31 December 2010

Miracle of the Clementine

I bought a box of sunshine late last week.  It is from Spain, and full of ripe clementines that have been keeping me going ever since.

I sat down all alone at the lunchroom table, late this past afternoon to take a break and clear my head.  The stress levels at work have been ratcheting up.  In combination with the cold, gray weather descending on the Queen City of the Patapsco Drainage Basin, the stress has been a real knockout.  Any opportunity to brighten the day or gain some breathing space is a welcome opportunity indeed.  Hence, the box of clementines: sunshine incarnate.

I had a clementine as my snack.  The act of peeling the fruit was a meditation on slow time, a celebration of having to be nowhere, doing nothing in particular, except existing in the moment.  The sweet citrus perfume that arose from the rind was heavenly.  I could feel my muscles relax, my heartbeat slow down, as I inhaled the wonderful aroma. 

As I ate the segments, one by one, slowly chewing and listening to the squeak of pulp on my teeth, I meditated on the idea of miracles.  The sweet juice trickled over my tongue and down my throat and as it did so I could not help but think I had just experienced a small miracle: that of the existence of the clementine. 

Such a small, seemingly ordinary thing may not seem a big deal in this age of so-called Reason and Big Science.  But to me, I found it fascinating and uplifting, and considered myself lucky to know that clementines exist, and even luckier to be able to eat one.  Biology and agriculture, chemistry and physics, yes, these are indeed great achievements of the human mind.  They may even explain a lot about clementines, how to grow them, take care of them, make money by selling them.  But none of them explain the why of clementines, their very existence.  Their existence is an amazing thing unto itself, far beyond reason or faith.

I don't necessarily need to believe in the Periodic Table or in a Divine Creator to understand that a clementine is a wonderful thing.  Sometimes, I don't want to trouble my head with reason or faith.  All I want to do is to sit quietly, peel the fruit and eat my way to bliss one miraculous segment at a time.  And that is good enough.

30 December 2010

I Don't Want to Do This Alone

And when that fog horn blows I will be coming home
And when the fog horn blows I want to hear it
I don't have to fear it
The wind blows hard outside, snow powder swirling around the eaves and across the porch.  There is no music tonight, a conscious decision to take a breather, let the gray matter cool off.  In the gaps between gusts, the rasp of leaves and ice strikes up the band with the tick and murmur of the radiators.  I knew this would happen, helped along by a finger of Bushmills Black Bush, and I give myself up to the music playing in my head.

And I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And magnificently we will flow into the mystic
I get it, Van.  I really do.  I mouth the words as I can remember hearing them on the radio and live by other people, and it puts another crack in the stone of my heart.  A duet needs two, and there is only me.

Lyrics from "Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison.  In case you really did not know.
P.S.: In a nice turn of events, I was published in Indie Ink today!  Please visit and drop some love!

29 December 2010

The Blizzard is a Conspiracy to Let the Terrorists Win. Really!

A long day here in the Republic of Gumbolia, culminating in a slow commute home to a turkey sandwich snarfed down in front of the tube.  Because I do not get a newspaper anymore, most of my news comes electronic form, and I have recently fallen back into the habit of skimming the television news while I eat dinner and decompress.

This troubles me.  Television, and its cousin the Internet, have a way of becoming a digital briar patch.  Filtering becomes critical when faced with information 'push', 24/7.  Effective filtering becomes increasingly difficult in proportion to the degree of weariness on my part.  Ergo, I too often get sucked in.

Or irritated.  The news has really been taking a bastard file to the raw ends of last nerves, yet I find myself too tired to stop watching.

Since I am very tired right now, I'll keep this rant short:

"Dear television news people:  please stop running feature stories on just important the holiday season is to retailers across America.  Sure, shopping is fun, but its just another business, and I don't live life waiting for the next big sale.  If the headline stories are to be believed, if retailers don't have a good (i.e. lots of money in the till) holiday, then life as we know it will crumble and we will have to live in the stone age or something.  And please, please, stop running continuous stories about how the recent horrible weather will have an negative effect on retailers, thereby leading to the stone age scenario again.  Here's a tip for you: money doesn't disappear just because a blizzard kept people from going to the mall, it only rests. Don't worry, it will be spent, one way or another.

