“a cup of coffee and a slice of time…”

So where do you go when you feel like you’ve gotten to a dead end? Where do you find the answers when the questions you hear yourself asking are falling on deaf ears? Your mind tells you “No one cares and no one ever really did”, and who are you to argue with your mind? “You’re just some loser who can’t get your shit together. No one cares about you, no one loves you, no one even knows you exist at this point.” I don’t have an answer. I’ve never been at that place in my head. Sure, I deal with self doubt at times and I feel like I should lose 20 lbs and I should pick up a hobby like painting. Or maybe I should learn how to fix things around the house. But these are normal things everyone goes through. All in all I have a pretty good overall opinion of myself(not horn-tooting here.) I do the best I can. I feel like I’m a pretty giving and open person to those around me. I don’t wallow in self-pity or self-doubt for more than 10 minutes a time. My family loves me, and have told me on many occasions that they don’t know what they’d do without me(my wife can’t even pick something to watch on Netflix. The struggle is real.) And I feel like the luckiest mug in the world having my high school sweetheart at my side, along with three kids that are equally sweet, polite, and looking at the world with eyes wide open.

My point is, I can’t step into the head of someone so lost and in the dark that suicide seems to be the only answer. You can’t empathize with that sort of deep, dark, sadness unless you’ve been in the thick of it. It’s not that I don’t want to help. I want to reach in and pull that sludge out of that person and shine as much light in as I can, but it doesn’t work that way. Depression isn’t coaxed out with some supplements and a handful of “Hey, keep your chin up!” You can’t will someone to be happy by praying for them or dropping by occasionally and leaving them with a “We should get coffee sometime, or something.” Being there for someone you know is going through it is a start. Opening your head and heart to what they’re going through is a good place to begin. You can offer your services as a coffee pal or a fellow bookstore rummager. You can ask how they’re doing and offer some honest advice. You can’t make someone take it, though. You can only hope it’s a lifeline enough to keep that person interested. Enough to keep the conversation going.

I’ve dealt with this darkness more times than I’d like to count in my life. Friends, family, acquaintances that gave into the black hole of regrets, guilt, despair, and whatever else you can find on any early Cure albums, regardless of how much they loved others or were loved by others. It’s a sickness, plain and simple. It’s not a bad mood you’ll eventually get out of. There’s no bucking up and getting over it. There are chemicals imbalanced, wires crossed, and emotional scars a mile long wrapped around ones heart like a python squeezing.

Like I’ve said, I don’t have any answers. I just want to stay engaged with the world around me. I want to stay plugged in and available to those who need me to be. I may not have any answers, but I can maybe help with figuring out the questions that need to be asked. We’re all in this together, for better or worse. Let’s make it more better than worse. We start doing that by not averting our gaze off to the side, but by laser-pointing it directly ahead. No matter how uncomfortable or awkward it may be. Let those around you having a rough go of it know that you’re there and that you’re buying a cup of coffee and have a spot to sit and talk. That’s how we make it better. Sometimes a friend is all we need to get to the next day.

That’s all we can ask for, isn’t it?

Please Don’t Ask

I’m sitting here feeling a bit under the weather. Spinning some Genesis to help with the healing process. It seems the multitudes of viruses, bugs, and general disease that have made their way through my home the last three months that failed to make their mark on me have, indeed, finally made their mark. I was feeling fine just yesterday. Put a sweaty four miles on the treadmill, lifted some weights like only Adonis could, and bid the gym a fond adieu. This morning I wake up with what feels like a sandpaper-covered frog in my throat, achy, and just a general feeling of malaise hanging over me like some existential rainstorm.

