16 April 2016

Spring Madness: Irrational Angers and Other Curiosities

Dear wannabe triathlete/sniper/adrenaline junkie/gun whore/whatever: Changing the last letter of your plural business name from an 'S' to a 'Z' does not increase its hipness. All it does is prove a lack of imagination on your part and induce a burning desire to deface that stupid sticker on the back window of your tired-ass SUV. 

P.S.: Pry open your wallet and shell out for the services of a pro graphic designer, you hack.

...We should spray you with some mace. Seriously, asshole, with the too big, cheap mirrored sunglasses on your head, back the hell off my bumper. You know how I can tell your sunglasses are cheap? Because you are TOO GODDAMN CLOSE to my rear bumper. Are you stoned or just stupid?

There is no dearth of shabby stores peddling alcohol and tobacco here in many areas in which I have to drive while shaking my own money tree. "We may not have good roads or decent schools, but by God we claim lung cancer and cirrhosis as our birthright!" I imagine the hawkers of business licenses around here to be saying. There are too many to name, but today for some reason the one that caught my eye and crystallized my disgruntlement was a store named (simply) "CHEAP SMOKES AND LIQUOR". I realized that it was actually one outlet in a small, local chain of outlets selling (you guessed it) cheap smokes and liquor. My god, man, have they no pride? Can no one do better?

Driving around here can be a distressing experience, what with all the people trying so hard to be polite and thoughtful while driving slower than the speed limit and playing endless games of "After you!" "No, after you!" "No, really you go ahead" "Okay, I'll stop in the middle of this busy road to let your ONE car turn left across traffic from a side road during rush hour with bumper to bumper traffic piling up behind me because I don't want to be rude..."OHFORFUCKS'SAKEEXERCISESOMECOMMONSENSE.YOURNEEDTOBEPERCEIVEDASNICEANDPOLITEISSERIOUSLYFUCKINGUPTRAFFICFOREVERYONEELSETRYINGTOGETSOMEWHEREYOUMORON!"

I arrive home, pull in the driveway, and kill the engine. Fatigue washes over me and I could fall asleep on the steering wheel. But there is work to be done, pipers to be paid, and no one will do it for me. I slouch out of the car and gather my things. The sunlight filtering through the trees across the street feels good. Some of the roads I drive suck the life out of me, but the most important thing (I whisper to myself) is that I always find the road that brings me back to home. I am home.

03 April 2016

Sunday Meditation #47: I Heard the Meadowlark Sing

I heard the meadowlark sing to me
From upon a roofline high
Tall grass whispered back in chorus
Breathless upon bended knee

Azure dome of heaven
Wheaten cathedral of earth
Wind an ethereal Mass
Sunrise upon my soul

Lungs fill with coolish air
I drop my small machine
Thanks escape parted teeth
I heard the meadowlark sing to me

28 February 2016

Sunday Meditation #46: Lost Tribe

In the course of my daily bread earning, I spend much time on the road. I drive a lot. Probably a fourth of that time is spent behind the wheel of a not particularly large automobile. This lifestyle affords me much time to think. This in itself is not a bad thing, but it does lend itself to excessive time spent thinking of things I'd rather not think about.

I am somewhere in Missouri, and even though the sunlight has made the day much more bearable, I harbor this irrational dislike for the state. I cannot put my finger on the way of it, all I know is that my presence in this heartland state is cause for irritation. It is illogical, I know. I cannot explain it. I suppose it is no coincidence that Missouri is not far from misery in pronunciation.

I am driving in between assignments. Par for the course. This drive time affords me a lot of time for contemplation, which is a necessary part of the daily diet for an introvert like me. What makes this different on this particular day is the music I am listening to as I drive.

For the record (pun intended) I have a CD in the car stereo. An oldie and goodie, "Joe's Garage Acts I, II, and III" by Frank Zappa. I have to on CD,  and on cassette. A relic from days long gone by. A relic of my brother.

My brother and I could almost sing the entire album from memory. We knew the lyrics. We could see past the surface of it all, the juvenile lyrics and the obsession with sex. We understood there was a deeper commentary going on, sometimes lost in the double entendres and clever words.

But that did not stop the cascades of memories. It did not hold back on the sadness and the pain I felt at rocketing down the highway and knowing there was no way to bring my brother back to this mortal coil. He has been gone over six years now, and the unreality of it all is persistent. He left us almost seven years ago, yet it seems sometimes that it happened just now.

What does it matter? you may ask. To that I say I don't know. Perhaps it does not matter to you. That would not surprise me nor would it pain me. All I know is that I am hurtling down the road and I miss my brother. He was a good man, in spite of the pain.

It occurs to me, in the watery sunlight of a Missouri afternoon, that I miss my brother. Terribly. He is the lost tribe, and I wander the forest in search of him.

10 February 2016

Now She Rides Shotgun (The Passenger)

The front passenger door opens and she slides into the seat. Not until the car is on the highway does it register what happened. Subtle and not subtle, like being caressed on the shoulder by an iron hand in a velvet glove. This new thing is not puberty, no. It is unmistakably, however, a threshold crossed.

Sunlight bounces diamonds off the snow piles, makes you dizzy. You were unprepared for that door to be opened. How did it get so far, so fast? This wee bundle you once carried like a little Easter ham through the hospital doors and into an astounding new life, now sits in the front next to you. When she sits up straight her head is not that far below the top of yours. It freaks you out.

This is not happening. Wait, it is. The evidence of your senses tells you in no uncertain terms. There will be no ignoring this little earthquake.

It crosses your mind that perhaps you have been out in the interstellar black for some time. Crossing the gulf at the speed of light and time passing so swiftly back on earth. Dilation. Relativity. Distances traveled beyond your comprehension so fast the disorientation upon arrival makes you feel as if you caught up with the self that was running away from you. Maybe this is the explanation for why you feel so old and new born simultaneously.

She makes you feel this way. Often. It is the way of your shared universe. To have played a role in the creation of her is both supreme accomplishment and fount of anxiety. You want the best for her. Your fear is that between you and the world, neither will deliver on that promise. The fishhooks of that fear spike your heart. The pain lends a frisson of urgency to the time you spend in her presence. "Will you get it right?" the imps ask at night as you fall asleep.

The door opened, she sat in the front seat. The pins rolled out from under you as the mass of years bore down on you in one brilliant and blinding moment. No longer is she the beautiful baby who had no comprehension of car seats and safe travels. No longer is she the luminescent toddler who chattered from the back seat. Probably never again will the rear view mirror reflect that quizzical look she gave you when you sang badly along with the stereo. Watching her now in the watery sunlight of a chilly February you rub 
with a trembling hand that certain spot over your heart. The warmth there tells you it will be okay. She is there. She is a blessing. She rides shotgun.