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Jul 31, 2006

A New Day

Yesterday at the station I realized how much I'd miss the place once I leave. For the next couple of weeks there I pull duty only one day a week; I told my boss that I'd work the weekends until she was able to find a suitable replacement.

The old man came in to buy his Hamm's, one of the last times I'm sure I'll see the guy. I desperately wish that at the end of his road, someone will be there to bury him. Contrary to my other experiences with the man, a line had gathered behind him; he'd come in during one of our rushes when normally it would be later at night, when the store was mostly empty. His gnarled hands like tree roots dove into his wallet, and it took some time. After handing him his change, he stepped to his right at the counter so that the next customer in line could check out. I met this next man's face, and saw a dead smirk and a flash in his eyes: "what a piece of work" is what I'd read. I'd hoped to return at him with a look of cold silence. Whether I accomplished this or not, his manner straightened.

"Have a good evening," I made sure to say to the old man as he turned to walk out.

Such an incredible change I've witnessed in the fellow over the last few months, first coming in with an edge of anger, now calm, polite, just happy to have someone to talk to. Kindness, and the power within it, are both transformational, and free.

Later in the night, I thought about how this has been a summer of extraordinary sunsets. Near neon pink skies, to red, to purple, cast across clouds strewn about in patterns like wind-blown sand. Infinite in variety, beauty, and magnificence. Just like the people that walk through those two glass doors, if one is fortunate enough to be in the right mind to really see them.

In bed, I tossed, turned, couldn't shake a thousand thoughts scurrying through my mind. When sleep finally fell, the comfort I found floated in on a cloud, and the belief that my sun is rising.

Jul 27, 2006

You Find a Title

Rest and relaxation was the over-arching theme of yesterday's evening. Sprawled across the fat, sand-colored couch, watching Criss Angel, eating a sub. TV isn't something I do very often, and this was the first time I'd seen this magician and his stunts. I ended up sitting through three episodes, and my head did hurt afterwards. He did some things that I currently can't comprehend, things I haven't had the time to investigate further.

I didn't mind being home last night, alone for most of it. Normally, that house is in such a condition that I stay away from it as much as possible. But during the day, the cleaners came in and voila the place became habitable. There I saw the true work of magicians. The floors, walls, windows, bathrooms, kitchens, all of it sanitized and freshened up. Mmmm....finally.

So then, imagine my horror when I saw, upon leaving the bathroom after brushing my teeth, two cockroaches milling about in the shadows near my bedroom door. Cockroaches. I stood frozen. Earlier in the evening, Angel had turned an almond and a plum into cockroaches. But that irony escaped me as I was mortified, staring down at these two little creatures crawling about the carpet. One started inching towards the recliner, the other towards the wood baseboard that separated my room from the livingroom. Hell no, I thought to myself, and scanned the area for a suitable object which I could use to bring swift retribution upon the black heads of these ugly insects.

A screenwriting magazine. Where the hell did this come from?

Dropping to my knees, I raised the zine up over my head, intending to crush the one nearest the recliner. I swung it down to the carpet in a flash as fast as lightning, and then nothing. No roach. Out of sight. But there wasn't much time to sit there and mull over the kill, or the lack thereof. The other bugger was about to cross the plane into my room. This one was in the light as opposed to the last one. Creeping up, I repeated the same action I took with the first, and this time I connected square. He hasn't moved since last night. He'll remain there until I can think of the proper person to show, someone who will be as equally nauseated.

I couldn't help but scour the livingroom for the first attempt's body, but I found nothing. I went to bed with visions showing that just outside my door, a small colony of cockroaches had gathered around the mother cockroach, a bitch of a specimen about the size of a football.

The fan on my desk blew an uneasy wind that ruffled my sheets into the dawning hours of the morning.

Jul 25, 2006

Disjointed Vignettes from a Monday

I had an impatient air about me last night at the gas station, though I wouldn't dare let the customers know it: that's against protocol. I'm not sure why the thin, ex-military man who came in on three separate occasions for fifty-cent cups of coffee annoyed me; I did learn about the liberating sensation that accompanies cursing out loud in a customerless gas station.

***

Ugly storm clouds began to roll in from the north, something like ravaged and soiled cotton. I wished to the gods that it would piss all over that town, knock out the power, force these people to stay home. Distant flashes of lightning and the smell of cow manure on the wind promised good things.

The clouds moved overhead, dropped nothing. Only darkened the sky a few hours before dusk, and remained there until the sun set, effectively blocking out what was most likely a brilliant purple-red sunset.

No sun nor rain. Brought to the point of orgasm, then roused from the dream. How badly I wanted to see the storm.

