26 January 2009

Zoo Station Blues

I'm ready
Ready for the laughing gas
I'm ready
Ready for what's next
Ready to duck
Ready to dive
Ready to say
I'm glad to be alive
I'm ready
Ready for the push

Yeah, man, bring on the laughing gas, ‘cause I need it, sitting here looking out the black glass of the windows and I’m cold, cold, man COLD all the freakin’ time. Winter I know, so cold is part and parcel, in the package, a standard feature so to speak. I could use some laughs because I’m down, “in the weeds” one might say. Being tired all the time has that effect.

I’ve been ducking for the better part of my life now, whew, I’m a regular mallard. Ready to duck, ready to dive, yeah goddamn right I’m glad to be alive. What’s the alternative? Still, I sit and think and write and I wonder what is the reason to put my feet on the floor. I pretend I don’t know the answer but I really do. Being on the back of the tiger is what makes me put ‘em on the floor. I like the tiger, all that muscle and bone and sinew, and the power coursing through its veins, especially when it gets angry, riled up as we used to say, and that makes him dangerous.

But being dangerous in some ways is also BEING ALIVE. Ain’t no one, no one on this green earth that can live without being dangerous in some way. This is an Unavoidable Fact of Existence. But the difference being, is it good dangerous or is it bad dangerous? I prefer to be good dangerous, i.e. taking risk for a greater good. Doing the Risk/Benefit analysis, just like they taught me in school (and what as my blessed parents tried to teach me as a wee lad) to determine if your “Benefit” is great enough to outweigh your “Risks”.

As the saying goes, “Before you try beating the odds, make sure you can survive the odds beating you.” A mantra, I says.

So I stare out the window into the black night, looking for stars, and asking myself if I can beat the odds. Am I ready for the push, man, the push that will send me out the door of the plane. I’m scared, man, scared, but that not so little voice in the back of my head says “Do it. The pressure is on, and this is the push you need, if you wanna survive.” I want to survive.

The ghost reflected in the glass mouths the words to me, “I’m ready for the push.” I’m ready.

Ready for the shuffle
Ready for the deal
Ready to let go
Of the steering wheel
I'm ready
Ready for the crush
Let go of the steering wheel? Did I ever have it in my sweaty, nervous hands? Ha, I used to think I did. I used to think I was the Man, the shizznit, like I had a direct line to the molten hot center of the Earth feeding me power. I could open my mouth and drink deep of liquid rock and metal, yeah, man, ‘cause I was fuckin’ indestructible. Gold plated and bullet proof! Nothing I couldn’t do, no mountain I couldn’t climb, because I was The Man. And I didn’t need any help, thank you very much. I could do all this because I was Superman.

And it was all bullshit, you see, because I not only jumped on that bobsled to hell I was greasing the skids. Because I was in control and no one was going to take that away from me. And no one did. See, I was right. No person took it away. It was the Universe what took it from me.

So I keep staring out the black window, cold air peeling in sheets down the glass, curling around my hands and legs and spiraling its way to wrap my heart. All the while I carefully avoid the Bottle sitting on the edge of the desk, its contents mocking me daring me to pick it up, yeah, man just pour a finger or three or maybe your whole goddamn hand, because you need help. And the bottle says “I might be just the fellow to give you that help, you pathetic bee-yotch, because you know there is no chance, like snowball vs. hell kinda chance you can do this all by yourself”.

My hand trembles, fingers flex a bit as the impulse shivers its way from the dilapidated Control Center of my brain, and just for a second I consider that the bottle may be right. Just for a second. I may be tired and all edgy and stuff, but I am not stupid.

The bottle is right on one count: I can’t do this all by myself. But I can’t control it all myself, either. Control is what nearly killed me, put me on this path, made me think that all this time I was the one calling the shots. I was driving The Car, right? Yeah, right. Careening through a black void tunnel I didn’t know was a tunnel and telling myself the entire time I could see in the dark. That lasted until finally I hit the wall. Hit the wall like a comet slamming into a mountain, or a meteor crashing into a house. Yeah, and all the while my hands were on the steering wheel. What a joke. Evel Knievel was my spiritual twin. So, my relationship with control is a little on the hate side, you know? Crawling from the wreckage, alone and bleeding, the Voice shouting in my ear: time to let go, let go of the steering wheel.

Alright, alright, alright, alright, alright
It's alright... it's alright ... it's alright ... it's alright
Hey baby... hey baby ... hey baby ... hey baby ...
It's alright
It's alright

Who said that? Okay, maybe its alright, but baby, why do I feel so goddamned alone? Answer me that, Man in The Glass. Man? I squint. He’s looking a little different. Head is blockier than it was, ears have changed. He smiles, and the fucker has some fangs. Not little mousey type fangs, I mean thick as an index finger, two-inch long ‘effin man-killer type fangs. He’s got spots all over his head and neck, and his outline is getting all blurry. Shit, man, shit don’t go all shaman on me, don’t you know I got work to do? Some serious dollar-chasin’ to accomplish?

