

So who should have won? Here’s a blurb from one of the 26,600,000 references on the web about the Nobel Peace Prize…

“During the 31 years leading up to the first atomic bomb, the world without nuclear weapons engaged in two global wars resulting in the deaths of an estimated 78 million to 95 million people, uniformed and civilian…As bad as they are, nukes have been instrumental in reversing the long, seemingly inexorable trend in modernity toward deadlier and deadlier conflicts. If the Nobel committee wants someday to honor the force that has done the most over the past 60 years to end industrial-scale war, they will award a peace prize to the bomb.”

Food for thought.

Peace. Yea I really mean it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Yasgur’s Legions

Once upon a time in a land far away lived a simple farmer named Max. He went to town one day, probably to the feed store, or maybe to drink a cup of coffee with his farming cronies, and inexplicably changed all reality as we know (knew?) it. The entire cosmos, for all time, took a gigantonormous step to the left.

What happened that fated afternoon, you ask? Well, some guys found Max and talked him into renting his pasture for the weekend. They razzled him and dazzled him into leasing his homestead for a reported $50.00. They told him that they wanted to produce what they called, “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music” for about 5000 people. Being a reasonable man, who knew well the value of $50.00 in cash, he agreed and became a major part of the conception, gestation, and parturition of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair.

I was there.

This is not a bit of information that, at the time, I readily shared with my family. My sweet Deirfiúr might find this surprising, but time is, after all, the great equalizer. What happened 40 years ago matters little in the present.

I went with an older cousin. I’m not sure I remember how we pulled it off, but somehow we hoodwinked the old folks into the ideal that they really did not need to pay attention to us for about twelve days. Being an “old folk” at the time of this reading, I truly wish I could say I remember how we accomplished this daring feat. It would make for a hell of a yarn that might end up in some anthology. Like maybe “Chicken Soup for the Survivors of the 1960’s,” or “The Adventures of a Modern Day Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.” Who knows?

What we discovered was that for $50.00, our friend Max got screwed. Now I am sure that old Max received much more then the paltry amount of legend, and the “Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music” turned into a whole bunch of folks. 500,000 is number that has been bandied about. Some said it was a city of its own. Births and deaths, clothes and nudity, music and screaming, laughter and tears, and many others memorable events occurred. Again, I wish I could remember it, or, at least part of it. I remember a girl named Star whose virtue I despoiled (with her permission…well, actually at her insistence). I remember some guy selling me some “purple microdot” acid that did nothing to me but turn my tongue purple. Not an entirely disastrous situation in that it was the color of my tongue that attracted the aforementioned lady with the cosmic nomenclature. I remember the music. I remember Jimi Hendrix and the flaming guitar. I liked watching Keith Moon destroy his drums. I remember falling in love with my celestial female cohort to the sounds of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. I remember when the UAW/MF Family, a self proclaimed "street gang with analysis" tore the fence down and it became a free concert. I paid to get in, and kept the ticket stub for a number of years after in order to prove I had been there. My Dear Sainted Mother threw it away in a cleaning frenzy while I was in the army. I remember that no body was mad that weekend.

In the ensuing years I have lived a pretty full life. I did, unfortunately, eschew the chief message of the event, and lived a life speckled with greed and violence. Somewhere along the way, I have come back to the ideology of that epoch occasion. Love is definitely the answer, peace is how things are supposed to be, music certainly has sounds to sooth the savage beast within, and, this morning I woke up in love. Not the kind that is heralded in a famous Country & Western song, but the honest and earnest type of love that radiates and is proclaimed in much of the world’s poetry and prose. It is the type of love where it is not an “issue” that prevents one from expressing it in public. Not the type that has anything to do with the libido. (And no, my libido has not gone the way of the aged and infirmed!)

I had a dream last night of a woman I know, who I have not seen in quite some time. She is a particularly sweet person who has a great beauty about her and who I have known for well over a decade. There did not seem to be any motivation for the dream. No reminder in the last few days that I have not been in her gracious company for an unreasonable amount of time. I suppose it came as just a subtle reminder that, in the hustle and bustle of life I, quite simply, miss her.

It came as a blessing. I prefer my dreams to come that way. It is as if God is speaking to me in a powerful manner. “You love this person and you need to remember that!” I find myself in that place where my emotions have matured to a point of comfort. I have come to terms with the world as it is, and believe that to act in a loving and caring manner is not the chore it once was. I still rail against the evil in this world, and still wish that justice will find its way. I do not suffer from the illusion that I am some sort of harbinger of the message of peace and love. I am too old to jump onto a soapbox to proclaim my dogma as it relates to the method the world should its conduct business. In the first place, I am physically too large and old a person to jump at all. The Lord, I believe, made me corpulent in order to impress on me the actuality that I should maintain a firm grip on the ground.

So it comes back to my original treatise. The remembrance and approbation of the effect the Woodstock Music & Art Fair had and has on both this world and this humble scribe. It has made me a better person and a better occupant of the world. It created in me a sense of what the world needs us to be. It let these feelings gestate to a point where I have become mature enough to express my emotions appropriately. Not as directed by some ideology, religion, philosophy, canon, tenet, dogma, or Country & Western song. It comes, rather, as positive guidance directed to me from the God of my understanding. I love you SJM.