Oh, and as far as bad weather ruining a day of shopping?  I think stories about strangers and neighbors braving the weather to take dialysis patients to treatment, or helping someone get food and heat, trump another puff piece about vacationers in Disney World complaining because they had to buy a jacket.  Enough already!

Thank you,

P.S.:  An occasional story about kittens or puppies romping in the snow would be nice."

Here endeth the rant.

28 December 2010

But True Happiness Comes With A Side of Mash

Sometimes, these things write themselves.  Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls and those undecided, I pass along to you The Secret, courtesy of g.oog.le targeted ads in my sidebar:


Perhaps I'll change my handle to Irish Bangers...

27 December 2010

she is my am.eric.an girl

Walking from kitchen to the next room,
the voice of an angel singing softly,
I turned the corner and my heart burst
into crystalline vapor in the Christmas air

North light through the windows, opaline grey,
the flower of my heart stood, singing,
a doll in her arms, held like a sibling
and I managed not to raise hand to heart

A nursery rhyme of unknown origin, cherub smile
to melt glaciers and split stone: I did not gasp
but stood, dumbfounded, to see such grace,
fighting the lump in my throat and tremor in my lips

She holds the doll tenderly, brushes a hair from its cheek
I chew the insides of my cheeks:  Please, my girl
never forget this, never forget such care, such bliss,
someday when you found your own dynasty

She sings, my composure slips its fragile leash,
the room blurs,  I find a space she cannot see,
will not know my heart has shattered, instantly,
refired in the kiln of her innocence

Dabbing at liquid eyes, towel between clenched teeth,
I hear her say "You are so pretty, the doll I always wanted"
knees near to buckling, overwhelmed by beauty:
I resolve to live forever.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I have to say, the above prose poem (is that a phrase?) is not yet the piece I wanted to write.  It is crude, unrefined, compared to that which was in my head and inspired me to write.  I want to try it again.  Writing it over might do it justice.  Then again. it might not.  This is the dilemma.  It is almost a certainty that there are no words, no matter how skilfully arranged, that could do justice to what I saw Christmas morning.  I am also glad I had no camera with me at the time; to stop and photograph that angelic countenance, in such a golden moment, seems to me to border on a minor blasphemy.  The look on her face, the softness of her voice as she sang...

If I could truly describe, dear readers, the glimpse of the divine that I was granted I think you would agree that words sometimes fall far short.  I am reminded of "High Flight",  a poem by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., the last line of which reads:

"...Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."

That poem is about a brush with the Divine in an entirely different setting, but it comes very close to what I mean.  Perhaps that is the essence of all genuinely moving experiences in life.  Words can bring us right to the edge, but in the end, we stand mute before Beauty.

26 December 2010

Crackerbox Reverie

The ghost of my maternal grandmother said hello to me on Christmas Eve.  It was right in the middle of the grocery store and I amazed that no one else heard her.  It was on the bottom shelf, on the cracker aisle, a bright red box asking me if I wanted some crackers.  Of course I said yes.

When I was a boy, the many visits to my G-maw's house were always a treat.  She always had some kind of snacks, ones that I liked, and she was generous in sharing them.  Brownies, cookies, crackers and even homemade chocolate candies during the holidays, or when the mood struck her to make them.  One of my favorite memories of childhood is of me perched on a stool at the counter between her kitchen and her living room, a big glass of iced tea (liberally laced with lemon juice) and two or three pecan sandies to munch on.  For some reason those cookies always tasted so much better in the summer time, washed down with that iced tea poured from a chipped enameled pitcher she kept in the refrigerator.

I still have the buttery, nut crunch combined with a slight grittiness, on my tongue to this day.

I remembered those cookies for years after I got older, had fewer visits with G-maw and then went off to college.  I think I even got a few boxes in some care packages I received while I was away at school.  Once I moved away out of state, though, I don't recall having purchased another box in all that time.  At least not for years, anyway.

I kept that memory.  Or should I say, it kept me.

It was a little surprising for me, this past Christmas Eve, when I stumbled across the crackers at the grocery store.  They were the kind that G-maw always seemed to have on hand, and ones that I scarfed down in probably greater quantities than the cookies.  They weren't the same ones my parents would buy, although those were good as well.  In fact, it had been my tendency as an adult to buy the same brand of crackers that I ate at home as a kid.