***

There's a woman that comes in from time to time with her young daughter. She sends the girl back to the candy aisle to select an item while she stealthily sets her purse down on the counter in front of me.

Here begins the covert operation.

Three packs of USA Gold Cigarettes, quickly now, ever-glancing backward towards her blonde-haired daughter in the aisle. It feels like a drug deal. She pays, then returns to her daughter with the grits snug, safe, and out of sight inside her purse. Often she'll scold the girl for taking too much time when choosing an item, and usually it amounts to a twenty-five cent pack of gum. Maybe her anxiousness is from the rush she gets buying the cigarettes, keeping the habit secret from her daughter.

The two of them returned to the counter after the mother hurried the little one into making a choice; at first I attributed the look on the girl's face to the fact that her mother had pushed her into choosing something, anything, whether it was really what she wanted or not. But in the girl's eyes I saw something more: she wasn't looking at the floor, or the gum, or her mother. She stared straight into my eyes, and there was a realization inside them, an "I know what you just did, motherfucker," type of look.

They exited, and I felt a bit ashamed, though I'm not sure why.

***

Later, at the Baer over a beer, I talked with one of my professors/friends about a falling out I had with my advisor while in college. Post-graduation, post-awards, post-accomplishments, I never heard from him. Not even a "nice job," and this coming from a man who values language like few others I know.

I've been avoiding his office all summer long; even the simple tool of e-mail isn't used as a means of communication between us, an empty avenue either way you walk down it. The whole idea has been crushing to me, and I poured this to my friend, and it felt so good. Tired of holding in my feelings on the issue, I poured, exhaled, rid myself of that garbage.

The man intimidates the hell out of me; many people would concur. There is not a man there many times, but only an image of a man.

Artists are generally interesting and weird people in nature. We have our quirks, but it doesn't allow us any sort of license to carry on like a deific being. Often times geniuses are the ones who act that way by default, completely out of this world, because they have no clue on how to control the gift, and relate it to others.

But there are few of those. Most of us need developing, watering, nurturing such as a plant. The trick is that no matter how high one's spread reaches, you can't forget where the roots are grounded. We're all in this reality together.

Jul 17, 2006

Predictions

Monday, July 17th @ 9:30AM

I am very wary of them. They can be quite dangerous, based on a feeling, or an anlysis of inter-related events that pushes a person towards a certain idea of how things will be; this is much different than the idea of how things should be.

I try to avoid predictions. What's going to happen will happen, and there ain't much this boy can do to stop the perpetual motion of the spinning earth. But nevertheless, as my interviews approach, I can't shake the feeling that something is altogether off-kilter. Better said, they've already decided that I'm not going to get this job. The rest is just process, routine, protocol, and nothing more.

Analysis of the issue, politically as well as psychologically, offers no help. I am a man of language, and it seems that the words that I hear all point towards one thing: a consolation prize. It's the sort of language that surrounds the French soccer team. You played a good game; you were qualified, maybe moreso than the other side, but you weren't awarded a title. But nice job. Second place really isn't all that bad.

I can see this happening. Clearly as if it has already taken place. Predictions. Making sense of that which hasn't been nutured into fruition--yet. I hate predictions.

The catch phrases have revolved around "being the right fit at the right time." Sometimes, I've been told, you have the right fit, but it isn't the right time. Or vice versa, the right time, not the right fit. I think right now I am somewhere in the midst of both ideas.

I've come to learn now that confidence has nothing to do with standing in front of a mirror and mouthing to yourself, "the job is mine, the job is mine." No. It extends way beyond that. With confidence comes a peace in that, if things do not work out this time around, there's still a place for me somewhere out there.

Jul 16, 2006

A Bloody Sunday

I traded sleep for other prospects, some realized, some not; last night marked an eve of celebration. One of my friends throws a party for his birthday each year, gets a bunch of live music and beer. Although, last night I didn't drink while out, the first time in the long time. Early on in the course of the evening it dawned on me that I was going to remember every single conversation, each person who was at the club that night. Out of the hundred or so there, I easily knew eighty, and talked with half of that. Such a difference without that poison. So much more to write about.

Then I wake up this morning, no hangover, accompanied by beauty itself; a feeling that soon waned. Since I rose so early I caught up on some news and the only thing showing was the story in development outlining how the Fertile Crescent is again burning, and this even the conflict only escalates.

Where are we headed, I ask myself. I listen for God. Outside, with a cigarette, I stood in the road with my eyes closed, soaking in the sounds of the coutryside. Crickets. An American flag in the wind. The faint whir of AC units in the middle of campus. I hoped to learn something, utilize this sense, as so much of me relies on what I can see with my eyes. Maybe that's where God escapes me. I thought of how I should quit smoking to better enable my sense of smell.

