A Flower Called Impatient

August 31, 2006 at 11:05 PM | Posted in Personal | 5 Comments
I look at the clock every hour
and only five minutes has past
fraught with worry and fear and impatience
and still yet fear again as I wait
Biding my time, I think not
I think it bides me, and mocks as well
Oh cruel time, and the clock who sings thee–
Dost thou desire to have thine ass kicked?
I’m losing my patience with you, time
Relative or not, you certainly are no friend of mine.
I need you to go faster, not slower
I need tomorrow here now.
Can’t we just, for once, skip tonight? 
In fact, you can make it up tomorrow,
And have an extra long night..
  How about that?
How does that sound?  I’m willing to bargain,
And you should come to the table prepared
To make a deal.
Come on, time–cut me some slack
Can’t you see I’m dying over here?
Fuck.
 
I’m talking to Kim on the phone right now, tracking her progress as she travels in traffic in the middle of the night near Chicago.  She is on her way to me.
It occurs to me, and I didn’t want to tell her now, but when she reads this, it’s okay.  It is still fresh with her, the leaving she had to do.  She gave up more to be with me than I did to be with her.  Her son, Alex, she left behind.  It was a hard thing. It was their decision, and I support them in it.  I wish that he would have come with her, for the sake of her happiness.  I promise we will travel up as often as possible to see him, and she will talk with him often, and chat online as well.
And I wonder, could I have done it?  I wanted to move closer to my kids, to be near them, but my daughter is very young, 10 years old.  I don’t want to. . .be separated from her more than I already am.  Maybe if she were older, it would be different.  But I have a job here, too, and I don’t know.
So many what if’s, so many woulda shoulda coulda . . .I asked her to come live with me, and she said yes, and there we are.  She came to me.  How many times–how often– a person uproots herself to come be with me?  It makes me feel special, makes me feel like I have a lot to live up to.
My friend Kim–Bunny, not Detroit–while supporting me, tried to be the voice of reason.  What we are doing doesn’t look good to the kids, divorces are not even filed, much less final, how well do we really know each other.  Better than she thinks.  Better than most of you think, even, and we appreciate all of your kind words and support.  Combined over the last two months of phone bills, over ten thousand minutes, plus hundreds of emails.
Plus, as we have joked, after what each of us have lived with, we would have to literally rip off a mask to reveal horns to be worse than what the other had lived with.  I lived with my wife for 18 years–There is not enough BITCH in Kim to drive me away.  She feels the same about me.
I’m rambling, listening to her while I write.  The point is, We KNOW.  I know how much she loves me.  I don’t question it.  She knows how much I love her.
I am going to do whatever it takes, no matter what, whatever it takes to make her happy.
Give us a few days to get back on line, kids.  We’ll get back to you.  Ciao.

The Big Chill

August 30, 2006 at 2:48 PM | Posted in Journal | 1 Comment

  It’s cool now, in the morning.  Kids are going back to school.  Fall is approaching…  it wont be long now. . . 

  I had started to write a letter to my youngest daughter, Miranda, so that I can give it to her on her 18th birthday.  She is 10 now, and much of what is going on she doesn’t understand, and what she is getting is mostly one-sided, from her mother.

  I hope to retain a relationship with her, but I wanted to write about what is going on right now, so that later, she will . . .get it, get what happened to her mommy and daddy.  What I started to explain was–and maybe when I get done, I’ll publish it here–when you are with someone, you have to be there for them.  Compromise isn’t the other person giving in.  You have to be there for them, and they have to be there for you.  If they aren’t, you need to leave. 

  Every time I have quit a job, I have had another one lined up.  When I got fired, I didn’t have that option.  I’ve been fired three times.  So far.  Twice from the same job. If they were still in business, they would hire me back and fire me again.  Come to think of it, the other place that fired me is out of business also.  Let that be a lesson to the lot of ye.

  The second time I got fired from the warehouse job, I had been working there slightly under 6 months.  I still think it was a conspiracy, a combination of the six-month waiting period for health insurance, and other factors.  But it was a great gig while it lasted.  From May through October, 1990.  Or ‘89?  Christ, a long time ago.  I was a hot young stud.  With a wife and baby.

  I was working third shift, and it worked pretty good.  We had one car, I would take it to work at night, get off in the morning, the Wife would take it to her job.  I would stay up with the baby, and when she came home, I would go to sleep until I had to get up for work.  Since the boss got me on the cheap–6 bucks an hour, plus fiddy cent for working thirds–I got to work overtime, so I worked six days a week.  Didn’t see the wife alot, which defined our relationship in the early years and does much towards explaining its longevity.

  The warehouse was a great job, both times.  Henry Transportation, we hauled carpet up from Georgia, then distributed it throughout the midwest.  Went out of business later when some of the mills, like Phil-Shaw figured they could do it themselves and eliminate the middle man, Bill Henry.

  My dad was a Georgia driver for Bill, and therefore, one of the Gods.  He and several others would drive down to Georgia, basically empty, except for the rare return, and come back loaded to the very top with carpet.  He would make two trips one week, and three the next, so every other week he had a real three day weekend, plus he was home a couple of times during the week.  He drove the doubles, too.

  While we are talking about my dad, here’s a story, straight from his mouth: 

  One trip down to Georgia, I got a flat sitting in the yard at one of these shitty little independent mills.  I call Bill and tell him, and he says, well, he can’t get anybody to get there till tomorrow, but he can layover, and of course Bill will pay for it.

  I tell him, well, how about I pay for the tire, and you just pay me back when I get back.  It’d be cheaper, and I won’t lose a day.  Bill says, that’s going to be about three hundred dollars.  How come you have that much money on you?

