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Archive for March, 2011

 
|| March 31, 2011 || 5:07 am || Comments (7) ||

Laurie, on the internet, is wry and funny and perceptive and writes like sentences are formed up in her very marrow. Laurie, on the phone, is solemnly hysterical and incisive and sharp as a freshly-stropped razor. Sometimes a friendship is written on the inside of your wrist without you knowing it, and then when a person shows up you instinctively recognize them; you can say anything without flinching internally as you do so. Man, do I ever like this woman. She is a force to be reckoned with.

“He reminds me of my first serious boyfriend,” I said. “An addict alcoholic who drove around delivering pizzas with a 40 between his legs. I was so in love with him. He was perpetually stoned, read three books a week, had The Atlantic and the New Yorker on the back of his fucked up toilet. That’s still my type, but I’m older now. I can hang out with this guy for five hours at a coffee shop and never necessarily see him again.”

You laughed and told me I was Janeane Garofalo and that no one ever moves to Dayton, except I’m not and I did.  Now? Five hours over coffee is fine, I promised. It’s so much better than wrecking years on a person with ultimate designs on other voices, bodies and rooms.  I learned everything I needed to know for a lifetime on that date at Planet X before it burned down, except that that brilliant stoner’s naked butt was cute, and honestly? I could have done without that. It was enough to make out in the car with the ice storm hitting the windows around us after, to slide inside across the frozen lawn alone, leaning against the door giddy from it all. The rest of it doesn’t do me any good now.

*************************

I tell you things, Jett Superior. I open my mouth. I talk on the phone, the Alabama smoothness of your voice flowing over my line, making me hate everything less, I admit it. I do things I don’t normally want to do for certain people for no reason, and I don’t know why.  You have some voodoo working.

What I didn’t tell you about that 90’s boy because it’s come back little by little since we hung up was that he wore this stupid hat that I nonetheless loved, and a hoodie from the Gap that I stole. The night before he moved away, a few months before I followed him, he punched a wall on a bad trip and ended up dumped on my porch the next day by a roommate who had to get the truck back and couldn’t afford the dead weight of a guy with a broken hand who couldn’t drive or carry anything.

“I’m sorry to make you babysit him,” the roommate said. “I just can’t deal with his shit right now. He’s a liability.”

Well, then. I was mowing my lawn on the first warm day of the season, while this man I thought I loved stood across from me, bracing himself with his feet between mine, bloodshot, still drunk and crazy.

“Do you wanna go to Santa Fe? DO YOU?” he said, swaying from side to side while I surveyed the concrete and thought what a fucking disaster it would be if he actually hit it. He thought he was hilarious when he was wasted, and he giggled thinking of the two of us taking this shit show on the road to New Mexico. “Do you wanna sign on for this? DO YOU?”

Hell yeah, I did. I was a stupid late-bloomer of 23. I wanted all of that ugliness, for some reason, then. I think I mistook it for beautiful, or maybe it was just the only way I thought it could be.

Well-placed moments sucked me in. He waited outside the ladies room in an Ohio gay bar that he took a friend and me to as a favor because we wanted to dance, to give me a kiss never yet surpassed, a kiss I can feel to my toes right this second, a kiss I’d tweet out to make the world jealous if I could, because it was that good and I’m a geek now. He quoted Whitman to me even before he knew of my deep attachment to everything that man did and said and stood for.

“Once, I pass’d through a populous city…Yet now, of all that city, I remember a woman I casually met there, who detain’d me for love of me; Day by day and night by night we were together,—All else has long been forgotten by me.”

He told me I was his soul mate — a phrase I still hate — until he changed his mind.

“You’re too good for anyone,” he said, and Lord knows there’s nothing I hate like a coward. “And you’re certainly too good for me.”

I waited out another acid trip later. He swung back and forth on our friend’s shed door while I sat on the back steps smoking, sober. He’s married now, I understand, and has some kids. I hope he quit drinking, but I don’t know.

*************************
40 years. 40 is amazing when you think about it, but it’s better when you don’t.

*************************
Jett: horseshit.
nobody moves TO Dayton
me: it would have been better if i’d never seen him again.
I MOVED TO DAYTON
FOR A BOY
Jett: You need therapy.
me: i don’t write about my life on the blog, you see.
Jett: NOBODY MOVES TO DAYON
me: shut up. i know.
i did.
Jett: DAYTON, either
me: i moved there on purpose.
in a teal cavalier, with only what would fit in it.

*************************
I’ll sit on a beach with you soon, I think. I imagine a fire there. Answers will come clearer, or fade behind the moon, who knows?

