30 June 2010

I Didn't Get No Cheese

Tony Hayward.
Joe Barton.
John Boehner.


I held out as long as I could. But this did me in:

Sharron, I must be fresh as a daisy, because I'm not feeling rotten.
At least, not in the way you said it.


I leave them with this little ditty, circa 1983:

Block of cheese, anyone? Quick, before it spoils!

29 June 2010

Sleeps With Eagles

I go to bed each night with a stuffed toy. Don't laugh, its true. His name is Mr. Eagle, my boon companion since I moved into the new house.

Mr. Eagle likes sesame seeds and fish bagels, which he prefers every morning for breakfast. He prefers some privacy while he bathes. If you squeeze his tummy, he emits the tell-tale call of the bald eagle crying out to its young, or signaling to others. Other than that, Mr. Eagle is very quiet, as befits any creature that has taken up residence in the bedroom. He is the strong silent type. 

His beak is bright yellow, and sharp. As sharp as can be expected from a plush toy, anyway. His eyes are black, and ever unblinking. He has white head feathers, surrounded by a magnificent ruff of downy plumage. It makes him look fierce, and somewhat larger than his actual size of approximately six inches high. His talons are blunt (again, the plushness) but highly visible. This serves as a warning, perhaps, to any would-be intruders or assailants who dare disturb me while I slumber.

This deterrence is a good thing. Mr. Eagle, you see, is my protector.

How do I know this? Simple. My daughter told me so. I take Her Majesty's pronouncements quite seriously when they are as solemnly delivered as the one wherein she bequeathed Mr. Eagle to me. It was around the first time she stayed with me after the move. When it came time to start readying her stuff to return to her mother's house, I was feeling a little down and she asked me what was wrong. I told her that I was a little sad to see her go, and it made me feel lonely. 

Wee Lass looked at me with those stained glass eyes, and handed me Mr. Eagle. "Keep him, daddy," she said, "and put him in your bedroom while you sleep. When you see him, you can think of me and you won't be lonely". She later told me that he would protect me. I thanked her, and carefully placed Mr. Eagle on the other side of the bed, propped up against the pillows.

I didn't have the heart to tell her how a stuffed toy won't really push back the great gray walls of loneliness. It won't really comfort you when you wake up from another anxiety dream clutching at air and cursing the suffocating dark. It won't really keep the wolves from the door.

Then again, when I turn out the light, I always reach over and make sure Mr. Eagle is sitting upright...you just never know when something dangerous might come through the door. But I know if it does, I won't be totally on my own. Mr. Eagle, he's got my back. Wee Lass, she's got my heart. Together, we push back hard against those great gray walls.

26 June 2010

One of My Favorite Things

It has been a little heavy here of late, I know. Just so you know it isn't a total drag, I bring you this little gem:

I have some good Irish butter, too...

25 June 2010

Dog Day Burn

River and sea collide
meeting on the porch
Hot as the hell inside
me, soaked and wrung

I rest my eyes,
fireflies hover and float
Little light reminders of
faded glow in my heart

People say, Get a dog
adopt a cat, (bitter laugh)
Dogs don't say I love you
cats aren't arms of a woman

No matter, sticks thrown
or jingly balls tossed,
Jaws fetching and tugging
won't retrieve a broken heart,

when goodbye is a dirty word.

23 June 2010

A Joyful Noise...I Wish!

Do you ever find yourself wishing you could do something you cannot do, and do it well? Wishing it so much it gets to the point of obsession because you think about it so much?

I do. I've got it bad right now. Aside from jonesin' for PHOTOGRAPHY these days, I also really, really wish I could sing. Seriously. I don't need to be a virtuoso, I would just like to be able to hit the notes well enough. Why, you ask, do I want to sing?

Damned if I know. I just do.

