We are…

•March 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

silly little creatures, aren’t we?

I was watching tv while at a dinner the other night (the conversation had slowed) and something someone said set my head ticking a little bit.

There were a group of quasi-adults sitting around a living room somewhere all talking about themselves.

One by one they went around in a vague circle and basically told each other what they were going to do in the near future.

By way of an example, one of them said they were actively seeking large amounts of people to be promiscuous with. They gave some half-assed arm-chair psychologist rationalization for this decision while all the while looking around with shark eyes at all the women in the group for silent takers on the unvoiced offer. (fucking coward)

Another one was leaving everything behind. Job, home, etc. in order to travel the world armed only with a back pack, a serious case of disillusionment, and their wit. Apparently, the six figure job was just too much stress. She was, I believe, the “ivy league, trust-funder” of the group. Obviously much too soul-tired to cope in any real meaningful way with anything. As the conversation wore on, it was revealed that she was a public relations liaison for her daddy’s global interests. She didn’t comment much on her professional duties, but did make mention of fact that the shopping was outrageous in Milan last spring.

The last one I remember was another young man. His name was Neeman (he spelled it for us). Neeman is an artist. (he said it) One of the group gathered took the bait and said, “‘What kind of artist? Do you paint or sculpt or are you a musician?” This was perhaps, the least contrived response of the whole thing. It was simply a request for further clarification. Neeman (of course) pounced on the opportunity. He went off on this poor guy. Asking how dare he put him in a box and that he was a sad, sad person who wasn’t broadminded enough to just accept that he was an artist and that was that.

Well, it drew everybody’s attention it was so heated a response and just when the tension started to thin and everyone was getting comfortable again the questioner spoke up again. I had him pegged for a submissive. Oops.

I guess my bottom line here is that the fact of the matter is that we don’t really know what we need. If we think we do, we’re kidding ourselves. Our own pathology gets in the  way of making decisions like that, yet we do it time and again (i.e. the woman that continually ends up in abusive relationships) and then spend months bemoaning the ultimately divine tragedies that are the outcome of said decisions.

Man, don’t we ever get tired of hearing ourselves talk? (irony duly noted)

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I was having…

•March 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

… dinner the other night with my wife and son and two of his friends. They were in their own booth and my wife and I were in the next one.

We were in between bites of food and conversation and I was looking at the other people in the dining room. It’s a favorite thing of mine to do. I wonder what their stories are, where they’re from, what they love and hate, etc.

I noticed a young man sitting with a larger group of people. Maybe 10 of them gathered for a birthday. (which was, in fact, the case as we later discovered) Their conversation was still going strong but the young man was not involved. He was surfing the web on his phone. No one else at his table seemed to mind his lack of participation so I did my best to withhold judgement.

But it did get me wondering.  What could have been so important? Email or text from a girl? Sports scores? Wrench sale at Sears? The possibilities are overwhelming. I just ended up thinking, “Why not just plug all the way in to what was going on?” I get that it was probably not the most “happening” thing he could be doing, but on the other hand, if you made the effort to show up, why not “show up”?

My attention span sated for a minute, my eyes wandered the dining room and I saw that quite a few others were involved in phone conversations, hand-held games, MP3 players etc.

I now had a choice. I could start making assumptions and being a jerk or I could turn the attention on myself. So, in a blazing moment of generosity, I began examining myself. I began to track what I’d done that day. This is what I came up with…(by the way, this was a day off)

Slept late. Woke up and checked text messages and voice mail on cell phone. Grabbed cup of coffee and headed downstairs to the computer to check email. Spent an hour surfing. Spent an hour working on some music. Spent another hour playing an online game. Went upstairs and got another cup of coffee. Plugged in my earbuds while I did some dishes and listened to a favorite podcast. From there I turned on the tv and began the process of gathering the days news/catching up on “House” and finishing the “tear down” of the Christmas tree. Feeling justified in the amount of work I’d put forth for a day off, I went back downstairs and played for about 45 minutes. Having successfully removed the stain of effort from my hands I began surfing the net in earnest. You know, really digging in. From which I carried away these nuggets: Michael Jackson may or may not be dead, the American economy is in trouble and if you do a search on YouTube concerning “boogers”…well…you know.

I could really go on and on. The level of input was staggering when I stepped back to examine it. Could this really be the way I live my life every day? Oh my God, it was almost chilling. It more and more felt like I was simply being programmed by everything that I plugged into. It occurred to me that maybe I was simply plugged in too much. So to test my theory, I challenged myself to take the next day (another day off) and completely unplug. I would spend the day with no input whatsoever. Madness, you say? Perhaps, but life is to be lived blah, blah, blah.

I’ll make this comparison of that first day. There were days when I was quitting smoking that were more comfortable than that.