He just grins. He says, no, he growls to me: I know you feel alone, just make sure you go chasing in the right direction. This ain’t no Buddhist Eight-Fold Path smack talkin’, it’s your Truth right here, right now. What’s it gonna be? Which path, right or not-right? And you do know the answer, you just won’t face up to it. You, my friend, need to unleash the beast. Otherwise, you might as well just lay down, start crying and sucking your thumb. Oh, and shut up about it. You are going to get sick of that whiny voice in your ear, like a cosmic mosquito reminding you that you missed the train.

Time is a train
Makes the future the past
Leaves you standing in the station
Your face pressed up against the glass

Shit. My face is pressed up against the glass, when did that happen? Wet with sweat or tears, I don’t know. Leaning against that cold, black plate and wondering just how hard I would have to press before the glass shatters and my head crashes through it with shards digging into my neck and I writhe frantically slick with blood and screaming at the freezing winter air, and I push and push like a animal gone crazy with pain and I stretch my arms out in front of me, but they aren’t arms anymore they are legs ending in paws. Big paws with obsidian daggers poking out from the tips, and the scream turns into a howl, a roar at the top of my lungs, and my ears twitch as I hear the brakes release on that train I can see at the platform at the bottom of the hill and through the trees and I run, run like the beast that I am I can feel the muscles working and the blood pulsing, and it feels like LIFE. The train starts to pull away and I can see there is an open window not too far away and I heave a sobbing breath, my muscles contracting in a painful spasm and I launch myself at that open window, the Gateway to The New, the blood, the pain all falling away and the sky goes white. The train seems to blur or is that me as I leap and I tell myself, I’ll make it, I’ll make it, I have to, Life and Love are waiting there…

I'm just down the line from your love ... Zoo Station
Under the sign of your love ... Zoo Station
I'm gonna be there ... Zoo Station
Tracing the line ... Zoo Station
I'm gonna make it on time ... make it on time ... Zoo Station
Just two stops down the line ... Zoo Station
Just a stop down the line ... Zoo Station
(Italicized paragraphs are lyrics from “Zoo Station” by U2, from ‘Achtung Baby’)


  1. My head's spinning. Can i have that glass of wine now Mr Irish?

  2. Ready for the push... yes. Indeed.

  3. Being that I've never let my JOB (not career) dictate anything about my life, I can't really relate to changes and the feelings of "being brought down by the universe".

    However, I feel for your pain. I really, really do.

    And, I think you're totally ready for that push.

  4. Me thinks you have been doing a LOT of thinking lately...
    Too much analyzing is not a good thing...

  5. My best friend wrote a song called "Chase the Tiger Down" all about running after a life that feels impossible to catch. It is such great imagery. I will post it the next post I do for you. You might like it.

  6. Very intense. I feel emotionally pulled down now... not in a bad way, even if that sounds bad. But in an intense way. Very powerful.

  7. Hey, it's tough when you realize you are just like everyone else, isn't it? Human, average, normal.

    But what separates you, Irish, is what you are doing here everyday.

    There's your path.

    Go man!

  8. That was one hell of a read, powerful and emotional, what an examination. By the way I love that mantra, brilliant. :)

  9. Wow. I'm dizzy from the gravity. (You know this would make an excellent Spin for Song week on the Spin Cycle. Let me know if you wanna link up!)

  10. Okay, that was heavy and perplexing. Sometimes you gotta push through that tunnel to come out on the other side, into the bright sunshine.

    Are you seeing it now? The light?

    Hugs, IG.

  11. Bono makes me think, too. You'll make it Irish. Have a Guiness.

  12. Hmmm.....I hope there isn't forbidden fruit waiting at Zoo Station. Because if it is, that's not LIFE, that's a RUSH. That's what you might call CHASING THE DRAGON.

    But I hear ya. I have a caged beast too. Mine has been clawing the walls of my fragile flesh, looking for some kind of exhilarating run at life too. But where to go? There are only so many stops when you take the train. Maybe you'll work up a better sweat if you get off the train and run instead. You know, that whole "it's not so much the destination but the journey" business.

    By the way, Achtung Baby is my all time favorite album. I told Church Punk Mom about my years long plan to write a response to each one of those songs as if I was the one the lyrics were written to. Maybe I should take care of that this year.

    So get off that train, ya nut. Wanna go for a walk? I didn't bring a trail pass anyway.

  13. okay, i need a tall glass of guiness after this!! wow!!!

  14. Okay, I'm putting myself out there and taking a risk, because my blogging buddies aren't too terribly different from my real-life buddies (and for good reason):

    My maiden name was Smoot.

    I tell you this for two reasons. One being that I grew up with a built-in nickname - Smoooooooooooooooooooooot. By the time I was a junior in high school, I couldn't walk into a classroom without it sounding like a goddamn herd of cattle.

    Thank gawd they never knew my parents called me "Pooh."

    Secondly, I think your soccer coach may have been the soccer coach at my high school at one point. Not that I was ever actually on the soccer team, you understand, but he also taught PE, a class in which I was routinely voted Underachiever of the Year. To this day, I can still hear the coach.

    "Come on, Smoot - it's not gonna happen through osmosis."

    Ah, fleeting youth...