After a while, I could hear the sound of critters moving through the garden, and the dry grass, probably mice and/or beetles. I opened my eyes, and was greeted by the orange flourescent glow of the lights across campus. What's goin' on?

When will be the beginning of the end of things? Is it arrogant to assume that we haven't passed that point already? In either situation, where lies the hope? I say it's out there: stand in front of a mirror, cross your eyes, and look no further.

Jul 14, 2006

Why I Love My Mother

It was a big day today; fifteenth of each month is payday from the college, and since this month's fifteenth falls on a Saturday, they give out checks on Friday.

Satisfied--twice the amount of hours doubles the amount of cash--I went to Mom's desk to show her the earnings.

"You make more than I do!" she said.

"Bullshit," I replied. "Let me see."

Sure enough, her check for the month was slightly less.

"That's not fair," I said, as it isn't. She does a hell of a lot more than I do, at least at this point. "What do you make per year?"

"I can't tell you that," she said, grinning.

I did the math myself then.

"So you make ?" I asked.

"No, no," she said. "I have insurance taken off of there."

"Ten thousand dollars for insurance?" I asked. "What kind of plan is that?"

"I have insurance out on you, and your sister."

"Ma, I'm not covered under you anymore, remember?"

I thought of my $1000.00 deductible and the $176.00 doctor bill I received after the physician touched my nipple and small talked for roughly five minutes

"No, life insurance," she said.

"So if Ash or I die, you'll get a ton of money?"

"No! So I can bury you!"

"You can burn me, you know?"

"That still costs a lot of money."

Can't they just put me in a Folger's tin?

"You can burn me in the backyard, you know?" I said.

Apparently, at her age, she doesn't want to go to jail.

Jul 13, 2006

Sometimes You Don't Feel Like Dancing, But She Does

1.

You can tell a lot about a town by simply observing a good sample of its people, even if only for moments. The town where I work at the gas station is quite small, under seven-thousand people. Clientele there is made up largely by the blue collar workforce: farmers, landscapers, garbage men, factory workers, for the most part. Men and women alike.

2.

There is a man that I normally see once during the fourteen hours I work there. On the first occasion I had seen him, for the first five seconds I wasn't able to notice that the entire right side of his face and neck were covered in burn scars. He was turned away from me. His ear, completely gone. Nothing there, not even the stump of what once was. Just a black hole slightly smaller than a dime. The hair on the right side of his hear, circling around to the back, was completely gone. No shine on the charred skin.

Today he came in wearing a sleeveless t-shirt, revealing that the burns had also singed his arm, all the way down to his hand. The skin was leathery, looked more like scales in fragments. He'd lost most of two fingers on that hand as well, and didn't even bother to use it when pulling money from his wallet.

His gas and the beer came to nineteen dollars and change. He smiled and let out a sarcastic groan.

"My wife only gives me twenty bucks a week," he joked.

His wife.

Dear God/Goddess/Thing if you are out there I know you are in this woman because she is truly a person that knows the right places to seek beauty in.

After he left, the man next in line eyed the scarred man all the way out to his car.

"Ow...," the man in line said. "Jesus."

He caught sight of a boat next to one of the pumps; the scarred gentleman was walking towards it, and naturally the man assumed that it belonged to him.

"Let him go fishing," said the man who stood in front of me. "He deserves it."

Then, the store was empty. I looked out the window, and saw the burned man getting into a car parked at a pump adjacent to the boat. Afterall it wasn't his boat. But that matters not.

3.

There is a bounty of interesting characters within that small-town. Hard workers. Bull-shitters. Of the three cops on patrol at any given time, one of them usually rides a bike during the summer.
Currently, Main Street is ripped to shit. The belly of the town has been gutted, creating mass chaos for drivers who call it home as well as for those just passing through.

Tonight there must've been an accident, or a fire, as all sorts of emergency vehicles had raced by the station, their horns blaring. A few of them got lost, and I saw the same trucks, the same drivers pass by for the second time. The construction was confusing them as well.

Throughout the night I couldn't help but notice how many of the town's men were missing fingers. I wiggled mine, and decided that I'd pick up my guitar soon as I arrived home.

4.

The old man with stringy hair came in late. Normally he'd make it in before eight; tonight it was quarter to ten, and he stumbled in piss drunk. I knew that this would be my last customer for the evening. In between indiscernable mumblings I was able to tell that he'd planned another pit fire for the night, and that'd he'd parked his car at home before walking to the gas station. Work has been slow for him and his lawn-care business, since there hasn't been a steady rain in the last week. I made sure to call him "chief" on his way out.