But it was G-maw's crackers that stayed in my mind, somewhere in there with a shipload of memories.  On Christmas Eve in the grocery store, I saw that bright red box, for the first time in years.  I did a double take.  I wasn't quite sure I was seeing what I thought I saw.  I stopped the cart and went back to look at them.  Sure enough, it the same ones.  I picked up a box, and immediately felt myself standing in G-maw's kitchen,  glass of tea in one hand and a stack of crackers in the other.  She smiled at me and turned to put the box back in the cabinet...

...and I blinked myself back into the present, surrounded by the rush and clatter of the store.  I realized I was grinning, for no other reason than a humble box of crackers had just taken me home.

Later that afternoon, after I had brought my daughter home with me for the Christmas weekend, I realized I might have a small hurdle to cross.  The Wee Lass is particular about her juice and snacks.  Not just anything will do.  She once refused to drink some apple juice because it was the kind that came in the yellow box, and not the green box, and "it tasted weird", in her opinion.  Her cracker preferences had always paralleled mine, by dint of habit and my control of the grocery shopping.  But here I was, possessed of a crackers in a red box, and not the white and blue box.  I was uncertain if she would like them, as I had when I was small.

I needn't have worried.  She asked for crackers to snack upon, as was her usual custom, so I put some in a bowl and handed them over.  About the time she bit into one, I was crunching my way through a cracker myself.  The taste was memory, years rolling back and summers revisited.  Humble, in no way extravagant, and so very good.

Wee Lass sat at her princess table, contentedly munching and watching television, as happy as I think I used to be in G-maw's kitchen.  Standing in the archway into my kitchen, watching my daughter eat, I heard a noise behind me that sounded like G-maw's chuckle, followed by the soft clack of a cabinet door shutting.  My pantry, my heart, became full.

24 December 2010

Winter Poetry Slam: Patuxent River Meditation #7

I sigh, Luna smiles,
Ice mumbles among the rocks.
Laughter, awaiting dawn.

23 December 2010

Winter Poetry Slam: Patuxent River Meditation #6

Green scent of pine boughs,
Motley lights cradled, sparkling,
waiting for her love

22 December 2010

Winter Poetry Slam: Patuxent River Meditation #5

Venus overhead,
heart rising, fumes of the glass,
Winter toasts her name

21 December 2010

Blogjam: Redux

 (Author's note: This post was supposed to up after the other Blogjam piece.  I was gobsmacked by the photo, so I ran that instead.  It's all cut from the same cloth, though, so hang with me...because I don't want to hang by myself!)

I apologize, dear ones, for the interruption in my Winter Poetry Slam, but a Muse of a different sort has taken the reins, and I cannot still my tongue.

'Zounds, I must be channeling an Elizabethan libertine.

Not really.  But I cannot escape this fascination with formal language, even when I want or need to swear.  And I need to swear a lot.  Or I think I need to swear a lot.  Feckin' language...

Yestereve, I wrote of the unbloggable.  Judas Priest, is that even a word?  Does it matter? Do you care?  I'm not sure I do.  I suppose I should.  After all, I am the Great Pretender when it comes to language and the written word.  The basic problem is that I loathed the study of English when I was a younger Gumbo, enmeshed in the tentacles of 'Publick Education, for the bettrement for the younge minds of our Society'...

I hated rules, I guess, even though you have to know what the rules are before you can break them.  I guess I felt in my heart, although I had not the courage to say so, that I did not want to follow rules.

So, where was I?  Oh, yes, unbloggable.  Things are still at that point.  To borrow from the military, the situation on the ground remains the same.  The difference tonight, dear readers, is that I have had an adjustment in perspective, courtesy of some friends and their lives, topped off with a good libation.

Does this solve their/my immediate problems? No, of course not.  What it does do is bring me up short, pulls me back from the precipice, and gives me some time to catch my breath.  Every time I have the good fortune to have someone share with me that which makes them human,  I am by turns mystified and gratified.  I have not often felt that I am human enough to truly "get" other people, but this state of affairs has become increasingly rare as of late.  For that I am also grateful.