I know the physical aspect of this feeling is from being under the weather. But that existential drift I’m experiencing is from that outside world I’ve been trying to maneuver around like the last breathing meatbag in a mall overrun by zombies. Zombies wheezing things like “Get over it, snowflake”, and “We’re gonna make America great again”.  On a daily basis I see a good number of things that make me lose faith in that good old American spirit. I see a country in the throes of a moral crisis. I know there’s people suffering from “buyer’s remorse”. Those people that voted for the reality TV clown because he was going to do something about abortion, ISIS, immigration, and bring jobs back to the US. They couldn’t in good conscience vote for “that woman”. Try as I might, I just can’t see the logic. Instead of voting for a woman with years of experience in politics and government, but is pro choice, they instead vote for the thrice married, thrice bankrupted, con man who stiffed dozens of contractors and employees over the years with lawsuits following him around like flies to shit. Non-religious casino mogul with the backing of the alt-right(white nationalists) beats the wife of the philandering ex-president. A woman that despite her husband’s laundry list of foibles and faults sticks with him. Figured those fine Christian women would see that as a decent character trait. A hell of a lot better than the guy that fucked around on two wives, possibly a third. A guy that on countless occasions stiffed contractors that did work on his many “yuuuge” buildings. Middle class working stiffs that felt they didn’t have a leg to stand on. Guys that the current POTUS says he wants to help by bringing jobs back to the country.

I can remember when it was easy to say I love you/But things have changed since then/Now I really can’t say if I still do

The thing is, this guy isn’t doing any of this. Once again, a good portion of the voting population was duped into voting in a “Trojan Horse” candidate. Trump walked through the Oval Office doors and brought in with him Steve Bannon. A foul human being that made clickbait hate articles into an artform over at Breitbart. Breitbart isn’t a news site, contrary to what some may believe. It’s a gunk machine. It spews vitriol opinions with the sole purpose of destroying liberal thought. Their main goal is to “whiten” up American society. LGBTQ? Hate it. Equal rights? Unless you’re white, male, and of the superior race, hate ’em. Immigrants? Fuck ’em.  Refugees? Fuck ’em and let ’em die. Muslims? Fuck ’em, too. Only religion that counts is Christianity. They start out by trying to be funny. “Hey man, lighten up. This PC bullshit needs to settle down, man. We’re just trying to have some fun.” But soon enough they start throwing bullshit claims out there and start talking about Sharia Law and that Clinton would enable Sharia Law. They’ll begin taking women away if they speak their mind(now just for reference, I actually heard this insanity at work from a woman my age.) Breitbart is like Fox News on alien steroids. Leni Riefenstahl had nothing on these guys. Breitbart makes the guy too lazy to actually read up on things on his own feel like he’s well versed in politics. They’re telling the completely inappropriate racial jokes and then saying “Hey, I’m just messing with you”, while slipping you a copy of ‘Mein Kampf’ under the table. They’re the smarmy guy at the bar that spews “facts” out at you and when you try to rebuke him he just gets louder and makes a fart joke.

This, my friends, is where America is at.

I’ve never let politics bug me like this before. I’d get mad in the past, but up to 2008 politics had always been a give and take game in this country. Despite whether you voted for the guy in office or not there was always some form of middle ground to be found. There’s always been political discourse. But since 2008 things have gotten so much more personal and ugly. Nasty ugly. I didn’t care for George Bush. I really didn’t care for Dick Cheney. But despite my dislike I still respected the office and felt that there was still at the core some humanity in there. Lots of greed, but still some semblance of humanity. I don’t see that humanity anymore. I see a bunch of fear, anger, posturing, and absolutely no attempts at being empathetic…on either side. I know it’s funny to you, but calling someone a snowflake because they’re not happy that White Nationalists are trying to take over the country isn’t all that cool. Being mature about things doesn’t mean you’re being politically correct. It just means your being decent about things.

Sorry for all of this. I’ll get back to the regularly scheduled program very soon. I just had to get this off my chest. Most of my close friends are rather distant these days. Getting older, growing apart. I’ve got one good friend at work and we see things very similarly, politically and socially. Lone liberals in a sea of gun nuts and Bible thumpers, but I think we’re both getting burnt out on all of this. We’re both at a loss for words anymore when it comes to the thought process of the Midwesterner. I need to find a way out of the hate cycle.

