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Posts Tagged ‘pocket philosopher’

|| January 26, 2011 || 10:19 pm || Comments (9) ||

Sometimes a lack of humility creeps up my spine only to take root at the base of my brain and flower there. In the center of these flowers are fireworks of discontent and fury which –once the flowers reach their full self–righteous bloom– launch themselves into all parts of my headmeat, screeching and sending a breathtaking volley of majestic rage-colors all the way.

Then they magically transform themselves into sense-seeking missiles (that is, ‘common sense’, the thing my mother placed so clear an emphasis on when she chiseled away at raising me against the grain of my father’s egomaniacal urgings) and obliterate all manner of things that I was taught about issues like safety and personal decorum.

I am reckless with myself in these moments. In certain instances, I fully intend to be reckless with others as well. Most times, I do not. It’s in the shadow of the latter, when my nerves have stopped snapping static and a dull sorry ache has settled into me, that I find an uneasy quiet. In the center of that imperfect peace, that suspicious truce with self, I can feel the tug that predicates a subconscious hum. I listen for what follows, because it always follows….it always has, really, but over the years I have grown worse and worse at turning a mocking sneer toward it.

My insides are insistent: ‘I was made for love, I was made for love, I was made for love; foolish, fevered and gung-ho girl:

‘Let love win.’

|| July 20, 2010 || 12:06 am || Comments (13) ||

It is nineteen-eighty-something. I am sitting easy in tenth-grade English, my insides more sullen than my exterior portrays. This is rare for me; I seem to have a direct feed from my heart to my face, so that my expression nearly always announces the storm or still in my chest. At this point in my life, I am unaware what a handicap this is.

In fact, I’m acutely unaware of that aspect of myself until much later on down the line.

Ms. Reid hands out stacks of journals, four of us dispersing them into random hands and the other fourteen shuffling, trading, passing until each speckled composition book finds the owner of the contents seated between its covers. It is a ritual that we never planned on, this haphazard retrieval of words, and it happens every school day for four years. How many degrees of separation do our words find themselves subject to until they are returned to us? How many people lay hands or eyes on them before they come home?

In Ms. Reid’s class there is potential for eighteen pairs to do so, and in truth Mrs. Reid can be counted twice because she will lay both hands and eyes on them before dutifully returning them to their respective owners each day.

I am compelled to go against the grain, to not be what anybody expects on any given day. This is not to say that I am difficult as a rule, but there are indeed times when I am wildly driven to dig in my heels for no other purpose than –by the force of my will– to dent the space I am occupying.

This is a Tuesday and this is one of those times.

“Okay,” Ms. Reid says. She barely reached her old lectern so she had her husband make her a new one. Smaller ones weren’t imposing enough, she explained to me via letter later on when I was a continent away, they were too childlike and flimsy looking.  Thus she found it necessary to commission Charles for the building of a petite yet monstrous podium. Even then she had to wear three-inch pumps to make it mostly convincing.

“No freewriting today.”

(I once received swooning, gushy words for the lyrics to ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Swooning, gushy words written in a perfect, windswept hand –in case you are unaware– are approximately fourteen-hundred times better than the same rendered in a messy, ink-smudged fashion.  Really, the only time that those sorts of words should be messy is when they are whispered sloppily, ardently, into a panting lover’s ear.

To this day I have not confessed my bold-faced plagiarism of righteous classic rock. How can I? Mrs. Reid was so in love with that notebook page. Besides, I’m holding both the story and the apology in reserve for when they ask me to speak at her funeral someday. HOPEFULLY AN UN-SOON SOMEDAY.)

“Today I want you to tell me a Truth.”  We all know what she means, except for the twins. Not those twins, the wry and funny girls I count as two of the best friends I will ever know….the other set. It consists of the alien and indecipherable George and Geoff.