Monday, August 3, 2009

The Testudines Entanglement

A kid walks into the class after being absent for a day and quietly sits down at a computer to get to work. I ask him, after greeting him with a wary good morning, why he had been absent. The reason he gave me for his truancy was that he had to go to the doctor. An oft used reason for absenteeism, I originally nodded my head and told him to get to work. It is Summer School, and I have been sent to one of our satellite campuses to work. Naturally, I am the teacher of record and, in addition, I have been left with ancillary duties as administrator, truancy officer, school counselor, diagnostician, bathroom monitor, and all around guy that gets in trouble if things go wrong.
This particular young gentleman is familiar to me as he had been my student when I taught full time on this campus. He is a tall gangly child who likes to make it look as if he is busy while actually drifting off into his own little world of video games, strange music, and God only knows what. He is exceptionally gracious in his behavior and, to date, I have never heard a cross or vulgar word come out of his mouth. He volunteered for summer school in order to bring his grades up so that he might be able to attend public school in the fall. It can easily be said that he is a pleasure to have in my class. Additionally he is, most definitely a boy.
I have the honor and privilege to work at a school attached to a boy’s ranch. There are a myriad of “boy” things to be done. Chief among these activities is the time honored tradition of fishing. My young friend is an aficionado of this particular genre of leisure. In the past he has many times regaled me with his feats of daring do where it come to the use and abuse of angling equipment and ability. I sit and listen, as is my contractual obligation as teacher and, hopefully, mentor.
This is not generally a subject in which I hold even a miniscule amount of knowledge in. I am the exception to the axiom of giving a man a fishing pole and you can feed him forever. Left to my own devices with a fishing pole in my hand, I will end up looking like one of those Third World individuals the United Nations advertises for assistance in relieving their hunge,r barrenness, and misery. I have personally caught about three fish in my entire life, one of which was an 18 pound Carp which I rode around in the trunk of my car to parade before my friends. It was summertime and I could never get the smell out of that car for the entire time I owned that particular fossil fueled form of conveyance. Fried catfish at the place out on the highway leading to the Interstate and seafood wherever I can find it is the extent of my angling adeptness.
Given my lack of acumen in the world aquatic, I found myself reasonably astonished when I looked at my young friend experiencing difficulty maneuvering his way across a computer screen with just four of his fingers on the mouse. On his thumb he wore a bandage that appeared to be four or five inches in length and width. I promptly inquired as to what happened. “I got bit by a turtle.” As further evidence of my staggering ignorance in this maritime pursuit, I asked, “What were you doing with a turtle?”
“Catching it.”
“I don’t know. ‘Cause.”
“Is this why you had to go to the doctor?”
“Yea, but it was the hospital.”
“Was it really that bad?”
“Well, I was burned too.”
“How did you get burnt?”
“That’s the only way we could get the turtle off my finger.”
“How long was it on your hand?”
“An hour.”
I thought to continue this query but realized the futility of my investigation given my personal level of ignorance. There is no explanation that would suffice to educate me to a level of satisfactory comprehension. I looked at the bandage and reached a slight yet inconsequential epiphany…boys do dumb shit.
I know this because I remember (vaguely) being a boy and doing dim-witted feats of absurdity. I remember attempting to use a picnic table as a tight rope in order to test whether or not I had got my super power of flying. An important person in my life told me that I would become Superman upon reaching to age where puberty exhibited itself. I thoroughly believed this good natured deception, so I did not get too upset at the illogicality of my broken arm.
My young friend believed that catching a turtle was a noble pursuit. Until, that is, he had to use torture to rescue himself from an untenable and painful situation. I had to believe that my concern and questioning were noble pursuits, until I realized that my real duty was to simply accept the absurdity of a reality and just let the kid struggle with the mouse. I do not truly know why I ask question I really do not want the answer to. I guess the answer just might be so simple it smacks me in the face. It might just be that at sixteen or fifty six…boys do dumb shit. Peace.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mi Hija Loca

The phone rang this morning at 5:46. “Are you awake?” Is what I here upon answering. I grumble something about having to wake up to answer the phone. “Well can you pick me up at the Super 8 motel and bring me to Whitehouse?” I grumble something else about answering the damn phone to a strange number, and the reply I get is “Well the @$%&*%^%$ phone charger is a %(*&^%$$ car charger and the…” I stop the chatter coming through this miracle of technology that permits me unification with the larger world wherever I go as long as I pay both homage and stipend to the Gods of AT&T. I inform the contributor of this unneeded information that I will be along in about 45 minutes and to look out for my truck.

There is this young lady that is in my life that seems to think that our relationship, as evidenced by this morning’s telephone communiqué, is most effective when she wakes me up in the middle of the night. This being my vacation time, 5:46 AM is the latter part of the middle of the night. She is my daughter. She gets to do this because she is my daughter. I think she enjoys it. I think maybe I do too.

This whirlwind of nocturnal hustle and bustle came into my life approximately six years ago. I watched her walk into one of the twelve step meetings I attend with this biker who had started to come to my meeting. This pair has become the two most important people in my life. Him because he is the most decent and loving friend a man could have, and she because that day she latched onto my heart and has eradicated any thought within her that might even come close to telling her to let it go.

I remember seeing her that day and several days later, in the company of my ICE-2. One of the wonders of modern technology is the idea that one can put the phone number of the next of kin or person to contact in case of emergency in your cell phone address book, and if you are hurt and/or unconscious, whoever is giving you aid can notify the appropriate party. My Deifiúr is naturally the first to be called, and this gray haired old biker is the next to be notified, hence the ICE-2. It was this man that really put mi hija into my life.