  I told him, in case I’m down here and I get pissed off and quit, I want to be able to fly home. 

  So I worked in the warehouse.  I was nominally a forklift driver, but the Georgia drivers would generally drop in the yard, and so I spent alot of time hooking up and unhooking, backing into the doors, and so forth.  If I could, I used my dad’s truck, 48, because it was one of the new ones, and the best.  Conventional cab, power steering, A/C.  I could move trailers around all night with it.

  Then, back in the warehouse, we worked in two man teams usually, driver and spotter.  Spotter on the floor has the clipboard, and checks off rolls and locations as the driver unloads, or goes and finds as the driver loads the truck.  We had several towmotors–forklifts–a Mitsubishi, a Yale, and the favorite one I can’t remember the brand of, and another shitty Yale.  The shitty yale had actual forks on it, because very rarely we would do skids of tile or miscellaneous crap.  The rest of them had a 9 or 10 foot long pole on them for picking up the rolls of carpet with.  A dick.

  We were guys, okay, working in a warehouse, with huge phallic symbols on the front of our machines.  What the hell else you expect?  Lots of jokes came with this.  When you roll up to a roll, you have to eyeball that target, otherwise you miss, go into the roll, and risk damage.  You miss, the guy on the ground invariably will ask, "Want me to put some hair around that?"  Or just stroke the pole with his hands a bit, and ask, "Ready now?"

  Carpet in the warehouse was stacked from the ground to the rafters, on shelves spaced about 2 feet apart.  Stuff on the top was easily 20 feet in the air.  It takes patience and precision and a good eye to get the dick in those holes.  We were all good.

  So, I have the lift up in the air, aiming for a hole on top.  I find it, and go in, then tilt back.  I raise it up slowly.  It is a large roll, a typical 120 foot roll, about 18 inches in diameter.  It is not on the top of the stack, there are two rolls on top of it, stacked brick style.

  So as I raise the lower roll, the rolls above it move, then one *pushes* to the side. The forklift leans over, and goes up on two wheels.  Then as the roll I am raising goes over, the other falls into the open slot.  The forklift then lists back in the other direction.

  There I am, with my lift twenty feet in the air with five hundred plus pounds bouncing back and forth, swinging the forklift like a pendulum.

  I know I have excellent sphincter control, because it grabbed a hold of the seat and didn’t let go.

  The guy I who was spotting for me, Jerry Brown, just shook his head at me.

  So driving a forklift is fun and occasionally dangerous.  Not to the driver, but to the surroundings.  We were always hitting things, bumping into stuff.  Shit happens.  I mean, with the pole and a roll of carpet, you don’t have to go slow.  We ran those tow motors at full blast.  The owner had governors put on them, to keep us from going too fast.

  The time came for us to move to a larger facility, so we moved from this new warehouse we leased from a large grocery store to an old, decrepit structure that belonged to a department store that I believe is no longer in business.  They warned us that since we were in this nice (?) new (??!) facility, that damage to the structure would not be tolerated, and would be grounds for dismissal.

  Well, you can guess what happens, right?  See, in a forklift, for me, anyway, I drive backwards so much that I forget that I have to actually look behind me.  I kinda remember what’s behind me, why do I have to keep looking?

  That’s why.  I hit the pole with the wheel, and it broke the tie rod on the tow motor.  The pole itself was not actually damaged, but in their counterclaim for my unemployment, they said it was.  I collected unemployment for about six weeks, and actually had to pay some of it back, the fuckers.

  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  That night, I knew I was done for.  The next night I came in, and Phil stopped me outside.  He tried to be a hard ass with me, but basically he said Bill said I had to be let go.

  I was seriously upset.  I get home, and go to the bedroom, and Linda is not quite asleep yet.  She realizes that I am home *way* too soon, and upset.  On the verge of crying.  She is almost hysterical, from 0 to 120 in two seconds.  Through my heaving, I tell her I got fired.

  The thing on her mind is not how I feel, but how this affects her.  I am upset as hell, and crying now.  She gets up, comes around to my side of the bed, where I am sitting.  I go to put my arms up, expecting a hug.  Instead, she berates me.  "How could you be so stupid!  What the hell is wrong with you!  We have a baby to take care of!  I can’t talk to you right now.  I have to be alone."

  And she walks out of the bedroom, and goes downstairs, and leaves me on the bed like that, alone.

  It was about 16 years ago.  It still hurts.  The scar is still there, but it is cold.  Very cold.

In Other News. . .

August 28, 2006 at 9:43 AM | Posted in Journal | 1 Comment
 We now take you from the middle east for our top local headlines.
 
An unidentified man in Missouri was ejected from his house by his estranged soon to be ex on Saturday.  Reports indicate that he was just trying to retrieve some belongings and she threatened to call the police.  No arrests were made.
 
In a related story, a domestic squabble in Michigan may lead to a departure soon.  Film at 11.  Jerry Springer will have the story at 11:30.
 
This morning, two men were seen taking a large dog to the humane society and dropping it off.  Afterwards, the men were seen hugging.  No charges are sought.
 
Sunday night in Missouri, an unidentified man was seen driving around several local neighborhoods, in an obvious attempt to appear to be delivering food, but was in fact stalking several women.  No charges were filed; several of the women asked for the man’s phone number.  They said (quote): "He looks pretty damn cool.  Is he taken?"  Yes, ladies, he is.
 
And also, late Saturday night, a local man, 41, was observed arriving at his father’s house at 2 am.  He wasn’t drunk, but did appear to be lonely.  Witnesses heard him say, "This is just temporary!  I have my own place, honest!  I get my apartment Friday!  My girlfriend is moving in with me!"  To date, this remains unconfirmed conjecture.
 