Their brains are on a higher plane, and it is one where basic English is basic gobbledygook and everything has to be spoon-fed to them. Granted, George is worse-off than Geoff in this department: He requires three times the explaining, so that even his brother will grow exasperated with him, berating him in their heavy, clipped personal tongue. They will go on, in all their stilted oddness, to audition for MTV. They will create art that can be considered frightening when viewed in the context of the knowledge I carry about their early years. They will never fully learn the give any kind of shit about the language of this plane.

I purse my lips. I am Contrary Personified.  I look at the blank page, defying it to speak to the place where my hard consonants keep watch at the door. I AM NOT SOME CHEAP, MONKEY-DANCING, PENCILGEEK SHILL. And I don’t know where I stand on Truths, because glomming onto one of them too hard will fuck your day up at some point in your life. This is what I think I know, even at sixteen. This is what I will continue to maybe-know later on, too.

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

We stand ringing the truth, our mouths expectant. Everyone has an opinion on it.

“That can’t possibly be the truth! The truth is shorter than that, and it makes grunting noises when it walks.”

“I know this is the truth, because my aunt showed it to me when I stayed with her the summer before last.”

“I’ve never seen a Truth that looked like that.”

“Let’s let it loose and see what happens.”

“I say we vote on whether or not this is the truth.”

“I don’t see how that’s possible,” I say, “Truth is different to everyone. We could all stand here describing it all day long, extensive interviews could be conducted by The Powers That Be and at the end of the day they’ll have eighteen differing versions lined up. We will have gotten nowhere.”

They all turn on me, varying degrees of savage showing on their faces. A couple are clenching their fists, ready to let them fly should I let that statement stand. The truth can’t be nothing.

The truth is always something. Wait, isn’t it?

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

Impertinently and carefully, I use exactly one line to say

There are no truths, only experiences.

and wait there quietly with my journal open on my desk for a respectable amount of time before dropping it into the basket on Ms. Reid’s desk. She passes it back to me the next day, and in red felt-tip ink she has penned her curt displeasure, ‘Then you should have written about an experience.‘ There is a fat red circle at the top of the page, because fat red circles are the scholarly hallmark of assholey teenage behavior.

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

Two years after the fat red circle I am called forward in front of some two-hundred(ish) students. Intermingled with them are faculty and parents. Out of those two-hundred –all of them about to graduate– I have been selected to receive the Senior prose writing award. It is printed on stiff vellum and has an eagle, our school mascot, embossed at the top. It is unexpected, this certificate, and I am pleased to have received it. However, lyrics to ‘Stairway To Heaven’ notwithstanding, I am unsurprised.

I receive two other awards related to academics, these I expect. I am about as indifferent to them as I could possibly be.

The fourth time my name is called, my brows fly up in a startle. I’ve been given the Senior government award. I am stunned.

After the ceremony, Mr. Lee finds my mother.

“I’ll tell you, Mrs. Superior, Jett wadn’t always my most driven student. Hell, she wadn’t always my most  awake one. When she was awake and involved, she lit a fire under those other kids, and she stirred some terrific discussions, kept things rolling.  There are  a few reasons why I gave your daughter this award, but the two most distinct ones are that she never was afraid to speak her piece, and she never was afraid of hearing somebody’s else’s, either. Ma’am, she was not the most accomplished of my students, but I can assure you that she is the most promising of all of them.” I think my mother treasures his words more than any other thing she’s ever heard about me in her life. I feel like she has never been more thrilled with me than she is in this moment.

Twenty-one impossible years later, on a stifling July day, I will find out I was right. I will find Mr. Lee’s words written on a piece of paper and clipped carefully to the government  award, which I gifted to my mother the night I won it. I will marvel that she thought to write them down where I would surely be able to find them one day.

It will set a blaze of fierce warmth and self-confidence in my belly.

|| August 7, 2009 || 12:27 am || Comments (0) ||

He was asked every time…every time that he could recall, anyway.

“Is this really the hill you want to die on, son?” This was his father, head so impossibly distant that to peg its details against the sky the boy had to squint.