She was this 17 year old, nearly feral, street kid. She has long red hair, and almost emaciated body, and a set of eyes that would and still drill straight into someone’s soul, making them instantly fall hopelessly head over heels in love. She knew this and was apparently well versed at using it to her advantage. She promptly began raping and pillaging her way through the younger guys in the group, taking hostages of the heart with the ease of the great Irish pirate queen Grace O’Malley.

I recall the first time we ever spoke. She walked (strode would be a better description) up to me and situated herself in front of me with her hands on her hips in anticipation of incarcerating my attention and whatever amount of my day she deemed necessary. She had on a blue miniskirt, tennis shoes with the little socks that barely reach her ankles, and a blouse with a slit down the front low enough to flaunt a generous amount of cleavage. On the stomach of the shirt was an arrow pointing up and the words “Hey, I’m up here.”

When asked why she would wear something like that, her reply was, “So that guys will look at my boobs.” She flashed an evil grin, and forced me to hug her. Well, not so much forced, as established that we would henceforth show affection for each other, by holding me in an unbreakable grip. Not, that is, that I wished to ever let go.

In the ensuing six years we have accumulated scores of adventures, encounters, episodes, events, incidents, ordeals, tests, trials, and tribulations ranging in all the emotional spectrum that can happen between a fifty something year old man and a maniac teenaged girl. I’ve spent many hours driving to, or driving her from, trailer houses located on the back roads of the county we live in. I, at one time, knew where all the drug dealers resided who live in trailer homes in that same county. Not exactly a necessary skill set that one of my advanced time in a drug recovery program should find it necessary to possess. As many miles as I drove that many fast food meals I provided her. For a while, she became a roommate and it was during that time that she became my daughter. She came out of yet another trailer house in the country, this time in pretty bad shape, and sat on my couch wishing she had a home. I offered her one, and she accepted.

As my dear departed Uncle Buddy taught me, women are crazy, especially seventeen year old street girls. All of a sudden I had these wannabe thug kids wearing khaki pants slung down to their knees in the back, “wife beater” t-shirts, and hip hop caps worn either backwards or askew coming to the door night and day. Sleepless nights wondering if she is going to come home, and whether or not she is getting beaten, defiled, or held hostage. She yelled at me when I asked her what she was doing, and would stomp off to her room and refuse to speak to me. And then came the pièce de résistance, she got pregnant while I was on a business trip.

I was accused of fathering the baby, even though I was in a completely different time zone when it happened. We fought; she moved out, had the baby and I became her father as she became my daughter. She became the light of my life, and I became her ICE. Not an altogether bad place to be in someone’s life…especially if you love them as I love her. Especially, you see, if you get to thank God for the opportunity to love and protect her, with all my heart and all my soul. Just like William J. Smith taught me.

Why am I so cheerful about this loss of sleep and rest? Because I asked God if I could see her for my birthday, which happens this Sunday and he said yes. Also because we spoke, and laughed, and told each other things that are going on in our lives, and hugged each other as if we were never going to see each other again. And because she told me she loved me. Have a good day Stacie. Te Amo Mía


Thursday, June 18, 2009


This was the reply Brigadier General Anthony Clement McAuliffe gave in reply to a message from the German commander at the Siege of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. Certainly, I know this as a part of what history, accurate or not, I learned in school. Yet this information came to me much sooner then my 10th grade World History class. This bit of lore was passed on to me by my favorite person in all of History…my Uncle Buddy.

Today is the anniversary of his birth. I have written a number of times on this most beloved kinsperson. Perhaps one might have read about him on my other locations on the World Wide Web. Perhaps, you have been privy to the many tales I impart of my relationship with this most gentle of men. It is of little import to me where and when, or even if you have never been acquainted with William J. Smith. I am thinking of him today and missing him.

He held a significant place in my life in that he was the man in my life who wanted me. For one reason or another, my father wished no connection with me other then that which my Dear Sainted Mother forced on him. It was Uncle Buddy who taught me those things a man needs to learn. He taught me that if I read many books, I would know many things. He taught me how to spit, a useful trait for a man to have, he said. I remember riding with him in his station wagon as we rambled about on various adventures, and watching him spit out the window without getting any on him, and knocking the ash off a cigarette with his pinky finger. Both, to this day, are necessary and manly activities that I still practice.

He taught me that it wasn’t my father’s fault that he didn’t want me, it was just the way he was. He taught me that the world had many things in it, and that I would have to figure a bunch of it out on my own. He taught me that women were, in general, crazy. He also taught me that it was the most noble and honorable thing in the world to love and protect the women in my life with all my heart and all my soul. A duty I wish I were better at.

I remember talking to him about being a paratrooper. He told me that he volunteered to be a paratrooper because he did not want to go overseas on a transport ship. The only problem was that in the 1940’s there were no troop transport planes that could make it across the Atlantic Ocean. His stories usually came by way of funny, or what seemed funny, reminiscences of duty off the front lines. I knew he jumped on D-Day. I know he was at Bastogne at Christmas the same year. I also know he liberated a concentration camp.