We’ll have our way with our partially-shared 40th year. It’ll bring things into focus. It’ll kill. The bass will drop so right it’ll fix any possible busted groove. It’ll play our favorite songs on a loop.

I’ve never seen your face. How is that possible? No, really. How is that possible?

Happy birthday.


 
|| March 30, 2011 || 6:06 am || Comments (9) ||

I like Kevin a lot; he’s on the shortlist of people I’d like to step out from behind a keyboard and have a protracted conversation with me. I have a feeling that, within the space of three beers and one philosophical disagreement, I’d find his perspective indispensable.

Hi there, Precious Muffinassedly Ones.

Look. I always suffer sleep deprivation, we all know that.  Insomnia always dances around my periphery, making nyah-nyah faces and crowing about its power over me. My typical M.O. is to cheerily flip it the bird and go along my merry way. Everybody’s got their thing, you know? Insomnia is mine, no big deal. I’d rather do this than have to deal with a shit-ton of other things I can name. So I wake up earlier (or more) or stay up later or lie in bed telling God a litany of things I have no right or business to worry about, which is my version of counting sheep….I tick off  the world’s troubles and ask God to take them away. So what?

But oh man, right now I’m the midst of one of the most vicious cycles I have had in a while. It started just before the Japan mess (two days, I think?) and has been feverishly groping me like a slovenly old pervert. INSOMNIA DOES NOT GROPE SEXILY, MUFFINASSES. It has clumsy fingers and smells bad, pleh.

Tonight I was on Twitter and it was atypically bitchy and edgy and angry and I was all ‘I hate this‘ and then I started being obstreperous to make myself feel better (sometimes I behave badly just to feel a little alive, you know?).  But then I remembered that I get super-stoked about giving presents and so now here we are.

Leave me a comment about anything, tell me about your day, give me a story or a link; complain about something or be sad about something or make up a dirty limerick. That’s your entry for a drawring I will do in a couple days for a magical thing called a TACKY PACK™ that I used to give away on the regular back before I moved the old voyeurnal over here. The TACKY PACK™ is essentially a melange of great goodness and übercool radness. I don’t have to suck any corporate dick to bring it to you, and there is no ulterior motive save for the fact that I’m getting my jollies by giving a (many-partsed, multi-faceted) gift to somebody. There used to be a page devoted to telling you how great the TACKY PACK™ is in all its random iterations, but it’s long gone. You’re just gonna have to take my word for it and know that present-giving is one of my strengths. I think it’s the one meant to balance my propensity toward addictive behaviors, but I can’t say that with complete surety. What I can say with a great degree of confidence is this: Tweeting about this to your followers won’t get you an extra entry, but it would be a cool thing to do.

UPDATE, 11:10 p, CST: Post amended to add this video, which delights me.

 
|| March 28, 2011 || 5:07 am || Comments (3) ||

Scott has the distinction of being the only person to have been invited to guest post twice on my voyeurnal….well, at least until the end of this week, anyway. I love the way that his brain connects dots and his pencil adds other dots to connect to as necessary (hint: that sort of thing is always necessary….haven’t I taught you people a thing?) I once said I wanted to lick his brain or something of that nature and I think that made him afraid of me for a very, very long time. Then I had a dream about his wife going fishing, which was somehow less weird and Scott seemed to take a shine to me a little thereafter. Or something. Who cares? The point is this: Scott’s brain drops my jaw and his writing makes me want to find better ways to present my own dots and their connections.

I’ve never fully escaped the awkwardness of having returned empty-handed from my much lauded quest to find the ultimate answer to everything. I cringe when I remember how people gathered to see me off with great adulation and the highest of expectations. I might die on the road. It might take years, decades. Everyone knew, I was sure, that I would return with that answer. I was the cleverest of boys after all, resourceful and creative. I felt as though the hopes of everyone rested upon my silly, overrated shoulders.

In times since, sitting quietly in the corner of coffee shops and writing my wandering words, doing my small work, I’ve imagined eyes falling upon me with consternation, disappointment and dismay. I hear questions they do not ask me. “What happened? Why are you here? Where the hell is my answer?” I never make eye contact. I try hard as I can to look like someone else, someone who never accepted a mantle from anyone.

The truth is that I slipped back without fanfare after only a few miserable days, convinced that answers could not be found by going away. There’s nowhere to go. Roads lead both ways and neither direction has anything in particular to recommend it. Everyone from there quests for answers here, and vice versa. We were assholes and fools, all of us on that road. This was the answer I found, though not one anyone wanted to hear.