“Yes,” the boy said each of those times, once he was sure he was looking his father in the eye, once he had squared his shoulders in a stance that he approximated as brave.

The boy was given this passive out in a myriad of situations and outright fuckups and still he said with his ‘yes’, I am not a quitter, I am not a coward, I would rather find myself foolish than forgotten. And he would continue to push headlong into mistakes that became lessons that became Knowing.

Wasn’t Knowing, after all, a mount worthy of shedding ones tears and guts upon?

One day, when the boy was of an age that he no longer had to cock back his head and squint to find his father’s eyes, an old woman approached him. He had been mindlessly tending the inventory of his hurts while seated on a bench beside a fountain. It was autumn, and the bare fingertips emerging from the wool tubes that fit snugly against the fingers’ knuckles worked at a corner of the boy’s jacket.

She shuffled across the wide brick walk, this stranger, until she stood facing him; the messy fluff of her hair busied itself defying the sobriety of the look on her face.

“God wants me to tell you,” the old woman said, “that you can stop fighting. Put those hands of yours down and let Him do your fighting for you. That heart of yours is for something else altogether.”

Later that night a brutal pain ripped across his chest as he sobbed into the phone’s receiver.

“Then she just walked away, leaving me with all this frustration! Leaving me right there where she found me, but taking my equilibrium with her! And I only had one question, just one, I just want to know how? How do I do that? How do I just stop fighting when I’ve had my dukes up the whole of my life and it’s all I fucking know?

“Why won’t He tell me how to do what it takes to achieve His desires instead of just telling me what His will for me is??”

I would just like to preface this by telling you all that I received very many quality bottles of wine as holiday treats. Of course I’m thankful, because if a specific cousin got me even one more gigantic tin (“The tins are so useful after the popcorn is gone, aren’t they??” is what she has always queried. My brain has –each and every time– wanted my mouth to move on impulse in these situations and grin back, “Why yes, I put them over my head and bang furiously until the spoon breaks.”) of popcorn –even the splurgey three-variety kind– I was going to behave like a big-ole-spoiled-and-lacking-in-humility-or-simple-gratitude jackass. Sure, the birds in my backyard think the week between Christmas and New Year’s is just fanfuckingtabulous because they get to feast on what is billed as gourmet popped kernels, but I’m stuck with one more thing to stuff with other things so that I can justify not discarding it altogether. HOW FAIR IS THAT?? Not to mention the fact that I’ve always held the quiet fear that the caramel bits of corn may cause some grievous illness in birds causing me one day to get a knock at the patio door. Which, of course, I’ll answer cautiously only to find a pissed-off cadre of dainty little airfowl who will challenge the notion that raising children is like being slowly pecked to death by (INSERT NAME OF CHOSEN FOWL HERE).

Have you guys ever heard that saying? It never fails to make me laugh, but somewhere on the inside I get a little uneasy because I have an extremely vivid way of thinking and then there I am envisioning that actually happening. The hearty laughter then turns to a nervous sort of titter as the big WHAT IF?? looms large in my consciousness.

You know, I’m always saying that I live by a ‘no regrets’ sort of philosophy, but lately I’ve come to know that the balancing-out of that (there is a balancing-out to every element of life that ever was and will be, how terribly cool and horribly macabre is that shiz, huh?) is a hearty sense of WHAT IF in just about every arena of my existence. Sounds pretty incongruent, yeah?

I’ve let sink the knowledge that life in general is one big point-counterpoint that we all have to weave our (largely-unequipped, lurching) ways through. Sure, I could get all maudlin about that shit, but I choose for the most part to recognize its overall magnificence.

When I was in the neighborhood of two years old, my father was getting rid of an eight-foot-tall bookcase that stood in our living room. Now children, Once Upon A Time furniture was made of solid wood (I! Know! Right?!) and this bookcase was seated squarely in that Onceupona. That thing was heavy, so my father was sawing it into pieces to more easily get it out the door on his own. For some reason, despite the demolition going on, a picture of my cousin Lonnie was seated way up yonder on it.