I suspect it has to do with the creative impulse, and the inability or unwillingness to ignore those voices in my head and heart that say I must, or that I should at least try. The problem with singing is that I have no talent. No real talent, anyway. I can on on occasion sound like I can sing. I can do a credible imitation of Metallica's James Hetfield* when I set my mind to it, and I do enjoy that. Sometimes, I can sound like Johnny Cash on his cover of "Sea of Heartbreak". Actually, I don't know if I sound like Johnny Cash so much as I can almost harmonize with him on the chorus. Plus, I usually do that while driving, and the road noise covers up a lot of the flaws I'm sure.

This does not mean I want to do karaoke, an entertainment for some that I just do not get. The very thought of singing karaoke-style, on purpose (like in some sort of misguided team-building exercise, or after a heavy dose of liquid courage) makes me cringe. Any sort of overt public performance also has always been anathema to me. In high school, once, I took an 'F' grade rather than get up in front of class and recite a memorized speech, with memorable results**. Even to this day, I abhor the thought of public speaking, although I've had to do it in limited form as part of my (former) job.

So why the obsession, the singing badly, loudly but with gusto when no one else is around?*** I return to the creative impulse. Writing, photography, singing...any creative endeavor seeking manifestation eventually wants to express itself, and that means exposure and vulnerability, both things I typically avoid. But lately, things have been wanting to get out, working their way to the surface. I still don't want to be vulnerable, I don't want to be rejected...yet true and honest expression requires risk. 

I think writing opened the gate a bit, photography pushed the thing wider, and I realized that it doesn't matter if I can't really sing. I'm not going to be a professional singer, anyway, so I should sing primarily because it makes me happy...similar in effects to the writing and photos.

The saying goes "Dance like nobody's watching" so I suppose the corollary is "Sing like no one is listening". It is a good lesson for life, I finally realized, because it can take me out of myself and learn to enjoy the act of creation simply because...that's all, simply, because. It helps shed the fear engendered by self-consciousness and allows the creative mind some room to grow. It helps me stop thinking so much about myself, paralyzed by the fear of error and too timid to show myself. This is all good, my heart gets it, even if my mind hasn't quite embraced the concept.

So these days, I've been listening and I've been thinking, and here are a few songs I wish I could sing:

"Fuel" - Metallica
"Unsung" - Helmet
"Sea of Heartbreak" - inspired by Johnny Cash
"Oh, Darling!" - The Beatles
"Gasoline" - The Airborne Toxic Event
"Hard to Handle" - Otis Redding (with a nod to The Black Crowes)
"Feels Like Rain" - John Hiatt (with a nod to Robbie Schaefer)

No particular order there, and I suppose it doesn't matter. All I can hope is that I can keep singing, pushing away the fear of my self and of being alone, holding out until I can find at least an audience of one.

*James Hetfield himself once described his singing as "yelling on key", something I'd like to do. I can growl like him sometimes.
**A post for another time, dear friends.
***I have discovered that I can embarrass Wee Lass, if I sing a certain way. She sometimes gives me the stink-eye and says "Daaaaa--aady, stop singing that way!" Okay, dear, but just wait until high school, hehheh...

15 June 2010

Beach Glass

For all that the waves roll in, it is so quiet here. You know that? I do. This silence, or vacuum or what-shall-we-call-it...neglect is too strong a word. It comes close, and I would find another word, but I'm tired and too lazy to get off the couch and get my thesaurus.

I have left this garden untended for what seems a long time. I see the link for it on my computer screen, but lately I have rarely felt the motivation to click on it. This is for a lot of reasons, foremost of which I have felt little in the way of needing to write.

It is true: I haven't felt like writing. This is a disturbing state of affairs, for me.

The flow of ideas has lessened a little, but is still there. I have not managed to put them to paper (or electrons). It is not writer's block, so much as a problem of mojo.

My mojo hath fled. It didn't storm out of the house, cursing and flipping me the bird, to drive off in a screech of tires and haze of dust. No, it faded away like a slow leak in the tires. I knew something was going on because I could hear that funny noise in my head, akin to the one that tires low on pressure make when driving at highway speeds. WahWahWahWahWah...My solution was to turn up the radio and keep driving, hoping nothing else would go wrong.