And in weather. .. Tonights forecast:  Dark.  Continued dark through most of the night, with widely scattered light in the morning.
 
That’s the news… . and you’re not.

. . .Hear Me Call Your Name. . .

August 25, 2006 at 8:17 AM | Posted in Notes on Society | 3 Comments
There is an old, old saying, obsured by time, and barely relavent today:  When the time comes, you have to be able to shoot your own dog.
  People who live in the city, or people who are extreme animal lovers may not understand this.  Animal rights activists and vegetarians.  Bleeding hearts.  A dog can be like a member of your family.  I know a few people who have no children, and the dog is their family.
  Sometimes better than family.  No one will give you unconditional love like a dog will.  No matter what you do–and I have seen some sickening cases of animal abuse.  Someone famous like Winston CHurchill or somebody once said, "Dogs look up to you.  Cats look down on you.  A pig will treat you as an equal."
  But it’s true, dogs look up to you.  You are their caregiver, they are in your charge.  Like children.  I’ve never been good with animals.  I like cats, they are low maintenance and generally leave me alone.  I can barely take care of children; how in the world can I be expected to take care of a dog?
  It is easier to take care of a kid, because with a dog, there is the language barrier.  They understand you, but you just don’t understand them.  You try and try, and just don’t get it.  But they get you.  Proof that dogs are smarter than a lot of people.
  But they also rely on you to take care of them.  It’s hard to understand what a dog is thinking.  But they have lots of time to do it.  All they do is wait for you, and think.  I remember when I didn’t have a radio in my car, and I did alot of thinking.  That can never be good.
  Getting back. . .Animals in the wild, dogs in the wild–hell, humans in the wild–don’t have a long life expectancy.  Eventually, you will get killed and eaten by something faster, stronger, younger.  Your time is up.  We have domesticated dogs, and now they live far longer than they were ever meant to.  Perhaps people do, too.  Topic for another day. . . . …….
  Your dog can’t tell you when he’s done, when his life is over, when he’d prefer to go out in a blaze of glory, fighting to the death and dying doing it.  Instead, they lead a geriatric life of peace, probably not even understanding that they are old, and their time is up.
  Whether or not you believe in euthenasia for people is another story, but for your animals, if you love them, sometimes it is necessary.
  And not always for kindly, friendly reasons, either.  A poorly trained animal hurts a person, and the animal is put down.  What about the half-assed training and mixed signals the creature got?  Who is responsible?
  I am not really a dog person.  I was bit by one when I was young, and have had an aversion to them for a while.  Nevertheless we have had dogs around when I grew up.  Hunting dogs, which where outdoor dogs.  Beagles, bird dogs, coon hounds.  My dad has traded dogs in the past.  My brother hunts also, and so always has dogs outside in kennels, and a favorite in the house.  My brother loves dogs alot, has raised and trained more than he can remember, and has probably killed more, too.  Improving the breed.  Pragmatism can be a bloody sport.
  My woman, my love, my reason for living–she has a dog.  I love her, I accept her dog without question.  She may not have an idea how much of an adjustment it will be for me.  I need to be trained about how to deal with and take care of the dog.  But I am completely willing to accept this new member of our family.  I hope he accepts me.
  My son calls me this morning.  Remember he has moved into my house.  Still in the process of moving, he goes back and forth between the new houses until the end of the month.  He has a dog, still at his old house.  A Rottweiller named Chopper.
  When he moved to Reno for half a year, we kept Chopper with us.  He is a big, big dog.  He is an outside dog, on a big heavy chain.  He is a good dog, good with the kids, and they love him.  He is friendly, and would never hurt one of the kids.  It almost doesn’t seem fair–he’s been around longer than those kids have been.
  But it is close to the end for him.  Fifteen.  He is greying, and slowing down, and not getting around to well.  Mike seems to think he needs to be put down.  Maybe he didn’t think the wife would want him there, messing up the yard.  He needs to do it, but can’t.
  He called to ask me for help.
  I said, "Mike, I will do it for you, if you need me to.  I know it’s hard.  I’ll go with you or take him myself.  But I want to make sure that it needs to be done.  If he’s in pain or having a hard time getting around, or sickly.  But if he’s just old, let him live out his days, with his family.  Talk to Linda.  I’m sure she won’t mind.  The yard is big, it’s huge.  And it’ll grow back.  Take him with you.
  "But if you need it done, I’ll help you."
 
  When the time comes, you need to be able to shoot your own dog.  Or take him to the humane society, or whatever.  When the time comes.
  And sometimes, you may need help.
 