Uncle Buddy suffered from the same affliction as do I. I have been blessed with the gift of recovery. He did not have that available to him. He was Irish-Catholic which pretty much meant that he went to work, and came home and got drunk. I remember having a discussion with my Dear Sainted Mother where she told me that when he came back from the war, he spent the first 24 hours sitting at my grandmothers table, weeping uncontrollably. He would get “commode-hugging” drunk and as the years progressed, became a burden on the family. I remember asking him during one of those jaunts about town we would take, when I was thirteen, why he drank so much. He thought for a minute, and told me the entire story. He told me of liberating the concentration camp, the icy cold at Bastogne, the horror of D-Day, and about the dreams. He told me that he would have terrible nightmares at night if he didn’t get drunk. He came from a generation that did not believe in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They called if “shell-shocked” and half the time people with that ailment were considered cowards. I also remember, that despite his memories, the day he told me that he was proud of me for joining the U.S. Army.

He made me promise not to tell anyone, and I didn’t until after his death. The only one I told then was my Deifiúr, Paula. She will read this, and probably shed tears similar to those leaking down my face. I am not the only one whose favorite person was William J. Smith.

He would have been 89 today. He would have wanted me to take a ride with him in a station wagon. He would have wanted to sit on a chaise lounge reading a book and giving my Deifiúr lessons on the proper method of diving into a swimming poll from a diving board. I think he would have just wanted to be here, or perhaps I am just missing him. So, here’s to you Uncle Buddy and all the rest of those “Battered Bastards of Bastogne”…Happy Birthday!


Thursday, June 4, 2009


I find myself in a particular frame of mind that lends itself to once more impart to the teeming masses glorious tales of wit and wisdom as envisaged by this oft dimwitted yet persistent scribe. I have embarked on the creation, in earnest, of my next tome for which I am assured fame and fortune. As soon that is, as I find an agent/editor/publisher who is likewise oft dimwitted. My previous three volumes of wit and wisdom languish in my head, heart, and hard drive(s). I have taken some steps in that elusive path to success, and will carry on to boldly go where oft dimwitted writers go…back to work after my vacation is over.

I am in the fourth day of a 36 day vacation, and have adored every minute. I have tactical and strategic goals for the next month. A weekend with some fellow travelers on the journey of recovery, a visit with my darling Deifiúr and Captain Domesticado for the occasion of my attainment of yet another year on the voyage which brings me closer to the Great Reward, many meetings, and the sovereignty over my alarm clock and when to set it (or not). And there is the writing.

Grand campaigns aside, today I found my self back in that irksome and precarious place where we must all exist. The real world, that is. I left my Sanctum after a full thirty six hours in deep contemplation (mostly in front of the object of my most fervent fondness as accessed by a monstrously problematical remote control) and attempted to go out to do battle with humankind. In less haughty words, I was going to a meeting and Wal-Mart.
Annoyingly enough, my method of conveyance, manufactured and produced by a recently bankrupt automotive giant, almost did not start. I fumbled with the ignition and got it started with just a minute amount of expletives. I went to my meeting while charting my actions afterwards, which seemed to suggest a set of jumper cables, and a trip to the pawn shop.

The trip to the pawn shop comes in part due to it being the day prior to the coffers being opened where I will be, once more, compensated for my efforts to edify and enlighten the troubled young men the God of my understanding has left in my charge, and the woeful fact that I am yet to learn fiscal responsibility.

Well, the jumper cables were, indeed, necessary as was a trip to replace the battery. A friend gave me the jump, and handed he what we both thought would be needed to replace said part. He has an aversion to pawn shops which I wish to attain as a part of my character and psyche. A humorous side to the pawn shop dilemma is the fact that in all the years I attempted to destroy myself with drugs and alcohol, I never set foot in the land of the 23.5% loan interest rate. Now that I am not only gainfully employed, and compensated at the highest rate of any employment in this broke fool’s life, I find myself on a first name basis with the folk’s at my friendly neighborhood pawn shop.

Again, I digress. (I wonder if digression is a treatable disease.) I remembered that on the way to Wal-Mart there is an old fashioned mom-and-pop garage that specializes in batteries. My friend follows me to ensure that I would regain uninhibited mobility. I went into the office to begin the repair process, and found an elderly lady playing solitaire on a computer. She had the look of one’s grandmother with a husky gravelly voice. I inquired as to the price a replacement battery might be and she promptly replies “$38.18”

“Installed?” I said.

“Of course. You think it would do you any good sitting in your trunk?” This last statement came with an impish grin. I turned to my friend who bid me farewell. I asked it was a new battery and was informed that it had a blemish on it but it was as sound as any I might find at “One of them robber places.” She told me that she had been selling them for 44 years and saw no reason to change. She told me about a six month warranty and also told me to bring it back if I had any trouble and they would replace it if necessary. She took me outside and told a guy to go and get me a battery. She then replaced him on a small tool where he had torn into the wiring of a truck similar to mine, and proceeded to wade into the quagmire of wires and fuses.

Once settling the bill, I perambulated to my truck in grateful amazement. I ventured on to Wal-Mart and, purely out of inquisitiveness priced a battery. Tax, Title, and License their batteries were twice the price with a warranty that had about a five thousand word small print section that essentially stated that after six months battery replacement would be on a increasing price adjustment. This coming from a company whose founder drove a 1967 pickup truck produced by the same recently bankrupt giant automaker until the day he died. The same man who was the richest person in America and possibly the world for a long time.