I’ve never stopped looking for other answers, though. I’ve discovered a few, I think, though they’re not particularly sexy. One of the keys to human life, for example, is getting up in the morning to do the work at hand. Inspired yet? I know. Another secret is recognizing people who bring you joy and people who bring you suffering. The distinction should inform the way you love them. In your love for hurtful people, for example, do not become beholden to them, or let them become so to you. If a person brings you comfort, healing or joy, on the other hand, love them as often and in as many ways as you can. Bear their burdens and let them bear yours. Most people bring you both joy and suffering, of course. Life is messy. Err on the side of wary but sincere communion. And remember, you don’t have to know someone for very long or in any particular form to know them well. Maybe you have only read their poetry. Maybe you have spoken their funeral. Maybe you have only seen the amazing curve of their back from across the room. Maybe you have borne their children. Maybe you have written them a few emails or tweets. Maybe you have raised them from birth. You can still love them with all the means at your disposal, and find creative ways to enjoy them with all of your senses and talents, and make yourself available to be consumed by their appetites. These are all answers, secrets to life and joy, mysteries unveiled. You cannot discover these things by questing for them, however. You have to live life in all of its mundane reality with your eyes open and focused. Everyday heroics. Commonplace glory.

New people set out every day to find the answer and bring it back. I wish them luck. I applaud their enthusiasm. I feel kinship with their naivete. I want them to feel free to return to us. There is no shame in hopeful energy and youthful bravado. Who knows? Maybe there’s something out there after all. It could happen. Anything is possible.

Later. Love.

P.S. – This piece was inspired, such as it was, in reflection upon my having recently turned forty, an experience I share with our friend, Jett Superior. Happy birthday, Jett Superior. Hello, friends.

 
|| March 26, 2011 || 7:07 am || Comments (6) ||

Look. The only reason I asked Kristine to participate in my birthday carnival is because the girl is smoking hot and I’m starting the flattery now just in case I ever (decide to bat for the other team and) want to have a torrid and lusty affair with her one day.  Also, she is married to a Jarhead, and I want to remain in the Marine Corps’ good graces; since I am married and not allowed to sally about with various Corporals anymore this is the easiest way I know to do so. Um, oorah?


 
|| March 25, 2011 || 5:07 am || Comments (6) ||

Adam P. Knave popped up in my e-mail chat window one morning and has been in my life ever since. He is as likely to tell me that I am wrong as he is to tell me that he adores me; I respect his integrity and his abilities. He is an amaaaazing writer, prolific and nimble-minded and genius in his approach. The internet at large vastly under-appreciates the wealth of good writing he lays out to be devoured for free on the daily; I think the internet is stupid for doing so. Also? Go buy one of his books so you can feed that fool’s cat and your imagination.

Some people are born to grace. Others are born to style. A very few are born to power. The rarest though are born to freedom.  Darlene was one of them. Her life started in the chill air at the base of the mountain and she grew there, tall as a wild flower and tough as a nail.

By the time she was sixteen she wanted to own the world. At the ripe old age of twenty-two she decided, instead, that she wanted to simply know the world, and that by her knowing come to hold it in her self and that would be the best kind of owning. The sort where neither party is lessened, but instead enhanced through their mutual knowing and love and internal ownership. Darlene partied as if she had no tomorrow and cared as if every day would be eternal. She saw no contradiction in her life and would have laughed at anyone who claimed to see one.

And then a thing happened. There’s the desire to label it: A funny thing, a strange thing, an unexplainable thing, a thing of consequence – but Darlene herself would shake her head and raise her eyebrows (She always thought she could raise just one at a time but was wrong. No one bothered to correct her.) and laugh at such a notion. A thing happened. The rest is in the details and the reality of a thing.

The details were this: A rabbit in the road. A small child running after it. A tiny, fuel-efficient car. Night.

The reality was this: The child had been carrying her pet rabbit back home and the rabbit squirmed, dropping free. Of course it ran away from the child, which meant into the road. And of course the child
followed it, blindly grasping with outstretched hands, cooling now out of contact with the fur of their favorite texture. Darlene was on the other side of the street, walking down the block to return a dish to a friend. The driver of the car, a tourist actually, saw the rabbit and started to swerve. He started to swerve right toward the child. However the driver saw the child before his hands moved to swerve and so he went the other way.

And swerved onto the street and into Darlene.

There was no “Darlene dramatically saved the child” or anything of the sort. Events happen. They unfold the way they do. And that’s about that.