Was it Woody Allen who said that "90% of life is just showing up"?  Much truth in that.   I have become increasingly interested in it as of late.  It helps me feel human.  It helps me understand people, something at which I have never excelled, at least in an emotional sense.

Am I making sense?  I hope so.  Even if I am not, I hope you find this of value.  After all, what I write here, in this state of unbloggability, is nothing less than an honest attempt to confirm my membership in the human race.  Whether I like it or not, that is something I want and need.  It is a major motivation for me to keep this blog alive.

I apologize for being so obtuse and elliptical.  This fullness of heart is new, strange and wonderful for me.  Eventually, my big head will get itself around the idea that I am okay with the notion of being...human.

19 December 2010



To borrow the term from my bloggy friend only a movie, on whose blog I first saw it, I have to say things are near to that state in the People's Republic of Gumbolia.  Unbloggable.  Give it a space (Un Bloggable) and it looks like something important from a language other than English, a language in which I wish I was fluent.

It is an odd state of affairs for me, to be in a position where I can't seem to, or maybe don't want to, write out what is going in my head.  I pride myself on words and phrases, but just now: blogjam.  It feels like I am at the bottom of a waterfall, and the deluge will not let up, and it is carrying rocks and logs, and the occasional fish.  All of these, with velocity most overwhelming.

I can't tell the cause.  It could be any number of things: fatigue, fear, cowardice, anxiety, the season.  Or simply an inability to find the words that can say what needs to be said.  Assuming, of course, that I truly have something to say.  This I also do not know.

I want to say...but I can't.
I want to understand...but I don't.
I want to be brave...but I'm not, not now.

Words usually give me courage,  but they escape me at the moment.  Is this how the sculptor feels when he picks up the mallet and chisel, only to find his heart won't let him swing his arm?

I don't know.  What I do know is that I need to find a way to get my voice back.  I held things in for too long, for years, and I'm paying the price for that silence.  This, my current silence, cannot last.  It simply cannot.

But I don't know what to say.

18 December 2010

Winter Poetry Slam: Patuxent River Meditation #4

Stiff leaves kiss my feet,
water caressing stones, shh!
a voice I once knew

17 December 2010

Winter Poetry Slam: Patuxent River Meditation #3

Rising Lucifer
shines the river silver-black.
I awake, in frost.

16 December 2010

15 December 2010

Winter Poetry Slam: Patuxent River Meditation #1

Breath fogging the glass,
Her name, mist before the sun
Heart contracts, shatters

14 December 2010

Music Lesson

Oh, Lou- I'd like to let you know that I do not feel welcome.
All the birds, the trees, the falling snow
No they were not made for me.
And all this is where her heart resides; we met in California
She saw cities, promise reaching through my eyes
And she turned her self away
With the weather here being cold and wet, and conducive to keenly felt melancholy, I was all set to park myself at the keyboard this night and bang out a finely crafted paean to being adrift.  I made one mistake.  I listened to the song that produced the above lyrics.  The title is "That Western Skyline" by Dawes.  It a great song and a master class in rich, deep storytelling.  Yet they do it with an economy of means that leaves me astounded.  Like 'jaw-on-the-ground' astounded.  No, no, make that 'head-on-the-table' astounded.  This song had me in tears, face in my hands, because it was so heart-breakingly beautiful.

All because of one simple lyric.
Well how I curse that western skyline.
And yet I thanked it for my start.
Oh Lou, no my dreams did not come true; no they only came apart.
Oh, lawd...one line, twelve ordinary words...but what a punch.  How is this possible?  What is it they are channeling?  I have on occasion produced some powerful and provocative sentences (or at least I hope I have!), usually with bigger or more numerous words.  Yet I think I have only scratched the surface where Dawes has sunk a whole damn mineshaft into the broken heart.

The song revolves around that pithy gem.  The rest of the story speaks to leaving some important things behind in search of love, maybe home or even the 'who' a person used to be, only to find that love unrequited.  It is truly a hell of a thing to go that far out on a limb, only to discover it has been sawed off behind you.
So I followed her here to Birmingham, where the soil is so much richer
And though my aching pride might guide my hand, she did not ask for me to come.
So I wait for her all through the day, as if I wait for her surrender.
And every time I get her to look my way, she says I'm not where I belong.