It’s hard not to feel like an elitist when you’re constantly surrounded by such vapidness.

Think I’ll get back to some more Genesis.

 

 

Running

Running is starting to become easier for me. Maybe it’s that I’m getting healthier as I get older. Or maybe it’s that I’m scared.

Scared of what?

Mortality. I’m “runnin’ from the devil”, perhaps. You get older you get closer to the big sleep. It’s inevitable. It’s gonna happen. “I’m still relatively young. I’ve got plenty of time left”, said the guy that died at 46-years old of a brain aneurysm. It doesn’t matter how old you are. The man in the bright nightgown could be anywhere. Maybe in that plate of pasta you’re eating too fast, or in an 18-wheeler barreling around the corner that’s slowly creeping into your lane. He could be with that guy in the camouflage onesie with an assault rifle flung over his shoulder walking into the bagel shop you’re getting breakfast in. That knock on the door, that tick in your chest, that twinge in your head; it could mean curtains when you least expect it.

So I’ll keep on running.

Maybe I’m running from myself. Maybe I’m running from someone I was a long time ago that I’ve long since divorced myself from. That guy that didn’t think about things like pre-hypertension, cholesterol levels, and hangovers. That guy that could care a less about credit scores, financial stability, and principal interest. He’s that guy that thought college tuitions, “sweet sixteens”, and high school graduations were a lifetime away. He’s that dude that robbed Peter to pay Paul, only to end up cheating Paul out of that money in a shell game and paid Peter back; but only half of it. He’s that dumbass that couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

I’ll lace up and run another lap then.

It could be that I just want to be fit. Running was never an easy thing for me. As a boy in Husky jeans and too tight of t-shirts I was the last one to finish the mile(besides that kid with the limp and lazy eye; though he usually beat me as well.) It didn’t help I had asthma. The wheezing and coughing never made for a triumphant finish. I was the guy that the gym coach was relieved to see he was alive at the end  of that 16 minute mile. “Glad you made it back Hub. I’ll tell the paramedics you’re okay.” As I got older the asthma subsided(except for run-ins with cats and dust), but the fear in running remained. “I’ll walk. It’s not so hard on the joints. That’s what my grandma tells me.” I was a 14-year old curmudgeon. Running seemed like this goal I’d never achieve. I’d have dreams of jogging. It felt invigorating, running in my dreams. I got quite a workout running down the freeway with the Hamburgler and Jean Valjean as we headed to some unknown destination on Tralfamadore. But, as soon as I woke up I’d decide to hold off. That has changed. At ten years old, the tightness in the chest and the pained staccato breaths were worrisome and cause for panic. What are they now?

Progress.

I don’t run the entire time I’m out. Actually, just a half mile to a mile at a time. I’m not killing myself. This isn’t a race. It’s trying to not drop dead of a heart attack at 50- years old, not become Adonis. Or Atlas. Or Ryan Gosling. Or even a tight Ed Harris. I’m mixing and matching. Run a little, walk a lot. Run a little, walk some more. I’ve seen the effects of long distance running on the human body over time. For the last 10 years I’ve seen my dad be rebuilt like a Midwestern Humpty Dumpty. He ran regulary through most of my childhood. Now he’s just running(walking slowly) to the orthopedic surgeon. An ankle surgery here, a knee surgery there. Maybe an Achilles heel for good measure. My brother got on the running kick a few years ago. He started out jogging in the neighborhood, then he worked his way out of the neighborhood and onto county roads. I thought “Good for him.” Then I’d see him and he’d have knee braces on. Then ankle braces. Then I’d see him less and less. Then nothing. It’s that “all or nothing” thing. Maybe he was working towards permanent retirement from physical activity and running was the key to that.