Now, what happened to Darlene, you might wonder. You aren’t alone. Darlene herself wondered that when she woke up in a hospital. The doctors gathered around and looked worried. Darlene assured them, through still-slurring lips, that nothing they could tell her would phase her. After all, she pointed out, she was still alive. Anything after that would be simply details and reality, once more.

And so she heard the story of the accident again and at least heard what she after referred to as “The punch line:” Her left leg was gone from mid-thigh down. Those small cars are light, but still heavy enough.

Darlene heard the news, and nodded thoughtfully and chewed on it this way and that, actually working her jaw the way she did when she was chewing on a thought – she actually chewed – and then she looked at her doctor and said, quite simply:

“Well. All right then. Anything else?”

Of course they stood around and kept in ear shot and waited. They knew, by their reckoning, that a delayed reaction was still on its way. News of loss like that didn’t simply wash off someone. It hit and it hit hard. Except Darlene seemed to be a duck where trouble was concerned. And so they started physical therapy and her only questions were on the colors she could get an artificial leg in, and then how durable they were. Would she be able to climb a mountain, learn to kick box, dance ballet or swim – these were her concerns.

She didn’t let on that she had no desire to learn to kick box and always hated ballet as a child. They were, for her, fun questions. It made everyone squirm when they had to keep saying “Well you SHOULD be able to…” as if she would, this time, break down and get upset at the idea that she might not. They refused to catch on.

And so one day, when she was getting ready to leave (a temporary artificial leg in place, and her order for a bright purple, carbon fiber one already sized for and placed) she sat everyone who worked with her, whom she had come to care for, down and gave them each a small piece of quartz.

“Now, what you got to understand is this isn’t no healing crystal stuff. But look at that, in your hand, there. It’s impossible. It’s atom aligned and grouped in a specific way, every time, to create crystalline structures. Reliably. No matter what you do, those babies will go on and dance their dance and create their own thing and refuse you. Because it’s what they do.

“Now me, you all worry, I can see it. Don’t lie. But me, I’m like that crystal. And no, I don’t mean fragile and easily shattered. I mean I’ll form my own structures, no matter what you might think is going to happen. Because when I leave here I’ll be in the world and won’t ask for a lick more than I had before. Because, me, I had everything.

“I had myself a home to be in, and the world to be in and a good vehicle and the sun and the moon and the people. I had books to read and show me other people and places and times, and I had myself some television and movies to do the same. Distractions could distract but none more than the morning dew on a flower, reflecting the sunrise, while a cup of coffee steamed, making my cheek as wet as the petals I gazed at.

“And now, well I got the same things, don’t I just? I’m down a leg, it’s true, and I did like that leg, I admit. It was ticklish and the big toe had a tendency toward ingrown nails and overall it was a good leg, it did its job and was a comfort to me, to be sure. But I’ll never have to think about shaving it again, or if the joints will last until I’m old, or a hundred other tiny worries and bits of upkeep. I ain’t glad to be rid of the leg, but I can see both sides of the issue.

“Even that ain’t it though. I lost a leg. In exchange for a kid not losing her best friend in the world or worse – the other way around. Small price to pay, in this world, and one I pay gladly. So when you think of me, remember that bit of quartz I gave you. Nothing you do will force it to not try and be itself. Y’all should do the same. Like I do, and plan to keep doing.”

Darlene stood and left them there, in silence. Soon enough she was gone, off into her own life again. A life that she lived in order to know the world, that she might own it in her heart. A world where the world would grow to know her, and own her in its heart just the same. She still partied as if she had no tomorrow and cared as if every day would be eternal. She still saw no contradiction in her life and would have laughed at anyone who claimed to see one. And sometimes, just sometimes, she would kick them with a metal re-enforced artificial leg, right in the shin.

Because she could.

 
|| March 24, 2011 || 6:51 am || Comments (5) ||

The conversation that predicated my sitting down to type this went like:
“I’m unfamiliar with ugly birthdays. What do they look and sound like?”

“Slouching towards the barcalounger, they stumble with uneven steps.  This one calls itself ‘45′.”

“Forty is ambling toward me. It’s a couple weeks away, and I’m smiling at it.
“I don’t even have to get my birthdays drunk anymore, that’s how terrific they are.”

“Forty was actually rather anti-climatic for me.  It just was.  I don’t feel whatever I think it should feel like. ”

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

When I was six and standing near the merry-go-round

(don’t get me started on merry-go-rounds and the criminal lack of them in the modern child’s world. Holy God, modern children are such pussies, Muffinasses. When you treat your children like intensely breakable things, you will wind up with intensely broken adults….you heard it here first)

a little girl named Perry approached me. She was one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen; even at six years old I knew that her slightly-vulnerable gorgeousness would beat people senseless before they even realized they’d been struck at all.