But I watch her father preach on Sundays.
I know the hymnals all by heart.
But oh, Lou, no my dreams did not come true; no they only came apart.
I listened to the song three times in a row.  I could not tear myself away from it.

So I hope you understand that I could not bring myself to write the story I was going to write.  Not after that, no.  I reckon it will have to wait for another day, when the weather is better and I'm not sitting at the dining table and staring at the Christmas lights that illuminate my empty living room.  I need to meditate on stitching dreams back together, and that may take a while.

Listen and learn:

13 December 2010

The GoodFather Clause

Sometimes, nice things just arrive out of the blue, catching me completely by surprise.  Like this weekend, when I received a gift most cool, from this righteous dude, Jeff at GoodFatherBlog.  He took a shine to my post of last Saturday, "On Not Reading Books, Occasionally" and decided it warranted some recognition.  To wit, I am humbled and honored to be the first recipient of the GoodFatherBlog Seal of Approval:

I don't need no Good Housekeeping or UL Listing...I've got the GF seal!

Thank you, GoodFather!  Truly a great way to start off the week.  So please drop by Jeff's place (link above) and drop some luv.  Tell Jeff that Gumbo sent you, and that's gets you a digital coupon for 20% more good karma!

12 December 2010

Every Light My Love

"Pine or fir?" following her eyes
Then she looked at me to say
"Pick the one you like" and smiled
So fir it was, on top of the car

Rode home with windows open,
Just a bit with cords stretched taut
While she sang doggerel, softly,
sanding down the edges of my soul

Electric jewels strung across green tips
Porcelain doll hands carefully place an orb,
as if she were hanging up my heart;
She likes it, pronounces it "Pretty",

and I pronounce it Love.

11 December 2010

On Not Reading Books, Occasionally

She's good at it, you know.  Persuasion, that is.  With me the willing victim, always falling before the power of those blue eyes and that sweet voice.  Especially when she says "Please?"

It came down to a choice.  A regular occurrence when she is with me: "Do you want to do this or that?  We won't have time to do both", I intone in a voice not serious enough by half, "So pick one."  She does, as always, but not without a half-dozen or so flip-flops in the space of a minute.  This time she picked the television show over the books.  I was only a little disappointed.  The show she wanted to watch was "Chopped", on the Food Network.

This was nirvana, after a barrage of Spongebob and iCarly.  To her credit, she asked me to change the channel when "Big Time Rush" came on.  Perhaps the ad hoc music indoctrination, er...lessons...I have been impressing upon her are beginning to pay off.

She pulled the comforter off her bed and brought it to the couch, saying she was chilly.  She unfurled it as best she could and asked me if I wanted to stay warm, and I did, so the end of the comforter was mine to share.  She wrapped herself up and settled in for the show.

I was struck by how interested she was in the subject.  She asked me what the ingredients were, did people really eat deer, what do yams have to do with dessert.  I was alternately amused and distracted by her questions and comments.  She even did some critique of one or two dishes, saying that "Keith should win, because they said he was more creative.  Daddy, why did he put marshmallows in the chicken?* That doesn't sound very good".

She watched with interest as the episode unfolded, as did I.  It was fascinating to see her level of interest, even willing to forgo reading books before bedtime, for the sake of seeing who would win.  She fought off drowsiness, and she did make it to the end.  She seemed pleased to have seen the winner.  Yawns were yawned, eyes were drooping shut.  I had feared a bit of a scene ("Please, just one book!") but she was true to her word, and went to bed without a fuss.  I turned out the light, and said "I love you, sweet pea".

From under the covers, her muffled voice drifted back.  "I love you, too, daddy."

For the first time in years, having spent an hour or so watching television didn't seem like a waste of time at all.

*Yes, there were marshmallows, and it was turkey, not chicken.  But she asked a good question.  I couldn't find a good explanation on the FN site, but maybe this link might help.

10 December 2010

My Daughter She Done Told Me: A Clarification

Oh, my.  I am behind, dear readers, on my reading and my writin'.  Due to a flood of work and school and personal commitments, I haven't been able to keep up with the world beyond my shoulders.  I haven't been able to respond as promptly to the many wonderful comments I have received on the Gumbo recently, and I want everyone to know I'm very grateful for the kind words and some cool links that folks have been leaving for me.  If I haven't gotten back to some of you, it's only because I'm swimming upstream as fast as I can, but life is like drinking from a fire hose sometimes.  Whew.