I remember driving cars that were produced in the 1960’s and 1970’s, even a few from the 1950’s. They were simple affairs. One knew where to find things under the hood. An oil change or a tune up cost a six pack of beer and parts if you caught one of your buddies just right. The local garage was some body’s father or uncle or cousin who employed kids that you took shop class with. Computers were something scientist used to diagram the universe. Warranties meant that if it messed up on you, you brought it back and they fixed it…free of charge.

Today you bring a vehicle to a shop and they have to hook it up to a computer to diagnose what was faulty. If it needs to be repaired, they have this huge book that tells them how long it should take them to repair the problem and that is the minimum you pay, plus parts. If it takes 10 minutes and the book say three hours…there goes the object of my most fervent fondness as accessed by a monstrously problematical remote control.

Fortunately my lamentation aside, there are still mom-and-pop localities that allow this oft dimwitted, wordy (maybe to a fault), writer to use as fodder for your enjoyment. I hope.


Monday, June 1, 2009


This morning I find it necessary to perform a belated spring cleansing of the old cranium, dust off the old keyboard, and bore the shit out of some folks. I have been absent from this most wonderful cyber-medium for much too long. I keep thinking that I am a writer and I keep not writing. I smother my creative juices with the mundane pretext that I am involved in the business of educating the next generation and find that, in, that same generation is most assuredly…educating me. Staring into the face of one of my students last week, I found myself once more grateful for the opportunity to do what I do. This kid walks into my classroom during my conference period with a frown on his face, and his hands waving in the air yelling something which I can not interpret or quite simply understand. I stand, thinking that I might have to restrain him, and he grabs me in a bear hug, and tells me, “Motherf-----I made it!!!!!”

The “It” he was referring to is the fact that he had achieved the necessary grades to graduate from high school. I had a little to do with that. This young gentleman and I had crossed swords (metaphorically that is) on a few occasions when it fell to me to either personally remove him, or have him removed from class for the exhibition of truly abhorrent behavior. We have known each other for about a year and most of that time our relationship has been, well, strained. I suffer little in the way of disagreeable behavior, and he revels in displaying these selfsame behaviors I find irritating. The last thing I ever expected was that we would become close.

The last half a year I have been sort of co-teaching a class with our computer technology teacher. She is an extremely sweet and loving woman that can get even the most delinquent of adolescents to behave. I watched and learned many lessons from this Angel of the Keyboard. One of those lessons was to involve myself with student in such a manner as to display to them a sense that I care about them beyond their schoolwork.

My young friend has a desire to be a welder and, thanks to an excellent welding teacher, has grown exceptionally proficient for a lad of his age. One of my former attempts at gainful employment was as an assistant in a machine shop. While I am no hand with a torch, I can certainly recognize good work when it is in front of me. I took and interest in the work of my students taking welding, and I found it to be one of the best efforts I have made. This young man set aside his anger at me, and became a friend. Another allowed me to draw out of him a talent for poetry as displayed through hip-hop music. It felt amazing when I handed him an award for the “Most Talented Student” and heard the rest of the school cheer for him as if he were a rock star (oops! I mean Eminem).

Yet again I digress. I reached around my young friend and returned his hug. I looked over his shoulder to ensure no body could hear, and replied, “Motherf----- Okay!!!!

A good day, that was. I have had many since I last wrote on a regular basis. Perhaps this piece will be the beginning. I am off for a month on vacation. I’m going some places, to have a good time. I need to bring my notebook in from the truck and charge the batteries. Time to write.


Saturday, May 9, 2009


Sitting at my desk, I am attempting to do something that has been an increasingly difficult task of me of late. I am writing. I do this in spite of the fact that I have to go out today to a rather significant function in that small part of the cosmos that is my personal reality. It is the 25th Anniversary of the recovery group that brought me relief and direction in my life after a three decade search for enlightenment through the use of mind altering mood changing substances. I have been asked to speak this evening and I need to prepare myself while feeling, alternately, humbled and annoyed. It is a great honor to be asked in the first place to share the gift of my recovery. It is also irritating in that I will be forced to sit during the delivery of this speech. While I do think well sitting down, (I am, as you all should know by now, the next Great American, Award Winning, Oft Quoted, Best-selling, Classic Author) due to my decrepitude and advanced age. I do not express my self nearly as well while seated and speaking as when I can stand.

When first I entered the domain of public speaking I found it to be the most annoying of activities. I had to give a five minute lecture on the proper use of a water filled fire extinguisher. Thank the Great Spirit that the operation of said instrument is pretty much self explanatory. Had it been one of the newer, more complicated designs, I would probably have flunked and gone back to driving a truck while only wishing I was the Great American, Award Winning, Oft Quoted, Best-selling, Classic Author instead of actually doing something to achieve my dreams. Since that day I have actively strove to increase my abilities in the world of public speaking. I have taken courses in speech, workshops on effective verbal delivery, and chosen a profession where the key skill set is an ability to publicly address students and trainees.

I have discovered that I am at my best when I can wander and use the audience as a prop like some demented comedian or preacher. I have often carped on the ideal that speaking on recovery themes should not be, well, Performance Art. I have had experiences where I attempted to speak to friends who are about to get up and speak only to hear, “Leave me alone, I am trying to center myself.” My reaction was to think, to myself, that this is not some stage from which one inspires or entertains. It is an opportunity to help others by sharing your particular experience at becoming an acceptable, responsible, productive member of society. Yet, here I am, irritated at my reduced level of effectiveness at delivering a good how.”