  15. And just call me a moron, because I just went and ALL put the previous answer on the wrong damn post.


    Oh, and yes - I loved the story.

    "used to think I was the Man, the shizznit, like I had a direct line to the molten hot center of the Earth feeding me power. I could open my mouth and drink deep of liquid rock and metal, yeah, man, ‘cause I was fuckin’ indestructible. Gold plated and bullet proof! Nothing I couldn’t do, no mountain I couldn’t climb, because I was The Man. And I didn’t need any help, thank you very much. I could do all this because I was Superman."

    I have never seen adolescence and young adulthood described quite so well.

  16. Gumby...you ARE the shizznit!

    Pushing is better than pulling by a long shot.

    My coach used to say.."If you don't move your feet, you're going to die there, idiot!"

    I'm sure he was speaking metaphorically.....either that or he drank WAY too much coffee...

    Be strong brother! :)

  17. I'm not sure what's going on here, but I'm concerned for you. See my face? I'm frowning right now, head cocked just slightly, in that Cocker Spaniel kind of way my mother does so much better...
    The feeling you describe is familiar to me and is usually a precursor to my doing something scary and/or irresponsible.
    Keep writing. I want to know...

  18. Intrigued here. And pouring a drink.

  19. Now this, this is something I can feeel, feeel!!

    "Lights go down, it's dark, the jungle is your head....

    Peace - Rene

  20. Ack. You know that the train has to go through the dark tunnels toward lighter things.

    You're doing a great job. :-)

  21. Braja: Of course! We’ll spin together.

    CPM: Almost. I can feel my legs tightening…

    MD: Not so much pain as intense pressure. (thanks!)

    BEW: Ha! Lots of thinking, not a lot of analysis, does that make sense?

    Panic Room: Sweet! I’m looking forward to hearing it!

    Michelle: Good! I like layering things.

    Liz: The cool thing? I understand exactly what you mean. :)

    Shabbygirl: For me, it approached the traumatic. Thank you for the hint. :)

    Rachael: Thank you! “The examined life” is starting to reward me. And that mantra, I’m glad I came across it. Good philosophy!

    SK: Sit down, deep breath! I am curious about the Spin for Song, tell me more…:)

    FL: ‘Heavy and perplexing’ is a perfect description of my head! And I am getting some glimmers…(thank you for the hugs!)

    Ashley: Thanks! And a toast, Slainte! *clink*

    Teri: I see it as not so much forbidden, as more what I should have had all along. Intriguing idea about getting off the train for the run. Hmmm. (love your idea of writing a response, I’ve been planning one for “The Fly” for a long time!) I could use a good walk ;)

    Krystal: You, me and Braja, at the bar, STAT!

    Jan: *giggle* That’s okay, you’re cool. Your insight is very interesting. I hadn’t considered the adolescence/young adult when I wrote that, but it fits, quite well. Thank you!

    Sweet Cheeks: Thank you! I will!

    Pearl: *big laugh* That image of the spaniel, that’s priceless! I think that whatever I do won’t be irresponsible (I hope!), but will most likely be a scary to some degree. I will!

    Susan: Excellent. Set out one for me, please?

    NTR: Throw back your head and howl!

    OAM: Yes, but it helps to recognize that one is in a tunnel to begin with. Thank you for the vote of confidence! :)

  22. Just wishing I wasn't already following you so I could be lucky #100

  23. Chris: Thank you. You could always stop and then restart once someone comes in...:)

  24. When this first began and I saw the "duck" and "dive", I immediately thought of the five rules of Dodgeball, 1.dodge, 2.duck, 3.dive, 4.dip and 5.dodge.

    I'm not sure why.

    Also, the jury's still out on Get on Your Boots. I just know how I feel about that one.

  25. Gumby! Great post!

    I'm all about the leap. Life's too short to always play it safe.

  26. Steenky: Dodgeball as existential crisis - I like it!

    RM: Thank you, m'lady! And you are spot on. Leaps have to be taken if we want to live. :)

  27. Hey Irish,

    I'm with Pearl on this one --you are such a gifted wordsmith, and the images are powerful. But a little worrying. Maybe the metaphors are a little of the old smoke and mirrors? (I've just grown to like you, that's all. Forgive me if I overstep)

  28. Powerful post...Frightening...but you can't look away. And great song choice...can't go wrong with U2

  29. Intense man. I'm with Vodka - pass me the bottle.
    You can be ready for anything..
    the power of positive thought.
    Cheesy but true.
    Good writing though.

  30. Yes, you SHOULD be writing! I swear there are so many great posts by dads who have been laid off, we should gather them all up and submit them to be published as a compilation.


  31. Vic: Thank you! *grin* Please don’t worry, it isn’t like I am hallucinating for real. More just the wandering of imagination, sort of like jazz riffing on idle thoughts that occur to me. And, no, you didn’t overstep! :)

    Thistle: Thank you. And that is a good way to put it!

    Belle: I’m all about the intense! I think of it as positive thinking tempered by the Universe being a rather cruel place sometimes. Thank you!

    CK: Wow, thanks very much! And that dad posts idea sounds GREAT. Let’s talk!


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...