One thing I did want to clarify, from yesterday's post.  I see now that I may have inadvertently created some concern amongst some folks, based on the passages referencing bottles and pills.  Please know that the post had its roots in the temptation to reach for such things, and trying to come to terms with it.  I  generally avoid self-medication, I've seen the terrible consequences, and even though some might disagree, I am smart enough to stay away from such things.  They aren't much of a short-term strategy, and they sure as hell don't qualify as a long-term solution.

Besides, a daughter's gifts give me all the reason in the world to treat myself right, something I remind myself of almost every day.

And now, apropos of nothing, just because I feel it, I leave you with the following video, "Father's Son" by Fistful of Mercy.  Clap your hands and give me some testimony!

09 December 2010

Starry, Starry Night, with Friends

'Whatever gets you through the night' the song says, 'is alright' yet I can't help but wonder if that is true.  The presumption is that one has something to get one through the night.  What if there is nothing, or no one?  What if the only solution is a bottle or a pill?

Progress has made it so easy to find a fix, nearly always within arms reach.  This may be a problem in and of itself.  Why figure it out inside, why listen to the body, when all you need to do is open your mouth and swallow?

really, why?

Sometimes, alas, it may be the only way to get through a tight spot.  This lies uneasy on the mind, especially one that is dulled by lack of rest.  Not just sleep, rest.  Rest, the forgotten country.

I thought of this tonight as I drove home from class, under a clear sky and cold to ache the bones.  I watched the lights shining through the trees bare of leaves.  A diamond necklace, twinkling and civilized, and choking the life out of life.  To see so many lights reminds  me that the season has changed, leaves are down and the trees are showing their bones to the sky.

I am also reminded of how long it has been since I have walked in the woods.  I felt the river calling to me, and the rocks and leaves.  They wondered where I have been, and I told them I been away, trying to keep up with life.

They laughed, and reminded me that they are life, and that I can rest with them.

This I could not refute, and if I had more fortitude (and a sleeping bag) I would have walked down by the river, and slept on the bank.  The earth, the water, the rocks and the sky: get me through the night, please.

If only.  Right now, I have as my companions two small stuffed animals, bequeathed upon me by my thoughtful and wonderful daughter.  She hand picked "Mr. Eagle" (stuffed eagle that, when squeezed, emits the call of a bald eagle) and 'Ballou' from "The Jungle Book".  Wee Lass even carefully placed them next to the pillows on the other side of the bed, so they could watch over me as I sleep.

Tonight, as always, I am grateful for their company.

08 December 2010

On The Hook

Moment of enlightenment
comes when the hook is set,
you on it, no matter what.

07 December 2010

Vena Cava Syndrome: Elegy

Awakening in the night, or is it dawn?
I used to know time from your slow breaths
and warm flank under my palm
The only clock I needed

Now i don't know, it's just dark
but the flush on my face
a Pemberton's sign, limning
a mass in the path to my heart

I raise my arms from under covers
Blood waves in the wetlands of my soul,
Salt reek and slick cheeks faintly glow
I whisper your name, and weep.

06 December 2010

Thin Side of the Sea

Dance of Moon and Sun
playful chase of giants
unaware of plankton me

Delta between neap and spring,
I swim, frantic, to not be caught
always on the thin side of the sea

05 December 2010

Nightfishing in the Mare Cerebrum

I wonder sometimes, what will come out of the depths of my head.  I worry, occasionally.  It's dark down there in the caves.  Not much room in some places, all those ideas crammed together, piled on the floor and dripping from the ceiling.  Assuming there is a ceiling.  It doesn't feel like it when all alone in the murk and the batteries just ran out.

I liken this exploration of my head to net fishing in a subterranean river, with only a feeble and shaky miner's lamp for illumination.  The water rushes by, mostly unseen, while I stand in it thigh-deep and shivering.  The lamp casts only a small circle of light around me.  It often feels more a nuisance than a help.  Just enough light to see by, but not enough to see really far.  It also attracts...things...from the Stygian dark surrounding my little island of light.

Big things.  Scary things.  Things with fangs and slime.