“How do  I completely destroy every limb, tendon, and joint in my body in less than a month?”

“Just start running, fatboy.”

Nah. That won’t be me. Running is just part of a balanced exercise diet. It’s merely a course in a long, sweaty, breathless meal. It’s the hot tamales sprint before the cool sangria stroll, or something like that. For many, exercise and running is the gateway to some fit and lean goal. For me it’s many things, but not really that. It’s not self-absorption or vanity that drives me to put one foot in front of the other in quick succession. It’s really just Darwinism in cross trainers. Survival of the fittest, literally. You see, when that zombie apocalypse hits I don’t want to be the guy consumed by a group of slow, trotting, decomposing walkers. I want to be the guy sprinting through the mall parking lot and making his way inside, past the Orange Julius stand and the DeBrand chocolate shop. I want to be the old guy jogging through the neighborhood with an Ensure in one hand and a AARP card in the other, taking his grandkids to go see some inappropriate movie their parents surely wouldn’t approve of. I don’t want to get winded at 75 years old while I tie my New Balance.

That’s really all I want out of running.

 

And Now For Something Completely Different

Man, I hate election time. I hate the campaigns and the vitriol. I can’t stand the ridiculous exclamations in front of hundreds of gullible “marks” that lap up whatever sour milk is poured in the bowl in front of them. Right here in my world currently it’s been nothing but some twisted comedy stand-up routine being replayed over and over on CNN, Fox News(?), MSN, and the like as liars in suits hit the road and tell me how horrible the guy I voted for(twice) is and how they’re going to “make America great again.” Their idea to do that is by limiting women’s rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the rights of anyone that doesn’t believe in their God, and suck on the teet of corporations with tons of money to line their pockets. Oh, and of course let any jack off with a pocketful of cash buy a gun. For some reason, I don’t believe their plans are going to do much for me. In fact, I don’t think they’re going to do much better than that guy I voted for(twice.) Granted, “hope” and “change” were rather few and far between(and I’m guessing the Nobel Peace Prize folks might be regretting that handout from a few years ago.) There’s been some pretty shady acts in the environmental, personal privacy, and drone strike areas for sure. And the Affordable Care Act, in my opinion, didn’t go far enough as far as I’m concerned, but it’s a start.

Anyways, I’m really here to say it’s been a long couple of weeks. I’m tired of the Trumps, the Carsons, the Cruz’, and the Clintons. I’ll say it, I’m supporting Mr. Sanders(Bernie, not the Colonel.) I think he’s speaking on a level everyone can understand(though quite a few don’t want to…..”Socialism! BAHHH!!” He’s not bending over for anyone but the American people. The disenfranchised. He’s walked the walk and talked the talk, and that’s someone I can support. The rest of ’em? They can f**k off.

Okay, apologies. I had the vomit up that. It’s been eating away at my stomach lining for quite some time now. Onto other things.

It’s been a long week, like I said. Work has been long and arduous, and they’ve actually expected me to work(whaaaa???) I haven’t had the drive to sit down and just write. My evenings have been spent working out after work, picking up my son at school, then heading home to cook dinner. We’ve been catching up on last year’s first season of The Flash and season three of Arrow. My wife and I recently watched the first season of Mr. Robot(one of the best television shows I’ve seen since The Sorpranos.) I’ve been falling asleep re-reading Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man. Heavy rotation of Zombi’s Shape Shift, Deerhunter’s Fading Frontier, Wilco’s Star Wars, and Oneohtrix Point Never’s Replica. I’m looking forward to the arrival of Carrie Brownstein’s new memoir Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl. I feel the need to feed my brain a bit.