I am writing this today because I read about it in my morning meditation book that there is poser in the pen (well, keyboard) as a path to the resolution of difficulties in ones life. I am, if anything, a fervent advocate for the Twelve Step program I belong to, and have found comfort and solace in doing those things told me by the program regardless of desire or thoughts contrary to the suggestion. I write and wish I were somewhere else. But first I write.

This piece is an exercise. The first part is to the reacquaint my fingers to the keyboard so that I am typing words that make sense and are easy to read. The second part is to reacquaint my self with the realities of this day. This day I have to go and do this thing while attempting to be genuine. I publish this today with the promise that I will be back tomorrow. Peace.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

GOD vs. Science

I will have to admit that these are not my words, although, I wish they were. I found this tale in my in box for my speak-to-the-rest-of-the-world email address. It was one of those Fw:fw:fw: deals which some folks find annoying. I do not necessarily take umbrage with these missives as I firmly believe that everything happens in my life a an intricate part of a Grand design of the God of My Understanding. That was "Grand" not "Intelligent" design, so those who are more liberal then I can read on without cause to jump on a soapbox and shut this page down in protest. Likewise, my more Republican (that means conservative...doesn't it?) can read on with assurance that these words will hold true for them also.

As mentioned earlier, I did not write the following story and do not know the original author. I will use quotation marks to separate it in the hopes that I do not get sued for copyright infringement. ( What will they get? The two hundred dollars I have earned as a writer, the second hundred of which promised but as yet not arrived?) The message had been through so many forwards that the original author must have got drowned out by all those eager to spread the word of the one true God. I pass it on because it demonstrates that the message is more powerful then the words in it.

"A science professor begins his school year with a lecture to the students,
'Let me explain the problem science has with religion.' The atheist
professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new
students to stand.

'You're a Christian, aren't you, son?'
'Yes sir,' the student says.

'So you believe in God?'

'Is God good?'
'Sure! God's good.'

'Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?'

'Are you good or evil?'
'The Bible says I'm evil.'

The professor grins knowingly.. 'Aha! The Bible!' He considers for a moment.
'Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can
cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?'

'Yes sir, I would..'

'So you're good...!'
'I wouldn't say that.'

'But why not say that? You'd help a sick and maimed person if you could..
Most of us would if we could. But God doesn't.'

The student does not answer, so the professor continues. 'He doesn't, does
he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to
Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?'

The student remains silent.

'No, you can't, can you?' the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a
glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.

'Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?'
'Er...yes,' the student says.

'Is Satan good?'
The student doesn't hesitate on this one. 'No.'

'Then where does Satan come from?'
The student falters. 'From God'

'That's right. God made Satan, didn't he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in
this world?'
'Yes, sir.'

'Evil's everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything, correct?'


'So who created evil?' The professor continued, 'If God created everything,
then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle
that our works define who we are, then God is evil.'

Again, the student has no answer.. 'Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred?
Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?'

The student squirms on his feet. 'Yes.'

'So who created them?'

The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question.
'Who created them?' There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks
away to pace in front of the classroom.. The class is mesmerized. 'Tell me,'
he continues onto another student. 'Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?'

The student's voice betrays him and cracks. 'Yes, professor, I do.'

The old man stops pacing. 'Science says you have five senses you use to
identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?'

'No sir. I've never seen Him.'

'Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?'
'No, sir, I have not.'

'Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have
you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that

'No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't.'
'Yet you still believe in him?'

'According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol,
science says your God doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?'

'Nothing,' the student replies. 'I only have my faith.'
'Yes, faith,' the professor repeats. 'And that is the problem science has
with God. There is no evidence, only faith.'

At the back of the room another student stands quietly for a moment before
asking a question of His own. 'Professor, is there such thing as heat?'

'Yes,' the professor replies. 'There's heat.'

'And is there such a thing as cold?'
'Yes, son, there's cold too.'
'No sir, there isn't.'

The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room
suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. 'You can have
lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white
heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We
can hit up to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any
further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be
able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees.'

'Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits
energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy.
Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is
only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold.
Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the
opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.'

Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding
like a hammer.

'What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?'

'Yes,' the professor replies without hesitation. 'What is night if it isn't

'You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of
something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing
light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called
darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word.'

'In reality, darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness
darker, wouldn't you?'

The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a
good semester. 'So what point are you making, young man?'

'Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start
with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed..'

The professor's face cannot hide his surprise this time. 'Flawed? Can you
explain how?'

'You are working on the premise of duality,' the student explains. 'You
argue that there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God.
You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can
measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought.'

'It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully
understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be
ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death
is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.'

'Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a

'If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes,
of course I do.'

'Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?'

The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where
the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.

'Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot
even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching
your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?'

The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has

'To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me
give you an example of what I mean'

The student looks around the room. 'Is there anyone in the class who has
ever seen the professor's brain?' The class breaks out into laughter.

'Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain, felt the
professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain? No one appears to
have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable,
demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due
respect, sir.'

'So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?'

Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face

Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. 'I guess you'll
have to take them on faith.'

'Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,'
the student continues. 'Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?'

Now uncertain, the professor responds, 'Of course, there is. We see it
everyday. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in
the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These
manifestations are nothing else but evil.'

To this the student replied, 'Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does
not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like
darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of
God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man
does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes
when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.'