I've never been comfortable in water through which I cannot see.  I'm fearful of what it might hide, of the terrors that might sneak up on me.  Yet I have no choice but to cast my nets, over and over, to haul in whatever may fall into the strands.  I run the risks because every now and then, the net captures good things.

Shiny things.  Golden things.  Things made of love and heart.

I'm learning to whistle, down there in the dark.  When the mood strikes, I sing, and the nasty things with teeth retract their claws while retreating back into the gloom.  They may terrify me...but sometimes, I confound and trouble them.

So tell me, what's in your psyche?

04 December 2010

Awake in Tierra del Fuego

It wasn't bad  pizza what made me start writing tonight, nor was it a virus, or too much alcohol (or any alcohol, for that matter).  This probably isn't my Jerry Maguire moment, supposing I ever have one of those.  No, really, this is the result, I think, maybe...

...see, I can't even pull the trigger on that thought.  'Cause apparently I have commitment issues.  Or something like that.  And I write a lot like I often talk.  In short, choppy disjointed sentences.  With odd punctuation.

So the problem is maybe the way I think.  My thoughts are like ball bearings rolling down a billion narrow tracks placed side by side on a shaker table, which itself is randomly whacked causing the bearings to jump their tracks and start all over again.

Gahhh.  Scrap that.  I don't like the machine analogy.  I am not a machine, although I sometimes feel like one.  A tired, stressed out machine about to be replaced by the next generation of shiny, noisy things.  They may not be better, but they look better, and therein lies the rub.  I may have the content, not sure I have the form.  My surface, maybe it ain't so shiny.

So there I go again, off on another tangent which barely makes sense to me.  If it doesn't make sense to me, I can't expect it to make sense to you, dear readers (to whom I'm very grateful that you've stuck it out this far).  Analogy, analogy, I'm looking for an analogy.  Or is it a metaphor?  A simile?  Gahhh, again.  See?  Distracted by my own self, or the shiny things that are my thoughts.

Crows.  My thoughts are like crows.  Bright, clever but so easily distracted.

This rambling edifice is the result of being tired and run-down.  "Shagged out from a long squawk" to borrow from Monty Python.  The stresses and strains of the week have taken the starch out of me, and tonight for the first time in a long time I laid down on the couch after eating alone (again) at my neighborhood tavern, and channel surfed the television.  Watching things about which I either cared too little or cared too much.  I melted into the couch cushions.  My eyes absorbed food porn and real-world obscenity, and suddenly I was off my feed.  Two sides of a very disturbing coin.

I gave up, eventually.  Watching stories about people stuffing their faces and about humans killing each other for the sake of flag and religion, well, it was too much.  I laid back on the couch and fidgeted with my camera, thinking I would take a picture of myself and use it as source material for a Really Intense Post about the life of a would-be Artist...and I did take some pictures of myself and the view from the couch.  But I don't know if I'll share any of those.  The notion took on some absurdity as I scrolled through the pictures I still haven't downloaded from the past week or so.  A strange melange of my daughter, an aunt of mine, and scenes from the church of my boyhood.

The images of my blood and kin, of the cross, of the stained glass panels aglow with afternoon sun...an intensity of emotions I am at a loss to describe.  I sat and stared at these images, scrolling back and forth, zooming in and out, while the radiators creaked and popped in little echoes resounding through the barren temple of my house.  Friday night, and a payday, and what am I doing?  Laying on the couch, wondering just how I got here, and analyzing the best angle to create a weird photo of the ceiling fan in my living/dining room.

I am attempting to surround myself with artifacts that mean something to me on a deep personal level.  I have a start with three big framed prints of mine, but it isn't enough.  The three prints only serve to highlight just how much room there is left to fill.  The echoes of the radiator gain amplitude in the remaining emptiness, a feeling only intensified when I look at the images on my camera, tiny pictures of a big lonely head.

It's cold here tonight, with the possibility of snow flurries.  Perhaps it is time to turn in, gather the blankets around and keep in the heat.  Yes, it is time.  I'd better get to it, because if I'm still awake when the next train horn blows, I may just jump in my car and drive to Tierra del Fuego.