Lonnie was my older cousin who had, until he shipped out for Vietnam, come over three or four nights a week to read me a bedtime story. He was one of my mother and father’s very favorite nephews; Lonnie was a promising rags-to-riches success story in the making and I believe they sensed that and tried to mentor him to the best of their abilities.

After he left, I mourned greatly for him; my mother attempted to remedy this by pulling down his picture from its home on the bookcase and allowing me to kiss it, saying goodnight to Lonnie on a nightly basis.

Here now, the bookcase disposal: Mid-task, my father left the room to get a glass of tea. Thus began my longish and storied career of making impetuous and life-changing decisions: I took a mind to retrieve Lonnie’s picture myself, so as to cradle it in the bold midday. I want to say that I aimed to catalog the exact green of his eyes, stoically seated under the bill of his dress uniform’s cover. Maybe he was somewhere thinking of home and I somehow was nudged by that. Whatever the impetus, the situation started with me climbing that bookcase and ended up with a sizable chunk of it pinning me to the floor with my right leg at a grotesquely unnatural angle to the rest of me.

This resulted in a complexly-broken leg, weeks of traction, a body cast, my having to be trained to walk and use a toilet all over again. Re-learning to walk is a distinct art I’ve approached twice now in my life, sweet reader, and I’m suddenly startled that I am ferociously proud of my having done so effectively.

I have one vivid memory of that time (though there are lots of spin-off stories, to be sure…I know because my mother tells the tales grimly and delightedly in turns) which I’ll maybe share in the future, because it is so late and this is already so alphabet-heavy. I caught myself wondering earlier, though, at how that situation has maybe affected me in the long-term. How did it shape me, being two-and-a-half, splayed-legged, lower extremities being hung mid-air for weeks on end so that I would not end up dislocating a hip or unable to run and chase and jump? Am I somebody whose screaming desires to not be pinned down source from being encased in a body tomb of plaster at so formative a time in one’s growth experience? My propensity toward a towering formation of mental chutes and ladders, ideas overlapping and intertwining and jostling and never slowing the fuck down, is that a result of such stillness at what should have been such an active time in my life? How much of this, of who I am at this minute, results from what surely must have been a fearful and massively frustrated toddler?

Mother and daddy will be coming for a long visit in February. They’ve taken a notion to buy a camper and make a wicked loop around This Great Nation Of Ours, maybe even selling their house at the end of the tour and becoming nomads full-time as long as they’re able.* They will visit my older sister Laurie first, starting tomorrow. As they slowly make their way about the country, I will be the second child visited. I am glad for the length of this visit, because momma and I have this exquisite and (what I now know to be) unique relationship that many mothers and daughters just don’t share. Now, more than any other time in my life, I have some very pointed and maybe painful questions to ask her about her perspective on how I got to where I am today.

Late last week I read something so singularly gorgeous that I can’t help but quote it here. I hope its youngly wonderful author doesn’t mind:

Life, I’ve realized, is not about a series of races to the finish line of some achievement. Sooner or later you get tired of running. It’s more a kind of artwork. Like having a giant canvas and an ocean of glue. Your job is to stand there and attach pieces. The funky rock you found at the beach, your first bike, pictures of people and places you love. Up close it’s the biggest mess since the smoke cleared from the Big Bang. But stand a little farther away and it seems pretty. A beautiful swirl of colors on the wall of a pristine white gallery, with sun coming through the window at just the right angle. Done with yours for a while, you can run into the next room and see someone else’s combinations.

The thing is, you have to earn the pieces. They take work, even if that work is entirely pointless right now. Sometimes you just have to let things be. Eventually you’ll know why it was that way. And you’ll have a new piece to glue to the wall. Just keep going. All of a sudden you’ll realize how far you’ve come.