All of this came back to me this evening as I strolled through my new neighborhood. I had that "wellhowdidIgethere?" moment again. Past flowerbeds and streetlights and lawn furniture and mailboxes...I was overcome with lassitude. I would have said ennui, but I don't know if I was bored, exactly, as part of all this non-feeling.

Non-feeling. Not as in numb, but as in an absence of feeling. I was tired, under the weight of loneliness and anxiety, probably brought on by job-hunting activities which had absorbed my afternoon and early evening. There came a point where I decided on the walk as a self-defense measure. Unplug, disconnect, not think, just do.

It all came back to me in a rush as I returned home, and it was the fault of the mailbox. My mailbox is mounted on a post. The post, in turn is embedded in a large flower pot, more like a small barrel. As I paused at the gate, I looked over at the mailbox and it hit me that I have been in my new house for nearly two months...and I have not yet changed the name on the sides to mine.

I stood there in a daze, not outwardly seeming any different. Inside, however, I felt myself collapse a little, hollowed out by all the losses I have incurred in the past months. Job. Marriage. Friendship. Brother. Money. Money. Job (again). Peace of mind. I thought back to the resume and small portfolio I had sent out earlier, how much it took out of me to do it.

I never, ever thought I would be saying anything like what went through my head at that moment: I'm getting too old for this crap. And I am. Chronologically, most folks would say I am in mid-life, and would say that perhaps the best is yet to come. I hope so.

Standing there with my hand on the gate, feeling dizzy and tired, I knew it in my bones. I am getting too old for this crap. I lack the energy and naivete of my younger self, and reality has been too dynamic. The Year of the Tiger is taking the starch out of me, and subsequently taking the starch out of my writing. The Tiger is feasting on my mojo.

If life is a beach, as the slogan says, then I am glass tumbling in the surf. Pounded and abraded, never resting, I roll back and forth in the water. I can only hope that loving hands will pick me up and take me home, to be turned into art. If not a work of art, then at least placed in a sturdy bowl with the other beach glass, the iridescent fragments of a fractured life.

09 June 2010

The Turning of the Spit

Is it hot in here, or is it just me? Ow, Ow, OW!

A Gumbo Public Service Announcement for everyone: I am about to get roasted! Former ambulance man and current bon vivant Eddie Bluelights at Clouds and Silvery Linings has cajoled me into lashing myself to the spit for his Sunday Roast feature. I fully give Eddie his props, because you know how difficult (if not impossible) it is to put gumbo on a stick...but he did, so there I will be! 

Please set your reminders, the Roast goes on the fire this Saturday, June 12th at 10 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time, which I believe is 6 a.m. Eastern time in the US. I think. Ah, Google it...time befuddles me, often.

This is a real treat for me, because have you seen the list of past Roastees? Some fine company, indeed. I was delighted and honored to be asked, and I hope you can drop in for some roasted gumbo!

In other news, it hit me today that my previous post HERE was my 400th post. How in the world did that happen? Whew!

04 June 2010

Hank Williams, Bongo and Me

Packing boxes with flotsam
and jetsam of another job gone south
phone rings like an angry bee
"He's had another one, calling the vet"

Steel guitar, mournful cry of lonesome
Last box goes in the car,
Professional dreams slumped over
in a passenger seat of sighs

Short goodbyes, shaking hands
and compliments with such flair
the hype was easy to swallow
Smiling and sinking in tandem

Out the door under a lowering sky
the melancholy cap pulled over furrowed brow
Wondering if its possible to write a song
Anymore, that isn't a bucket of sorrow

On the highway, screaming along to the radio
Filling up on another's artificial fuel
But inside, wondering if its possible
To write a country song without whiskey

Saying goodbye to an old friend
hands on the wheel, heart in the mouth
Knowing that its deep country
When everyday is just another parting

R.I.P. Bongo, our kitty with a 'tude. 20 years was a good run. May you find that spot in the sun.