War of the Worlds

August 24, 2006 at 1:15 PM | Posted in Notes on Society | 3 Comments
  The conference of astronomers this week decided, after much debate, that Pluto is no longer a planet.  I had known this for a long time; they should have just asked me.
  However, it is troublesome that they have created this new classification called "dwarf planets," under which Pluto, its companion Charon, and also 2003 UB313 and its companion, as well as Ceres.  The classification is not what is troublesome; it is the name.  In this age of enlightenment and political correctness, how can they call a classification of planet "dwarf"?  It is insulting to all little people, short people, diminuative people, pymgies, shrimps, tiny tots, wee folk, leprachauns, and fairies.  Not the fag fairies, but the tiny ones with wings, like Tinkerbell.
  If they wanted to name the new planet category "fags," or "blacks," or "Eskimos,"  you can bet somebody would have something to say about it.  Jesse Jackson would be there in a heartbeat.  Al Sharpton would be laying on the ground in the path of the next shuttle as they roll it out.
  Tiny little fucks deserve our respect, even if they are tiny, inconsequential, and generally in my way.  Hope I don’t step on one.
  Nonetheless, it is exciting news to hear.  At least there is some activity going on in the world of space, the final frontier.  Most people don’t know, don’t care, and don’t understand shit about space, our solar system, or our universe.  Simple questions like "What planet is closest to the Sun?" (Rhode Island) or "What is the largest planet?" (The Pacific Ocean), or "What celestial body is in orbit around our planet?" (Roseanne Barr).
  Simple questions like these that most people can’t answer show the shocking lack of education in this country.  Indicative of this is legislation that passes through state houses every so often that want to make pi equal to 3.  Kee-Rist!  Not fucking kidding, children.  Sorry, I feel kids should go to school all year around, maybe have a month off.  It’s getting to the point where, you spend the money, you buy them the books, and what do they do?  They eat the goddamn books.
  I have been in too many college classes where there were people you thought were smart enough to be in college, but really couldn’t find their ass if their head was shoved up inside it.
  Look, I am smart, but I am not trying to be elitist, I’m really not.  Even dumb people (which to me, is 99% of the planet) can take an interest in other things besides beer, fucking, work, and Jerry Motherfucking Springer.  Even if you don’t understand it, take an interest.  Some of it may seep into their thick wooden skull.  Watch the history channel.  Pick up a magazine that isnt about fashion or Hollywood.  Get a hobby that doesn’t involve felony possession of child porn.
  Someone commented on Kim’s blog:  This is not a dress rehearsal.  At that particular moment in time, even though I have heard it before, it clicked with me then.
  This is life.  This is your life.  Maybe you will, maybe you won’t, get a do-over.  By the time you find out, it may be too late.  Do it now!  Go and live your goddamn life!  Get off the fucking couch!  Throw the fucking TV out the window.  Dont watch!  Do!  BE!  LIVE!  Function!
  I want you all to get up, get up right now, get out of your chair, and go to the window, and open it, and yell, "I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!"
 
  Then just sit down and have a snack.  Y’all are making me nervous.

Ground Hog’s Day

August 22, 2006 at 4:02 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | 1 Comment
Tags: , ,
  You would have had to have seen the movie “Ground Hog’s Day” to get this joke:
I’ve seen the movie “Ground Hog’s Day” only once, but it feels like I’ve seen it hundreds of times. . .
As I sat and watched my car burn to the fucking ground on that brisk February morn, I thought back to the events that led to this day.  If  everything happens for a reason, I was at a complete loss for the reason for this shit.  Irony?It was July, 1993.  Here in the Midwest, it was the year of the flood.  Lots of things happened, and remind me to come back to this and talk about how I ended up in the hospital after being bitten by a cat.  Anyway, *after* I had been bitten but *before* I ended up in the hospital, me and the wife and two other managers from Domino’s and their wives went on a float trip.  I guess I’ll talk about that in the hospital story.
We got back from the float trip on a Monday, and the next day the wife goes to work in the Celebrity, leaving behind the Cutlass Cierra.  I drive the Celebrity, unless the Cutlass won’t start, in which case the wife drives it, and leaves me to fend for myself.  This is only fair, she reasons, since she has the vagina and is in charge of the distribution of sex.  The Cutlass had a problem which was later found to be a bad wire going to the ECM–electronic control module–the “brain.”  It was sometimes just would not start.  No amount of coaxing, fingering, licking, sucking, buying it dinner or expensive jewelry would get it to go.  Let it sit for minutes, or hours, or days, and it would start.  It was a miracle the guy who fixed it found the problem, but that was later.
So, this morning when she had left for work, it wouldn’t start, so she took the Celebrity.  Yet later, oddly enough, it did.  I was off that day, and it was hot, so I stayed in the house in the AC.  They come home (wife and daughter, they worked together), and daughter says to me as I stand on the front porch, “Where’s the car?”  She seemed surprised that I was home.
I laughed and pointed at the neighbors bushes, around which I could not see.  But I had parked it there, and there it sat.  I thought.