Here’s to you, oh Muffinasses, and the notion that in The Year Of Our Lord, Two-Thousand And Nine, you make a beautiful connection between your world and your precisely magical place in it. Happy New Year, and thank you for continuing to run into the next room to see how my combinations are coming along. Tenfold thanks are due to those of you that hazard to remark on the way that they seize upon your senses.

“Here’s to you and here’s to me,
The best of friends we’ll ever be.
If by chance we disagree, well then

*I heartily support this idea. Old people of America, travel until you become part of its dussssst!

Just idly clicking away when I ended up on Amazon. ~why did they name themselves after a large, freakstrong, one-breasted woman warrior??~ HMMMM? Then I was clicking away some more and ended up on the entry for the Anarchist’s Cookbook.

If you scroll on down the page there, you will notice that the author of the book, William Powell, has attached a statement. Please, don’t strain yourself. I have copied it verbatim for you, and here it byGod is:

The author, William Powell , January 25, 2000

Author would like to see publication discontinued.

I have recently been made aware of several websites that focus on The Anarchist Cookbook. As the author of the original publication some 30 plus years ago, it is appropriate for me to comment.
The Anarchist Cookbook was written during 1968 and part of 1969 soon after I graduated from high school. At the time, I was 19 years old and the Vietnam War and the so-called “counter culture movement” were at their height. I was involved in the anti-war movement and attended numerous peace rallies and demonstrations. The book, in many respects, was a misguided product of my adolescent anger at the prospect of being drafted and sent to Vietnam to fight in a war that I did not believe in.

I conducted the research for the manuscript on my own, primarily at the New York City Public Library. Most of the contents were gleaned from Military and Special Forces Manuals. I was not member of any radical group of either a left or right wing persuasion.

I submitted the manuscript directly to a number of publishers without the help or advice of an agent. Ultimately, it was accepted by Lyle Stuart Inc. and was published verbatim – without editing – in early 1970. Contrary to what is the normal custom, the copyright for the book was taken out in the name of the publisher rather than the author. I did not appreciate the significance of this at the time and would only come to understand it some years later when I requested that the book be taken out of print.

The central idea to the book was that violence is an acceptable means to bring about political change. I no longer agree with this.

Apparently in recent years, The Anarchist Cookbook has seen a number of ‘copy cat’ type publications, some with remarkably similar titles (Anarchist Cookbook II, III etc). I am not familiar with these publications and cannot comment upon them. I can say that the original Anarchist Cookbook has not been revised or updated in any way by me since it was first published.

During the years that followed its publication, I went to university, married, became a father and a teacher of adolescents. These developments had a profound moral and spiritual effect on me. I found that I no longer agreed with what I had written earlier and I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the ideas that I had put my name to. In 1976 I became a confirmed Anglican Christian and shortly thereafter I wrote to Lyle Stuart Inc. explaining that I no longer held the views that were expressed in the book and requested that The Anarchist Cookbook be taken out of print. The response from the publisher was that the copyright was in his name and therefore such a decision was his to make – not the author’s. In the early 1980’s, the rights for the book were sold to another publisher. I have had no contact with that publisher (other than to request that the book be taken out of print) and I receive no royalties.

Unfortunately, the book continues to be in print and with the advent of the Internet several websites dealing with it have emerged. I want to state categorically that I am not in agreement with the contents of The Anarchist Cookbook and I would be very pleased (and relieved) to see its publication discontinued. I consider it to be a misguided and potentially dangerous publication which should be taken out of print.

William Powell

Hmmmm. I really don’t know what to make of this, and normally I am able to size a situation up accurately within a fairly quick amount of time. I don’t know which idea/ideal/conspiracy/plan/outlook/belief/snow job to grasp hold of and call my very own. Just when you think that you’re grown……well…..so here we are. Pleased to meet you, Mr. New Perspective, Miss Gradual Change. Kind of freaked out that you fucking snuck up behind me, but I can be gracious In Spite Of. I’m way hip and bitchin’ like that. Yo.

Hey….just what the fuck am I talking ABOUT??