The professor sat down."

Now I will admit that the whole "Is there a God"discussion annoys me. Why would someone have to figure out something so evident? Okay, maybe not the God I believe in, but the fact that one being thought all this up. There is evidence in everything around us. I will not details this evidence except to say that statistically, God has to exist. Too many people would be out of work if he doesn't. 33,600,000 web pages on Google talk about this with no definitive answer. One site lists the religions and their adherents. 4,743,000,000 people believe in God (according to this site). Given that there are 6,896,415,605 people in the world according to the World Clock that tells me that approximately 70% of the world believe in some sort of Greater Being(s). Who am I to dispute 7 out of ten people, especially if you take into account my math grades while in school.

All I really know is that I haven't written in a while and needed to enlighten the masses with something. This served a good muse (I hope) for my next piece. I received word that I am to be published again in an anthology about school teachers. One more bold step towards the conquest of the written word as we know it. Peace.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I’m sitting in a restaurant waiting for a table when I realize something astonishing. This awareness proved actually more disquieting then astonishing. This unsettling nugget of wisdom revealed a notion I have been hard pressed to admit, and even more willing to accept. My mind is polluted by notions and images that are, quite simply, false.

I am in Fort Worth Texas at the world famous Stockyards. This area, which in years past was the hub of the cattle business in America, saw the advent of an industry and the mystification of a lifestyle centered on the proliferation and utilization of creatures of the bovine nature. It, as well, spread the word of the true American hero…the cowboy.

The concept of the cowboy, nay, the legend of the cowboy, is but a sham in this faster then a speeding bullet world in which we live. I look about the restaurant and I see many cowboy hats, and boots. I observe the proliferation of perfectly creased starched jeans and long sleeved shirts. Huge belt buckles and western belts abound. The women similarly garbed, all seem to sport huge diamond rings, and their companion’s expensive gold watches. What I do not see is any sign of wear on any of clothes worn by the denizens of this famous steak house, or their “gear.”

Except, that is, from my companion. A rather tall, slender man who has creases in his boots from use, a comfortable hat that is well worn and cared for, a regular size belt buckle worn for its utility rather then its shimmer and a Timex watch with a leather band for durability. He speaks to me in a soft, unassuming voice that my ears have trouble hearing in the din of the crowd. Yes, his shirt and jeans are starched, but it is more the fact that he buys and sells cattle for a living and must maintain an appearance for the customers. I would venture to say that he might have been the only true cowboy in Fort Worth that night. At least the only one that actually knows the smell of bovine excrement as opposed to endeavoring to decipher it when it is spoken.

I’ve known this man for about ten years. He lives in a town about thirty miles down the road from me. We both maintain active membership in the same twelve step program. He has many more years in recovery then I, and is one of a small group of men in my life whose friendship makes me feel like I am a success. If he can honestly call me a friend, then I must have value in this world.

He lives on a small ranch with his grade school sweetheart to whom he has been married to over twenty years. She is a sweet lady who would serve as a good template for any man looking for a wife. He has raised two children, and a host of other peoples kids along the way. He actually owns cattle, and works them and others every day. He owns and rides horses and, as a teenager, spent some time roping in the rodeo

I call him “Drink.” It is after and old saying about tall people, “Isn’t he a tall drink of water?” He calls me “a big old son of a _ _ _ _ _.” We love each other greatly, and he tells me that he is lucky to have me for a friend. It is I for whom fortune has seen fit to favor.

The occasion of our being at that particular restaurant was the occasion of a “Road Trip.” This is a familiar term for many, and the term will stir memories of far away times and beat up old cars with coolers full of liquid refreshment of a mind altering mood changing manner. Ridiculously loud music and at least one nubile young lady along to flash her bosom at passing cars while your buddies moon the cop you just passed. Unfortunately, memories of past conquests are the reason we maintain and nourish our active membership in a twelve step program. Nowadays these road trips entail driving somewhere to experience a different meeting then we usually attend. Most of the time, however, this means a weekend convention (lots of fun, little sleep…clean and sober), or perhaps a speaker meeting where a fellow member addresses a group on the reality of their path to recovery.

I had been at his group, speaking actually, when he asked if I wanted to go. We rounded up another member with very little time in the program and off we went. We talked the entire way and worried little on where we were going. A wonder of modern technology mounted on the dashboard telling us in a soft feminine voice where to turn and when. We laughed when we did not listen to it and it had to recalculate our path. Someone says it sounds like his wife when he does not heed her directions.

We spoke as Lewis Carroll’s Walrus would have us speak, “Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--Of cabbages--and kings--” We asked the kid we brought along about his life and we told him about ours. He told us that he could not imagine being clean as long as we had. We told him that we couldn’t imagine it either. All we knew was that we had been able to wake up today clean, and the rest would just have to be something that happened, and not a goal. He said that he was confused, and we told him that we walked around confused all the time. We told him that we liked it that way. Makes us open minded. If that were the case, he said, then, he must have been walking around with his brain exposed to the world. We all laughed at how much in common we actually were. There really is no difference in people, just some age or experience…maybe.

We finished the night on the side of the highway hugging and saying goodbye. After being dropped off, I got a few miles towards home and a back tire went flat. Fixing a flat tire is not an activity I am capable of doing given my advanced(ing) age and infirmities. I called my friend and he told me he would be right there. Wile I waited several of my former students stopped to help. They did not even realize it was me and they had girls in the car, and yet, they stopped to help. At 12:30 AM. When he arrived we discovered that my spare was flat and it elicited another two hours to the adventure. Thank you God! Who would have thought that a flat tire would prove to be a welcome activity?