  Melissa says, “Yeah, very funny.  Where’s the car?”  I walk out into the hot afternoon sun to view around the bushes and see the spot where the car had been but was no longer.  A tell-tale pile of broken glass lay in the street.
Moth.  Er.  Fuck.  Er… .Shit.
The car had been stolen.  In broad daylight, no less, because they had left at seven AM.  I called the Jennings police (we lived in Jennings–look up “hood” in the dictionary) and they would send someone right out, since it was daylight.  We filled out a report, and the police officer very politely told us that there was no way in hell we were going to get any help on this.  Not really, but he might as well have said it.
  After that I ended up in the hospital because of the cat bite, and we were having problems with the phone.  When I got out of the hospital, I had to rewire the junction box in the basement for the phone service coming in.  But what it meant was we had intermittent to non-existant phone service for a while.
The wife would call the police station every day, using all the charms available to her (???), and inquire about the car.  It was paid for, and we were poor, so we only had liability on it.  We kind of needed to get it back.  Jennings police were award-winningly unhelpful.  They continued to dismiss what she said, and said they would call if they found out something.  Have we called you yet?  Then don’t call us.
That’s what we are trying to explain to you, you can’t call us; the phone is out.
Oh–Oh, okay.  We understand now.  If we hear something, we’ll call you.
We knew we needed another car, and began looking.
In September, or maybe October, I get a call from a towing company in Maplewood.  The guy says, “Hey, yo, I got dis car a yers, ya know?  I had da ting for tree friggin mundts.  So, youse gonna come an get it, or what?”
I said, “What?”
He starts to repeat himself.  I say, “Whoa, there, duder.  You’ve had my car all this time?”
“Yup.”
I have to go to the Maplewood police station, show them proof of ownership, get the release, and take it to the tow yard.  The car has accrued 25 bucks per day for three or four months for storage, plus the 58 for the tow.  He’ll let me have the car for a hundred clams.  Okay, then.
But when I get to the Maplewood police station, the cop shows me the report, which I read carefully.  Stolen car recovered in Maplewood.  Reported stolen in Jennings.
Maplewood contacts Jennings, says we have recoved this vehicle, do you want to process it?
Jennings police said no.
Oh, it gets better than that.  It was recovered the SAME GODDAMN DAY IT WAS STOLEN!
The only good thing to come out of this was that since we only had liability, there was nothing to pay back to the insurance company for getting the car back.  So there we are with three cars.  As a bonus, the Cutlass will start without a key.  We get the Cierra fixed, we get an alarm on it, get a new steering column AND a steering column collar–kind of an after-market afterthought on GM’s part, where they realized there might be a problem if a 9 year old can hot wire their cars–and a new window.
This was early December by the time it was fixed.  By January 2nd, I had a window broken out of the car two more times, in addition to a window broken out of my daughter’s boyfriend’s car.  It was time to move, and we did, and that is another story as well.  We moved to Florissant, a decidedly better neighborhood.  In the meantime, I was driving the Cutlass Cierra, and we found someone to fix the intermittent starting.  The wife drove the new Cutlass Supreme, and we gave the Celebrity to our son Michael.  So–this was 94?  Yeah.
Christmas of 94, I got a stereo for my car for Christmas, a present from the wife.  I had it installed in the middle of January.  The car had a different problem now, where it would occasionally run funny.  I wasn’t really sure what the problem was.  It would barely run, like it needed a tune-up, and then all of the sudden it would kick in, and just run like normal.  It didn’t do it very often.  Someone told me that it might be related to some sensor or other equipment on the exhaust manifold.
The car ran funny once in a while, but who cares?  I had a bitchen new stereo!
On February second I was taking my son to school–kindergarten.  Wow.  It doesn’t seem that long ago. . .I could shine my car with all the nostalgia I wax.  Anyway, I start the car up, and once again it is running really rough, really bad.  But it is only a few blocks to school, so  I figure I can get him there and get back, and then look at it.  And this time I mean it.  Ever so slowly, it gets down the road.  It might be making some noise, but I have the stereo on, with one of my favorite discs in the CD player:  Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense.  Kind of an Anthem for me, if anything.
“Some things–sure can–sweep me off my feet!
“Burnin down the house!
“Here’s your ticket, pack your bags, time for jumpin overboard–”
I drop my little boy off at school, and then I leave.  The school is in the back of a small grouping of houses, too small to be called a subdivision.  The street we were on was a direct line from the main drag to the school, with a few short streets off of it.  I stop at the light, and the car dies.
I try to restart it.  No go, but I am hopeful that the smoke is a good sign.
Other cars pull around me, conveniently not making eye contact as they rush around me, leaving me stranded like a guy on a camel in the middle of the desert in a bad joke.
I let the car roll backwards and turn it onto the side street.  Meanwhile, more smoke rolls out from under the hood.  I turn the key off, which turns the stereo off as well.
“Buring down the house!–”
Thinking quickly–yeah, honestly, I was–I knocked on several doors.  No one home, no one home, no one home–
One lady answers the door.  “Excuse me, I was wondering if you might have a fire extinguisher I could borrow?”
Around me she peers cautiously at the smoke, now billowing out from under the hood like a Kansas City Barbeque.  “Uh–why don’t I call the fire department?”
Well, okay.  I mean, if you think it’s a good idea.  It seems a bit drastic to me.  Are sure I just can’t have a cup of water or something to throw on it?  She looks at me, then looks at the car behind me in the background barely visible in the cloud of smoke.  She disappears quickly into the house.
Soon, it’s a party.  A county cop stops by, and I inform him that I am the proud owner, and that the fire department is on the way.  He gets my information, and I thought I was going to get a ticket for having an unauthorized bonfire.  Meanwhile the fire department comes along and douses it with a variety of chemicals and so forth.  People gather in the street to watch my one-car stationary parade.  I throw some candy to the spectators.  A hotdog vendor from the streets of Manhatten arrives, obviously lost.  The mime may have been a bit much.
The cop takes me home, and I arrange for a tow truck to tow it home.  Why?  Didn’t I just have it towed away?  These are the questions my regular tow truck driver asks me.  Yeah, some people have regular doctors, or a lawyer on retainer.  I have a tow
truck driver.
The stereo was fried.  My expensive JVC stereo with all the bells and whistles was toast.  It looked fine, but the heat got to it.  There were smoke marks on it, and it would power up but that’s about it.  My CD ejected, and the last four tracks wouldn’t play.
I had a long go-around with both Best Buy and the credit card company.  Warranty-wise, I was screwed.  The credit card company would cover it, except it was an auto accessory.  Best Buy would have covered it, except for the fire, so they took turns
dropping me on my head.And this–this is why I believe in balance in the universe.  There is only so much happiness I am allowed to have.  New stereo?  No, you can’t have it.  Not for long, anyway.  And so many things in my life have been like that.  If I fix one thing, another thing breaks.  If I don’t fix it, things stay the same, balanced, pivoting me on a spike between moderate happiness and moderate frustration.  I’m not being superstitious–I have tracked this conspiracy against me.  I know.  *I know!*  Things go my way just enough to keep me from going postal, and they go the opposite way just enough to keep me from…what?  Keep me from what?
Complete bliss?  Complete happiness?  Complete heaven?  I can have some, but obstacles must be thrown in my way first.
And it scares me.  What must I lose, to gain happiness?  What next will be taken from my grasp?
The image plays over and over again, in my mind.  My car, burning to the ground, because I sought a small amount of joy.

I kept the burned up car in the driveway for over a year–a trophy, a cautionary tale–until the city made me get rid it.