Here’s the thing I’ve really been excited about lately and I haven’t shared this one yet with all of you. One of my great(and oldest) pals, as well as my partner-in-crime in Cambodia Highball Mr. Shane Darin Page and I have been working on a new multi-media project. It started as my pal Shane wanting to work on composing music for video games. He asked me if I’d want to help out and I said sure. Well it’s turned into something quite spectacular. I’m creating these pieces of music, writing narratives as if they’re descriptions of a scene that is happening as the music is playing, and Shane will be illustrating the narratives. So far, musically I’m pulling a lot of inspiration from John Carpenter scores and the music of Steve Moore, Steve Reich, and Terry Riley. At this point I still don’t know where it’s going or how it will be released, but I do know I’ll be sharing one of the pieces very soon.

Today was also especially exciting as I got home and there was a package on the porch waiting for me. It was the Arturia Microbrute Analog Synthesizer I bought online. Yes, this is my first foray into analog synths. If things go well, then I may move up to the Moog Sub Phatty. If it doesn’t work out, then hey I only blew $260. I think I’m gonna have a lot of fun with this thing, and it may play into both this project with Mr. Page and the next album I do on my own.

That’s all I got. I’m hoping next week some of my lust for writing returns. I’m sure it will. It better.

constants are changing

As I walked outside this morning to leave for work in the black of 5:40am Eastern time I was greeted by something quiteIMG_0891 wonderful: cool air. Yes, as the garage door lifted for me to walk around and get in my car there was, dare I say, a briskness in the air. Coming from merely three days prior being 86 degrees, this is what the morons call “a miracle”. Sure, a mere anomaly in the scheme of things, especially when we’re talking about mid-August in Indiana, but let me tell you I quite liked it. Around 8 am I headed out for my morning walk at work and was greeted with dark gray overcast skies and a 59 degree chill in the air.

This day has put me in the mood for fall, folks. You know, I’ve done all right this summer. I’ve gotten used to the overbearing heat, the rays of the ozone-stripped sun, and sweat streaming down my back on my afternoon walks. Hell, I’ve even gotten some color on this Germanic complexion of mine. But truth be told, it’s all just a facade. A charade. As John Lovitz used to say on SNL, “I’m merely acting!” Yep, in the summer I just play the part of someone likes the hot. In reality I’m myself when the days get shorter, the leaves change color, and jackets are a necessity. I love hooded sweatshirts, brisk walks, and dark grey skies dominating my headspace.

This is Boards of Canada weather for me.

Whenever the air gets a chill and coats are worn walking about town I’m always ready for BoC to soundtrack whatever I might be doing. Raking pine needles, cleaning the house, a stroll through the wooded neighborhood,…pretty much whatever. Don’t get me wrong, I can listen to Music Has The Right To Children, Geogaddi, or The Campfire Headphase year-round. In the last few years they’ve become pretty much my favorite band(and that’s saying a lot), but autumn is when their music seems to strike a particular chord with me that they don’t any other time of the year.

It’s been a strange week. Not sure why, really. My dad celebrated his 69th birthday on the 18th. He’s currently recuperating from surgery he had three weeks ago. He had a bone spur removed from his ankle. Seems it was rubbing against his Achilles tendon, causing him a lot of pain. So they went in and severed his tendon, shaved down the spur, then reattached the tendon. It’s three months of not putting any weight on that leg. No rehab, but three months of a cast and not doing much of anything. He’s got this roll around thing that lets him get around, but he’s still pretty much home bound. The wife and I are taking him and my mom out for dinner Saturday evening at a place called The Bonefish Grill. Should be fun, and a chance for my dad to get out of his leather chair at home(as well as my mom getting out for a change, too.)

A friend of mine asked me about working on some music with him. Sharing music files back and forth. Working on music as if we’re scoring films that don’t exist. We’re both big fans of music scores, both in film and video games, and we want to take a crack at that. It’s hard getting together, so this file sharing thing might pan out pretty well. He’s into electronic music, and I’m more into making the organic stuff, so we’ll mix both. It should be pretty interesting.