5.


There is another older gentleman who comes in from time to time. I'd recognized him as someone I'd seen before, walking solo down the old, country roads in his pink and green train conductor's hat, grasping a white plastic bag of groceries. The first that that I'd encountered him at the station, he ended up asking if I were married.

With my reply, he said, "Good. Biggest fuckin' gamble you'll ever make in your life."

Tonight the topic was education. He'd asked about the other place where I work. Initially he misunderstood, and then asked what I was studying.

"I'm finished," I replied.

"That's one of the smartest things you can ever do," he said, then quickly, "I was on the railroad for forty years."

He told me about when they'd hired the first college graduate to work on the road.

"I don't know what the fuck you need a diploma to do that for."

They paid the graduate more money, apparently, and it was expected that the graduate tell the old man exactly what needed to be done while working on the railroad. I can understand the man's emotion over the issue.

"If you worked on that line for thirty four years, then you could tell me what to do."



Jul 10, 2006

The Last Post...For a While

Still I sit here absolutely mortified by Zidane's fatal mistake. I've been reading loads of reports, watching various newscasts, trying to figure it out, trying to allow it all to set in. I've decided it was forgivable: the football god is human.

Anyone up for South Africa in '08? I think by then I might've accumulated the cash to go. Could be fun! See, the reason that the cash might be in hand is that I am on the edge of acquiring a very nice position at the college. Final round interviews next week with the admissions director, the athletic director, the vice president of academic affairs, as well as the president.

Send good vibes please.

Earlier this evening at the gas station, one of the regulars stopped in, an older fellow with long, stringy hair, his peach button-down shirt open, exposing grey hair on his chest. He comes in each night for a twelver of Hamm's and a couple packs of cigarettes, talks about the pit fire he's about to build, waiting for the thunderheads to roll on in, listening to nature's music.

I made a comment about the gas prices, and he said something to me that I won't repeat for a half-baked fear of the NSA and related agencies that have the power to make both the old man and me disappear. And I wouldn't want to do disappear, which finally relates this ramble full circle to my title.

I'm taking a sabbatical from the blog world. Sometimes the stagnant summer heat can make things seem to drag on, and when you're not looking, things move and change. For the remainder of the summer I'll be finishing the book of essays I'm working on in order to complete the requirements for a writing degree that will add immensely to the liberal arts degree.

Updates from time to time, and of course, I'll be checking my favs all the while.

Peace.

Jul 9, 2006

Recovery and Recapture

The last week and a half has been a blur. Life on this side of the blogosphere seems to have gone stagnant. Nothing but concerts, Cup games, and nights out with friends. Neither my mind nor my body have been given the correct amount of time to process the happenings of the week, and now it is time to recover, recant, and tell new stories.

Last night, as I sat with friends on a moonlit tiki bar that overlooked a lake, a swing band played cover songs. Underneath the unobstructed three-quarter moon, three or four older couples shuffled out into the dance area in front of the band; they could've been my grandparents, yet they seemed as if they were twenty again, the man back at port, off the ship, for a short stay, and she his hometown girlfriend.

That's where I want to be. That's exactly what I want to do. Nestle that muse up in my arms, float her around for a number or two.

The World Cup is Over



There have been three losses today.

France went down in penalty kicks against Italy.

The second loss comes as a result of the fact that I am an American and now it will either take a wait of four years or cash I don't have to see some damn good soccer comparable to the play I've witnessed over the past month.

The third loss was that of Zinedine Zidane, the phenom from France, set to retire after this year's cup. Whoever it was from Italy defeated him in a mental game, made Zidane snap, and the aftermath might have very well been the reason France isn't currently the 2006 World Cup champions. This was a Tyson-bites-off-Holyfield's-ear type of event. What were you thinking, Zuzu. A killer for fans of the game, team alliances aside. The mood rapidly changed after his incident, and I'm sure that Zidane went straight into the locker room, and cried for the remainder of the match.

I am hurting with you tonight, Zidane.

Jul 3, 2006

An Abortion

A porch swing creaks
at the hinges where
it's held by eye hooks
attached to the porch ceiling.

What I'm feeling
is that I should be there in
the swing's white innocence
even though I know
it was once red.

I see four legs,
yours and mine;
Feeling fine though
this could be the last leg
or the first
or the final turn,

Leading nowhere,
back and forth
on an invisible pendulum
moving somewhere while
measuring our progress with
each creak, each whisper in
the wind;

For when the stars fall like leaves
we will only be memories in the eyes
of the world or even nothing but a
stray hash mark in the chain of events
of all things, but either way
it was simply better to have
lived.