Faith Of Our Fathers

August 17, 2006 at 10:18 PM | Posted in Personal | 5 Comments
  . . .Faith of Our Sons
 
  The wife, when I first met her, belonged to this weird church, and I was an angry young know-it-all atheist.  Being with her, I started to soften a bit, but still, when she said, "I’d like you to come to church with me sometime, if you could–"
  I would snort and say, "Yeah, right."
  She didn’t drag me in to it–she was much more reasonable twenty years ago.  But I met some people, and talked with them, and asked some questions.  And I got answers.  The answers I got worked for me.  That is the important thing about faith, and about belief.  You have to believe it.  Kind of obvious, but the contrary, to not believe, builds dissent within your heart.
  I believed.  For the first time in my life, I had something to believe, and a concrete set of personal tenets, plus a support group in the form of a congregation that shared my beliefs.   This sense of community was a new experience for me as well, and I relished it.
  But on a personal level, my faith became important to me.  It made me happy, gave me purpose, made me feel sure about my future.  On a very real, material level, I saw and experienced some miracles.
  Miracles are a very personal thing.  You won’t see the skies open or the seas part, or lepers healed, or the lame become cool.  But the miracles, the smallest of things, become your personal witness to the glory of God.  I had some miracles in my life.
  So, I joined.  We got married first, and then I joined.  We had been living in sin, fornicating–hell, she was pregnant–so we had to get married first.  I was baptised, and then she was actually disfellowshipped for about a year–call it double-secret probation.  Then she was reinstated.  We remained active, and went every week, participated in church functions, held church offices, even.  I was secretary of the priesthood group, the men’s club.
  One sunday, early in March, in the early ’90’s, I was in the priesthood meeting.  A member walked in, tapped me on the shoulder:  a phone call.  I grumbled something about how did my work find me *here*?  I didn’t notice then that he retained his somber expression.  I picked up the phone.  It was my older son Mike, he was sobbing.
  "Dad!  The baby died!  She died in her sleep!  My baby died!"  My granddaughter.  Rotha Marie, less than a month old.
  I dropped the phone, I crumbled, I actually crumbled to the ground.  Someone went to get Linda, who was in one of the classrooms.  She was told her husband collapsed on the floor, and she came running out.  All I could do was hand her the phone.  From the floor, I could see her screaming.  "What!?  What!?  NO!  Michael, NO!  NO!"
  Somehow, we got off the phone, we told Mike we would be there.  Linda’s friend Ruth drove us over.  She was trying to fill the silence, and she started to say something about God’s plan, the little angel, she must have been a wonderful soul for God to call her back so soon.  Blah fucking blah.
  I cut her off.  "Ruth, I know you mean well, and I believe it, I believe it too.  I believe you.  Right now I don’t fucking want to hear it."
 
  I’m sorry Ruth.  I’m so, so sorry.
 
  We get to the house, and the ambulance is there, the EMT’s are there, ready to take her away.  My wife tells me I must give the baby a blessing.  As a priesthood holder, as the patriarch of the family, it is my duty.  WIth an EMT holding her tiny body, I place my fingers lightly on her forehead.  Tears are coming down my face.  I have no idea now what I said.  "Bless this child, oh Lord, watch over her and keep her.  Bless us, that we may never forget her, and hold her always in our hearts.  Thank you Lord, for letting us spend a little time with your angel.  Please protect us and comfort us now, as we go on without her.  In Jesus name, Amen."
  They took her away.
  There followed the funeral, which was on our wedding anniversary.  But our church attendance slid slowly down the couch and onto the floor.  Eventually, we weren’t going, weren’t talking about it, weren’t thinking about it, weren’t really living it.
  Occasionally someone from church, the missionarries or someone, a home teacher, would come by, and we would talk.  Linda grew more distant to them, and perhaps even shooed them away when I wasn’t home.  Once when someone was there, we got into the discussion, and asked Linda, well, why won’t you come back to church?
  Her answer:  Because something always happens when I do!  Someone always dies, or gets sick, or something always happens to someone.  God only gives me what I can handle, and I can’t handle any more!  Satan pushes me and tempts me, and I can’t handle it.  God wants things from me that I can’t do.  I can’t!  I can’t do it!  The only thing these kids have left is their Uncle Johnny, my brother.  As soon as I go back, he’ll be taken away from them!  I can’t do it.  I can’t.
  We weren’t going to church last year, when Johnny got sick, and we weren’t going this year, when he died–so what does it matter, Linda!?  Goddammit, what does it matter?  What does it matter at all? 
  What does it fucking matter?
  If we had been going regularly, if we had been attending, been good, faithful members–this thing I have been in would not have happened.  I would not be with Kim.  Plain and simple,  I just wouldn’t.  I would have been a more attentive husband, the wive would have been. . . . .wow. . . would she?  would she be easier to get along with?  Would she have been smoother, more understanding, would there have been less berating and yelling?
  Probably.  Really hard to say.  Maybe I would have been more willing to put up with it.  That is neither here nor there.
  But then I never would have met Kim.  Things happen for a reason.  I. . .guess I believe this.  Someone I know does, and I trust her.  I am starting to accept this.  Listen, I stopped going, and my faith has waned to a trickle, but I still believe.  I still believe in God, and in Jesus, and I am still grateful every day for what they have done for me.  Without Jesus, I never would have kicked my serious drug problem, almost twenty years ago.  I sure as shit couldn’t do it on my own, I know that.  I didn’t even *want* to.
  I explained all of this to Kim, and my crisis of faith.  She didn’t understand, at first, until I explained in detail my relationship with God, and with the church.  I won’t even tell you which church, because I am embarrassed.  Not for me, for them.  It is a good church, and it has been given a bad rap.  I am a poor, poor example, and that is why I won’t say.  If you figure it out from clues that I have given, please keep it to yourself.
  I explained how deeply I had been in.  I am a member of the priesthood.  I have given blessings.  I have performed baptisms.  I baptized my son.  I have taught classes.
 