“I cain’t come to your party, Jett.”

“How come?”

“Momma says we cain’t buy you a present, so I cain’t come.”

“It’s okay,” the obliviously shitheaded six-year-old me said with an easy shrug, “you don’t have to get me a present. You can just give me money.”

I am quite horrified when I remember that moment. I had no grasp of the notion of poverty, having known only good things and no want in my life at that point. I didn’t know any better, but still: I blame that six-year-old, I judge her harshly.

When I went home and told my mother, she wasn’t angry at or caustic with me. In fact, she was very patient, though matter-of-fact. “You can’t say things like that, Jett. It’s not polite. What Perry meant was that they didn’t have enough money for a gift, and her mother thinks it would be impolite or embarrassing to send her over without one, so she is keeping Perry home.”

I just wanted my beautiful friend there. I had ruined it. I could have just said, “Come be by me on my day; that will make me happy.”

I didn’t know any better, but it doesn’t feel like that excuse fits the hole it is trying to fill.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

I was the kid with the gigantic parties: My parents buying two fistfuls of wristbands for the amusement park, my parents  building a gigantic bonfire and pulling horses out of the paddock for rides, my parents renting a whole skating rink in Tulsa.

Somehow, it was never obnoxious, though. I think this was because –while I thought they were great and all– I never staked these events for bragging rights. It wasn’t, after all, my money that had made this terrific thing happen, it was my folks’. They weren’t doing it to be ostentatious or showy, either. My parents were doing it because they both loved a good party and were both born with a top-fueled hosting gene and they loved me beyond the scope of anything I could fathom. The parties were fun, but ultimately not what I cared about, I don’t know why. I was grateful to have them, but I don’t remember being garrotted when they wafted away in the mist that was my parents’ marriage.

Imagine my slight shrug as I say this to you: They just weren’t that important to me overall, I don’t know why.

Over the years, I’ve always been happy and delighted to receive birthday calls, cards, thoughts but I have never placed much emphasis on my birthday save for a couple that I viewed as milestones. Twenty-five, thirty: Those were  both important to me somehow. The ones before and after? Not especially so. We all know that guy who heralds his coming birthday for the six weeks leading up to the thing. I am usually the exact inverse of that.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

I was born, shouting and holding my own head up, on the first of April, nineteen seventy-one. Hospital staff, in keeping with the spirit of the date, told Henry I was a boy. For the first twenty or so minutes of my life, my father had a son. Later that day my extended family gathered around the nursery window, most all of them, clogging up the hallway with their exuberance and their staggering numbers. My first birthday party happened as I stretched and retracted in a hospital bassinet; I was surrounded with unbelievable amounts of love from my first day on the planet.

In truth, I think that’s why I didn’t need a day of acknowledgment or adulation fixed solely on me over the years.  I was told I was special in a myriad of ways every waking day of my life.

Oh my God, what a treasure, you know?

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

This year I am forty and I am doing it differently: I’m throwing myself a party. Forty is a big damn deal, and worthy of celebrating. I’m not having some existential crisis. I’m not wailing at the death rattle of my youth. I am reveling in a life that has been and continues to be a gift. I’ve got it good, I’m excited about that, what’s not to celebrate?

So I’ve asked some friends to surround me and help me do so. Just as if I’d throw a party in facespace and everyone would laugh and enjoy one another and swap stories, so it will be out here in Cyberia. I’ve asked the aforementioned friends to show up to the party. This is how I charged them:  The theme is: write a love letter to me. My definition of ‘love letter’ is pretty broad and kinda loosey-goosey. It goes something like this: When I hear Emmylou Harris sing ‘Red Dirt Girl’ I think she’s written a love letter to me. When I get mail in the mailbox –even junky, tree-killing shit– I think the postal service has written a love letter to me. When I can sleep through a night, my body has written me a love letter. When a picture, a word, a song, a gesture dings a nerve or delights me, it’s a love letter.

I am blessed to have a host of people in my life that will say ‘yes’ when I ask something like this of them, so starting tomorrow, wander over here for a few minutes of every day over the course of the next two weeks. There’ll  be something new in this space each day from stellar people I love. I am very(!) excited(!) at this prospect. “We’ll live like KINGS! Damn hell ass KINGS!”

It takes a fortnight to celebrate good and proper, after all.