Life is a funny thing. It comes at us in unusual ways. It puts people together that, at the face of it, would prove to be unlikely friends. I think God planned it that way. I think I’ll pay for the next plate of calf fries my friend and I eat. Peace.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


I went to get a haircut this week. I have been attempting to find a barber for some time now. I used to have a regular at one of these “cuts” places. A very nice lady who, as it turns out, had a serious problem imbibing mind altering mood changing substances. Given my own propensity toward the consumption of such, and my thirteen plus years seeking respite from said malady, this did not bode well for the charisma I desire to elicit with my hair.

I will admit to a vanity where it comes to my hair. I have always received compliments on my majestic mane, and it seemed to be the one compliment that did not bring disquiet to my mind. I suffer from an affliction where it comes to my being on the receiving end of any accolade. For some reason, the accomplishments in my life feel empty and disturbing when voiced from without me. My best friend tells me it is my ego, and I usually tell him to embrace the south end of a northbound next-Great-American-iconic-author.

But why protest, one might say, after reading the gibbering and jabbering on this page and others. This guy has no reason to grumble about good thoughts and aphorism’s directed his way. Well it is my head, and the traffic in there is bad enough without anyone else trying to pass on the right, or any other such interchange faux pas. I like it and have no intention of changing. Besides, it looks cool when you close your eyes and wave your hand in the air while dismissing a flattering remark as “just doing what I’m supposed to.” That comes from the instruction manual I bought off the net entitled “How to successfully give an interview on the Jay Leno Show.” Humility is a bitch…especially when it is conjured and loaded with insincerity.

Yet again, I digress. I was getting a haircut and drifted into the world of male bovine excrement. Remorse is a much easier emotion. Anyhoo, (yes that is a word, a made up word, but still a word) I remember discovering that the young lady doing my hair began screwing it up, and ignored it at first in the hopes of a romantic assignation which, when it did happen, proved to be anything but the earth-moving experience I envisioned. When it did become a problem I decided to change hairdressers. The object of my adoration had a car wreck and ultimately went to jail, leaving me to discover my next object of obsession.

I floated around, aimlessly, trying this place, or that continually feeling unfulfilled. After several years, I discovered that the maintenance of my hair, and the subsequent difficulties possible, proved to be cumbersome and I walked into a barber college and told the student barber to take it all off. Burr cut like My Dear Sainted Mother would force me to get every year right after school so that it would be “cooler” on me for the summer. Reality was that my real dad would take me to the barber and he got tired of picking me up because it always entailed taking me out to eat…and talking to me.

Well I discovered that while it did, in fact, feel cooler in the summer, it also exacerbated the process. I have a job that requires me to appear neat and groomed. The haircut, at first glance, worked and it went well with the kids as they all seem to prefer the short look. Unfortunately, it required more attention. Previously, I would comb it and use hairspray to keep it in place. (I told you I was vain about my hair) Now, it seemed to grow faster and I am not dexterous enough to get a pair of clippers to do it myself. It needs to be cut more often because after about two weeks I look like the white guy in the terrorist kidnap movies (former Green Beret-turned mercenary) with the bad haircut, wearing John Lennon sunglasses that programs bombs for the main guy terrorist while translating everything into English for the hostages and authorities. Given that I was a truck driver in the army, and the sum total of my foreign language speaking acumen is the knowledge of how to find bars and girls in Spanish and German, I figured out that I needed to find a regular barber.

I tried the barber college and left satisfied about once every third or fourth time. Letting men cut my hair never gave me a gratifying sensation. I am . if anything, a creature of habit. While risking being tagged with the oft used title “sexist,” I have always preferred my hair to be cut by women. It almost seems that they are a better judge on what makes a man look good. Men always have to be told how to cut your hair. Except gay men hairdressers, who appear to have similar talents where it comes to making men looking attractive as the women. (After that remark I will feel just fine if I make it a week without being sued by GLAAD, or that cute little guy over at Super Duper Cutts name Javier)

I found a little shop operated by a group of Hispanic ladies, and it has become my tonsorial sanctuary. I enter and they smile at me. I sit in the chair and my coiffeuse, Alba, asks me how I am doing. As she cuts my hair they speak to each other in soft, melodious, tones using words which I do not comprehend. They greet each other when one walks in to start a shift, and wish me well when I leave. The haircut is always perfect, and it costs less then the Barber College. My coiffeuse is always there, and if there is such a thing as Nirvana for the well groomed, I would qualify for entrance.

I empathize with our new President where it comes to personal grooming. Upon packing and leaving for Washington, he reported that he would miss his barber. The Secret Service has told him that a barber would be brought in to him. I think this is a violation of his civil rights. I have come to feel safe in the ritual of going and getting my hair cut. It is that part of the week when I can think about absolutely nothing and just relax. I let the world go away and sit in the chair, listening to the soft sounds, and close my eyes and feel safe. I think that rituals allow us to maintain poise in our lives. I believe that a man should have rituals in his life to preserve that part of him that just wants to BE instead of being somebody. I think it is a requirement for a thinking man to have some time where he does not necessarily have to think. I think that I will go get another haircut. Peace.