  Once, in Sunday school class–the one for adults–there was a large group of us in the chapel for the general class.  Course of study, Old Testament.  Topic today, the story of Samson and Delilah.  Of course, everyone has heard the story, and thinks they are familiar with it.  We dig a little deeper, because that’s how we are.  But the head of the class, a lay person like me (that’s the T.O. of our church: a lay ministry, even the Bishop of our local branch, like all the rest, is a regular guy with a regular job) was just trying to get through the lesson in a light-hearted fashion.  There was some laughing and joking of course.  We are essentially a happy people.
  My wife, sitting next to me, serious as a heart attack and almost as humorless, shaking her head to herself, finally had to cut in.  While I agree with her about the lesson, the context that it played in and the fact that she is a complete downer, it never occurred to her to just let it go.  Her point:
  What you are forgetting here is the the promise God made to Samson.  God told Samson he was destined for great things, if he would but remain faithful to the Lord.  The story about Delilah may just be allegorical, but what it means is that Samson was a great man, with a great destiny, but he was weak, and he caved in to his urges.  He could have been important, but he had no self-control.
  He let God down
.
  I don’t want to give the impression that I think of Kim as my Delilah.  As I said, it is a metaphor.  God deals in parables to get his point across to idiots (us).  But long before Kim came along, I felt like Samson. 
  I feel I let God down.

Let’s Get Physical

August 17, 2006 at 12:32 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
 Man, I always had a thing for Olivia Newton John.  She always seemed sweet, cute, and nice.  Hot little body, too.  Even after her thing with breast cancer (and I’m glad she is doing okay) I would have still banged her.  She had that girl-next-door innocence going on.
  But then, her boyfriend turns up missing, and almost a year later he is spotted in Mexico.  He bailed on her, bigtime.
  Is she that hard to live with?  Maybe so.  I’m not taking the guy’s side, exactly, but something made him jump ship, both literally and figuratively.  He couldn’t just say, "I want to see other chicks"?  Maybe he needed to see a Mexican doctor for a veneral disease.
 
  Can I stay on topic for one damn minute?  Christ.  I knew what I wanted to write about, then I thought of this title, then I thought of Olivia in spandex.  The doctor said I had A-D- something or other, I didn’t really pay attention to the rest of what he said.
  But I had a physical this morning, the one I gave blood, urine, and semen for a couple of days ago.  They didn’t ask for the semen, but I spent a long time in the waiting room with a Cosmopolitan magazine in my hands.  Or hand.  The other hand was busy.
  I get in for the physical, and the healthcare professional checks my weight.  Down just a few pounds, but I continue to trend downwards.  At this rate, by the year 2347 I will have wasted away to nothing.  She asks me if I smoke, and I say no, but I’m thinking of taking it up.
  "Why on earth would you want to do something like that?"
  "Heroin is too expensive."
  She checks my blood pressure, 120 over 76.  I rock.  I go down for a chest X-ray, then back to the room.  the Nurse Practitioner is there, and she gives me the once over.  Checks my reflexes, even, which I never recall actually having had done to me.  She hooks me up to the heart monitor, and at my requests, she shaves a crooked smiley face into my chest hair for the tape.  After they check that, she looks in my ears, my nose, and my throat. 
  We go over my blood test.  Cholesterol is 147.  That is a good number.  Considering I eat an egg and sausage sammich every day, that is a damn good number.  All the rest of my numbers are really good, too.  There is a number they check, I forget what it is called, but is concerns prostate health.  I don’t have to bend over and have her shove her finger up my ass to feel my prostate.  In fact, she insists that she not do that, and would I please pull my pants back up, she’s not going to do it.  I offer her a ten dollar bill, and she asks, "Wouldn’t you prefer Dr Lucas (the male doctor) do this for you?"
  "Hey, I’m not a fag."  She is still hesitant, but after I offer her a ten dollar bill, she relents.
  Prostate health is important.

The Lion, the Bloodtest, and the Amish

August 16, 2006 at 7:47 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
  On Tuesday, I had arranged with *the* wife to take my daughter to the zoo on her birthday.  My son was going as well; it should be a pretty good day.  First, however, I had an appointment to give some blood for a blood test for my physical later this week.
  I go to the lab to give blood.  I have an early appointment:  8 am.  Yet when I arrive, the place is overflowing with old people like the mall full of zombies when the dead come back to life.  Christ, you know, these people are retired, they have all fucking day (unless they die before the early bird special at Denny’s), why can’t they stay in their hovels until the people who work get out, get their shit done, and get on to their jobs?  Fuck.
  I’m not done yet.  Goddammit, it’s not just today.  It’s every fucking time I need to get out early and get something done, there is a line of goddamn old people who have been camped out since four mother fucking am to get into the place.  Say the place, whatever the hell it may be, opens at nine.  The people who work their may arrive at 8 or 8:30 to set up or whatever it is they do.
  The old people crowd the door and bang on it (again, return to the previously mentioned zombie reference), thinking that just because someone is there, their dire fucking emergency can be taken care of.  Wait until the fucking store opens to buy your goddamn dog food, lysol, floor mats, potted plants, or whatever the hell it was that couldn’t wait until noon for you to buy.  Fuck.
  I worked at Steak n Shake ever so briefly as a manager.  Long considered a friend of the elderly (except for their pricing, which approaches extortion), a corporate mandate trickled down to the store level, and as of October one, there would be no more senior citizen discount.  This arrived to us in April.  For the next many, many months, every goddamn old person would have something to fucking say about it at the fucking register.  Every one of them.  The regulars, the ones who came in every day for an 89 cent cup of coffee and milked it for all it was worth and didn’t tip, had something to say about it every fucking day.
  Well, tell me, Bryan, what did they say?  What?  What?  Like I give a shit.  I started tuning it out halfway through the third person to say it.  I wanted so dearly to respond to their complaints.  "If you’re lucky, you’ll die before October and it won’t be a fucking issue.  Piss off."
  I was never an early riser before, because of my job.  But once I became one, I noticed it more and more, the early stampede of the elderly.  Once we were going to a wedding out of town, and had to leave by 10 am.  I get up early, go to the hair place to get a haircut, thinking, naively, that if I get there early, surely I can get out early.  Think again, dickhead, and don’t call me Shirley.
  I get there at 7:55 for their 8 am opening, and there is a line.  These fucking old people, most of them don’t have hair.  The ones that do, have mere wisps of grey sticking out of their bumpy, wrinkled skulls.
  They need to get their hair cut early, before what?  Before they die later in the afternoon?  The fucking undertaker can cut their fucking hair.  Problem solved.
 