03 December 2010

Happy Friday: The Nice Files

Let's just get it out there that this week has been a stinker.  Not catastrophic, not my-house-just-fell-into-a-volcano kind of bad, but a stinker all the same.  A big, greasy wurst of Too much to do, wrapped in a charred pastry Blanket of Angst, topped off with a nasty dollop of Too Many Bills.  Oh, and I was going to be home later than usual.  So it is safe to say that I was all prepared to get home, change into my sweatpants and hide under the pillows on my bed.

Fortunately, there was an alternative waiting for me, times two.

NICE THING #1:  The tea I ordered a week ago, shipped the cheap, slooooow way, finally arrived and was perched on my doorstep.  Hooray!  I likes me some India black tea, of the Assam lineage, and now I have fresh malty/smoky/brisky to warm me up these chilly mornings.

EVEN NICER THING #2:  Earlier this month, I commented on this post by Unmitigated, and made a remark about a book in the background of the photo.  Well, to my pleasant surprise, the lurvely and thoughtful Mary replied to my comment and offered to send me the book if I would read it.  So today, in my mailbox, was the package containing the book*.  How about THAT, dear ones?  That is all kinds of nice, and that made my day.  In New Orleans, they would call that a 'lagniappe', a little something extra, which warms the heart.  If you can, drop by her place and say hello.  Thanks, Mary!

*"The Dymaxion World of Buckminster Fuller" in case you wanted to know.  Yeah, yeah, I'm a geek. 

02 December 2010

El Tigre

The jaguar is the most feared and respected big cat in the Western hemisphere, according to some.  To be expected, I suppose, given that the jaguar has an incredibly powerful bite, is extremely fast and very lethal to its prey.  The jaguar, it is said, seldom goes hungry.

Jaguars are elusive.  They are hard to find, difficult to track.  There is a lot that isn't known about jaguars.  Maybe this is as it should be.  Maybe dangerous beauty isn't meant to be completely understood.  Yet know them we must, if they are to survive the insensate appetites of man.  So we keep studying, chasing, tracking.

In my more mytho-poetic moments, I feel el Tigre is my spirit brother from another mother.  I feel the jaguar, understand it, want to be in its skin.  Most days, though, I can only admire from afar, knowing that I have miles to go to match the power, vitality and mystery of the jaguar.  Maybe I never will, but find myself not wanting to give up.  I will probably go hungry more often than the jaguar would, I'm not so fast or powerful.  Still, I will hunt.  Someday, I will hold the keys to the spirit world, just like them.

Image from Wikimedia.org

01 December 2010

Living the Dino Lif

A damp, gray day and warm for the season to boot.  It put a twist in my drawers and a pall on my demeanor, which spilled into the workday.  Today was a headphones-on-more-than-off kind of day.  The only thing that could have put the cap on it would have been to walk around with a lemon wedge in my mouth.

Her Majesty's evening swim class was cut short because one of the toddlers had a "bathroom incident" in the pool, so everyone had to exit and the pool was shut down for cleaning.  Poop in pool = total buzzkill + hilarity for the Lass.  To her credit, she did acknowledge that it was "gross".

"Soulshine" by Government Mule was playing on the radio when I arrived back at the Casa del Gumbo, and it put me further into the funk than I already was.  Pensive and soul-searching wasn't what I was in the mood to hear.  I was gearing up to write it all out, get the cynical and jaded pollution from my head to clear it.  I was thinking how I fall into that trap too often, seduced by the dark side, and how I was tired of being a grown-up.

Good thing I saw the picture.  Heh.

It has been sitting on my kitchen counter for about a week or so.  Wee Lass drew it for me as a gift, of her own accord.  It is of a happy little dinosaur, cheerily munching on what looks like carrot-shaped tree with a single large leaf at the top.  Overhead, a pale yellow sun shines down as a butterfly the size of a condor flies above the dinosaur.  At the top left hand corner is a title, scrawled in that unmistakable penmanship of one who is just learning to write.  It says "The Dino lif", and Wee Lass assures me that it does mean "The Dino Life", missing 'e' notwithstanding.

It makes me smile.  I forget, even for only a little while, about the crappy day and malaise and the cynical, corrosive air we often breathe as adults.

I sat down on the couch, with a glass of tea, and resolved to more often "live the Dino lif".  And I won't even worry about that missing 'e'.