My wife found out this afternoon that one of her good friends probably won’t live through the weekend. She had cancer years ago and was in remission when it came back with a vengeance. It spread everywhere. She’d gone in for surgery to have to stints removed from her kidneys as they were failing when she just crashed. The docs said she’s got 24 to 48 hours to get things in order. Her and her husband have five children, ranging from 5 to 15 years old. Penny(her name) is one of the sweetest ladies you’d ever meet. She’d do anything for anybody. She was in PTO(Parent Teacher Organization) with my wife at our childrens’ Elementary school for probably over 5 years. I can’t even imagine what that family is going through right now. Five kids are gonna lose their mom. A husband will lose his wife. Bad things happen to good people all the time; everyday. Doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.

Anyways, I’m ready for fall to be here for good. I’m ready for some changing of the seasonal guard. I’m ready for my wool coat and leather gloves. I’m ready to see my breath in the air again. I’m ready for a good cup of coffee to warm my insides at 6am on a chilly October morning.

Like I said, it’s been a strange week. Reading back, I guess I can see why.

IMG_0890

Saturday Feelies

Not much to report.

Hot today.

Very hot, really.

Three and a half mile walk/jog, with some yard work and gardening thrown in for fun.

Having a Black and Blue by Dogfish Head Brewery this evening. A pint and a half of blackberry/blueberry Belgian-style ale. Tasty. And strong.

Kids back in school this week.

Lots of that transition stuff that bogs down the soul.

Things will improve. I just know it.

Time to get back to some music. Com Truise, No Joy, now some Carlton Melton.

All of you are much appreciated. My blogging friends and cohorts. My brethren.

Peace out.

 

 

Resolutions…An All Year Thing

FullSizeRender (16)Where did the idea of resolutions in the New Year come from, anyways? Sure, I guess it seems appropriate that January 1st is like a do-over button in our life. With that new beginning it seems like a good spot to start spouting about how you’re going to change this or that. Well I’m here to tell you that’s just a bunch of malarkey. MALARKEY! You see, life isn’t like a video game. You don’t have extra lives or continues if you add some quarters into the machine. No, life keeps on rolling whether you want it to or not, baby. You can’t just smoke for 50 years, then on January 1st of year 51 say “Hey, it’s January 1st and I’m done smoking.” Well, you can. And I’d suggest you do quit, but the damage has been done….

Okay, what I’m getting at is that you don’t wait for some specific date, say January 1st, to make positive changes in your life. Do it the second you’re ready. Do it in April, May, June, or September. I guess if January 1st happens to be that day then do it then. Just don’t hold New Year’s Resolutions in such high regard. That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself. And the more pressure is bigger the fall when things don’t work out.

Back in 2012 the wife and I started this budget thing. We didn’t make it a New Year’s thing. We made it a “now” thing. It was a truly positive thing for us, both as a family and a couple. It’s amazing the stress and anguish being tight on money can do to you. I never realized it until I was out of it and looking in. We’re in the best shape we’ve been in…ever. We can enjoy life and not worry about the next big bill.

In 2002 I made a choice to get healthy. It wasn’t a New Year’s resolution. One day in February I suddenly just felt bad. Just, lousy. I knew I needed to make a change, so I got a membership to a fitness place that was affiliated with the hospital in town. In two years I’d dropped almost 50 lbs just with diet and exercise. It’s remained a priority in my life ever since. Of course there’s always room for improvement and I strive to continue those healthy improvements in my life, but when my kids know that me going to the gym is a regular thing I know I’ve made some good choices for myself. Granted, I can’t do push-ups with my two youngest on my back anymore, but they’re pretty heavy nowadays. Don’t judge me!

These are just two examples of the whole resolutely committing to a positive change in your life. Don’t put that New Year’s pressure on yourself. If you want to make a change, then do it. If you’re not ready yet, then do it when you’re ready. Make resolutions an all year thing, not just a one day thing.

I won’t judge you if you’re not ready yet. Promise.