  So after I get my blood drawn, I head off to *the* house (can’t call it mine anymore) to get the kids, and then we head back downtown to the zoo.  The St Louis Zoo is one of the better ones in the country, and the best free zoo, in my opinion.  ‘Course, you have to pay for parking, and the food is at ball park prices, and various attractions within also cost, but you can spend a frugal day at the zoo if you wish. 
  It was a beautiful day, a perfect day.  Cloudless, fifteen degrees cooler than previous days, and no humidity.  The kind of day that lulls visitors to our fair city into a false sense of serenity before beating them senseless with 100+ degree temps and humidity measured in gallon per cubic foot.
  We almost saw lots of animals.  We almost saw lions, almost saw tigers, almost saw apes and chimpanzees.  I am not faulting the zoo; this is the work of conniving animals.  They hide from the humans.  I get that. . . I get really tired of being stared at, even though I know it is my birthright, being the magnificent specimen of manhood that I am.  (Too much?  It sounded like too much as I wrote it.  It’s called sarcasm, people, of the self-deprecating kind.  I don’t really mean it.  If I did mean it, I sure as hell wouldn’t write it.)
  But it made me think:  I could open a zoo.  All I need is several acres of tall weeds, and some fence.  Put up signs that say what kind of animal is in there, and you would never know whether they were really in there or not.  I could claim to have dinosaurs or unicorns or fucking leprachauns, it wouldn’t matter.
  I was at the chimpanzee pen.  Natural-state kind of look:  Trees, vines, stream, milk crates, tire swing–the kind of thing you find in the jungle in Africa.  One chimp, hiding behind some trees.  I wondered aloud, so other visitors to the zoo could partake of my musings:  "  Why don’t they have fifty or sixty chimpanzees in there?  Then we would be guaranteed to see some.  Plus, the social interaction would be a sight to behold."
  Others nodded in agreement.  Sometimes, however, my musings fall onto the ears of the deaf and the lacking-in-humor.  At the prairie dog display, I wondered, "I bet these things taste good."  People quietly walked away.  However, at the gazelle display, I had a couple of rednecks fervent about going back to their truck and retreiving bow and arrow.
  But don’t even joke about that around the bald eagles.  Sheesh!  You’d think they were endangered or something.
  We passed a small pit that some zoo employees were cleaning out, shoveling, hosing, brushing.  As we passed, I said as officially as I could to all who would listen, "And here we have the uniformed zoo underling, preparing their nest. . ."
  We did see some amazing things, though.  The kangaroos have disappointed me once again, but I am onto those bastards.  Someday, the truth will be told about them.  But we passed a display which read:
  "Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, their numbers have dwindled, but efforts are underway to preserve their habitat.  Odd, industrious creatures, they often appear at a loss when in captivity.  They roam in packs from 3 to 70, and remain close knit their entire lives, often inter-breeding."
  Above it, telling what the creatures were:  "The bearded Amish."
 
  If I could be any creature, I would be a penguin.  That is odd, if you knew me, because I am not a strong swimmer.  But I know that if I were a penguin, I could swim, and swim well.  They just seemed so happy, so at peace, so Zen-like in their appreciation for cold seafood.  I love it cold, I really do.  Swimming in the cold water (if I could swim) all day sounds like my idea of heaven.
 

5 things you get in trouble for in heaven

August 14, 2006 at 8:03 AM | Posted in Entertainment | 3 Comments

 

I had been tagged, and in fact, I asked for it. You want to know more about me? This questionaire should do it. The depth of the questions intrigued me, and I realized I had much to share that perhaps you did not know. Look at the bottom and see if you are one of the ones I have tagged to do this test yourself.

5 things in my freezer:


somebody’s head (previous tenant)
beaker of sperm (my own)
squirrels (4)
2.5 kilos of coarse cocaine
cookies and cream ice cream

5 things in my purse:


condoms (extra large)
tampons, super
American Express card with one edge sharpened (don’t ask why)
passport
secret disc

5 things in my closet (which probably don’t belong there, but that’s where it’s been thrown) LOL
latent homosexuality
family secrets
bowling ball
easel w/ unfinished masterpiece, painted over an actual masterpiece
7 cases of toilet paper

5 things on my desk
glue that I had been sniffing
89 DVD’s of homemade porn purchased on EBay
rat droppings
shot glasses
a small bonfire

5 people I’ve tagged to play along:
Heinrich Himmler
Queen of England
A homeless guy
Courtney Love
Bob

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