Mathias Arnold III writes KICK-ASS reviews. It appears that Mr. Arnold has lots of free time on his hands, which he spends by cruising Amazon and writing painfully funny reviews of various items available for purchase on the site. Bully, old boy!!

Damn, that Twix was gooooooood…..haven’t had one of ‘em in a long time. Nummins.

|| November 6, 2000 || 11:08 pm || Comments (0) ||

These quotes do it for me:

“Now, I know I am an exception to most of the rules about how people act. I admit it. But I just want to go on the record with a few things on this topic.”

“I’ve passed kidney stones. They say that it’s the closest a man can get to knowing the pain of childbirth.”

“Ladies? Are you taking notes? If you don’t have quid pro quo in bed you aren’t going to have it out there in the world.”

“If there was a way I could get across a deafening scream on a computer, I would insert it here.”

“Give me one big fucking break!”

“Women aren’t going to get anywhere by being empowered by such shows as “Piggy McSqueal” or whatever the hell it’s called. Women are going to be empowered by beating the shit out of men in the boxing ring. That is what clearly intimidates and frightens men, and that’s the only thing that is going to make an impression.”

“Who is telling you that a balding man isn’t sexy? Is it the same people who are telling you that a 5′5″ brunette woman with a 32 inch bust beating up someone in a boxing ring isn’t sexy?”

“Be a dear and toss me another handful of candies from that little dispenser there, will you?”

“Don’t be shocked; that’s what I do. I’m a polar bear.”

“Oh, whine, whine, bitch, bitch, I didn’t ask to be born a man / woman / black / white / American / African / supermodel / cripple / whatthefuckever. Hey, I never even asked to be born human. What about that?”

“Yeah, last week I wanted to just be someone else. But I decided to scrap that plan and dream big. Now I want to be something else. I don’t want the new problems of someone else. I don’t want the new hangups or shallowness of someone else. I don’t want the job or income or debt or relocation of someone else.”

“Humans have too wide a capacity for love. It goes too high and it goes too low.”

“Hello, 21st Century Western Cultureman. You haven’t got a chance.”

“If you had any talent or purpose, you would not be sneaking around trying to hide your sad little hobby of “oh, I’m a misunderstood writer.” You are an electronic ink-blot on the unread paperwork of humanity. You are a coffee cup stain. You aren’t even that interesting.”

“Wake up and smell the bullshit you have pouring out of your mouth, jerk.”

“Hey, I’ll buy you a mirror and you can give up the drive space to someone who really needs it, ok?”

“Is this more information than you were looking for? Too bad. Time to contemplate life’s sticky little issues.”

“Am I saying we should give up trying to make the world a better place? No.”

“What can we do to improve the quality of life in the face of a negative but unchangeable reality?”

Like manna lying delectably in a sea of fishsticks. I found them all in the same place; can you IMAGINE??

|| September 14, 2000 || 12:45 pm || Comments (0) ||

I just made a startling realization. My children’s birthdays are all a multiple of 7 (or divisible by 7, however you choose to view it in your own infinite wisdom). The day of the month, I mean. Not the entire birthdate. THAT is not the realization, however. I figured that one out a while back. I also figured out that there must be some greater cosmic spin to all that, but it has yet to be evidenced to me. I can only fantasize in my grandiose way and then go back to being the person who washes the pajamas and cleans up the crumbs in anticipation of the time that they will be completely self-sufficient so that I can go back to performing full-time instead of catch-as-catch-can. I hope that when that time rolls around they will still want to hang out with me ~I think that they are pretty neat people and I would tolerate them even if I didn’t HAVE to~, be it in the living room or backstage.

My realization is this: I started this blog on July the 14th….7/14. SEVEN FOURTEEN. S-E-V-E-N F-O-U-R-T-E-E-N. You know your multiplication (or division, however you choose to view it in your own infinite wisdom) tables, right??

And I am floored. There is some kind of subliminal message about my life in there, but I don’t choose to be analytical at this time. Right now I am just viewing it as an astounding co-inker-dink.