I really didn’t know what to do with myself. Literally. The TV was off. The radio was off. The computer was off. The cell phones were off. I didn’t read the paper, etc. It was also my wife and sons day off as well so I found myself talking to them at length over the course of the day. My wife and I laid on opposite ends of the couch and talked for probably over two hours. My son (who I’ve accused of having no imagination) and I spent hours in the land of “Blarth”. Our own little world where the rules of reality changed and shifted on an almost minute-to-minute basis to suit our whims. We only came up for air when we needed orange juice and goldfish crackers. (Unfortunately, Blarth has neither. Something we swore to fix the next time we visited).

My wife and I then spent an hour and a half cooking an experimental dinner together. (turned out great!)

I ended the day by repealing a rule for the day. I read. We all read. And by the time we’d had our fill of that, it was time for bed so that’s what we did.

It was a great day.

Granted, there was a “birthing” process that had to happen early on in the day and I don’t know if I could survive being unplugged all the time (just ask my Mac). But I do know this… I remember that day. And the subsequent unplugged days after. They’re not at all like the other days of my life which seem a little more generic by comparison. They feel a little more “real”.

And don’t misunderstand me, I’m not one of those, “Get off the Grid!” evangelists. I don’t believe unplugging is the answer to a life out of whack. But I am a rabid believer in balance and that’s what this experiment seemed to be step toward.

I don’t generally reach far enough to suggest advice to anyone (dangerous proposition at best) but this was so “bending” I thought it was worth taking the chance. So go ahead and turn on your Nintendo DS and by all means keep your iPod charged, but try and take that challenge yourself once and see what it feels like. I guarantee it’ll be an eye opener.

It’s been six months since I tried my little experiment and I’ve had maybe four of those unplugged days since then. I’m here to say that it’s been a positive experience all around. My family is a little closer. We have a little more fun together and we do different things.

Let me know what happens with you.

P.S. Blarth now has OJ.

We got the news…

•February 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

…today that due to budgetary restrictions, and barring some sort of otherworldly miracle, they would begin letting people go in two weeks. Yikes!

It’s really amazing the changes we go through as time goes by. I, historically have been laid back to the point of lethargy for the better part of my life. My wife, on the other hand, is talented, motivated, ambitious, etc. Normally, I would have met this mornings news with a que sera, sera sort of attitude and she would have been coiled tightly. Somewhere along the way, we seem to have traded places. She met the news with a, “Awesome! An adventure!” attitude. I, unfortunately am currently curled up in a fetal position under my desk contemplating the relative merits of a life of crime.

I don’t like what’s happened. I was cool. Mellow. Ever so slightly (and comfortably) detached. The wind parted around me and I bent with it. Beautiful. So now what’s all this crap?!

What will we do? How will we pay our bills? Eat? Get ice cream? I know people that have twice the experience and 100 times the education that I do that have been without work for forever it seems. Part of me (when I let it) gets a little excited about the potential. Think of all the headway I could make on all these projects! That’s pretty exciting. Unfortunately, not a single one of my creative endeavors will probably add up to dollar one. Even should the fat lady sing her ass off, these aren’t revenue enticing things. Just stuff for my soul. Beyond that, I don’t have a clue what I’d do.

Well, silent masses, we shall see…

God…

•February 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

…I’m tired.

So I find myself…

•January 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

…in uncharted territory.

I’m a fairly creative person. It’s not a boast, just a statement of fact. I like to do a bunch of things and as a consequence for my ADD I’ve become a “jack of all trades, master of none”. I write (and read, you should try it!) and am a musician, etc. These things have ancillary skills as well. You know, learning to record sound, edit video, blah, blah, blah.

What I’m not is prolific.

I hate it but have not seemed to be able to exercise any true control over it. I know people, for instance, that can crank out a song a day if they put their mind to it. I’m amazed by it but simply can’t wrap my head around it.

So…back to the “uncharted territory”.

Through one circumstance or another, I have on my plate the finishing of the rough draft of a screenplay then looking a little forward the inevitable re-write and pre-production plans for it. I think I’d like to release it to the internet as an episodic/series sort of thing. (undecided) That in itself is a huge undertaking. I did a one off sit-com thingy for You Tube and as cheesy as it was, it was a big job.

Next I re-read a script for a musical that’s ready for a re-write. It’s not as rough as the screenplay but needs some TLC regardless. That’s not the tough part of that project, though. I still need to write the music for it. Approximately 7-9 songs. I’ve got vague ideas of what I want to do with most of them, but still…

I’ve been approached by three separate sets of people trying to get an original’s based band up and running, each one of those has been confronted w/ some pretty severe challenges…

In concert with that one are the original songs that are in various stages of completion.

Last, but certainly not least of which let’s not forget a fantastic wife, family and silly “job thing”. (takes deep breath)

How do all of you people do it?

I’ll keep you posted.

For those at all curious, here’s the links to the aforementioned videos…

winning the War on… pets …part1

Winning the War on… pets …part2

Two ambulances and a firetruck…

•January 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

…showed up in front of my house this morning at around 8AM. As stupid as it is there was a split second when I did a quick check of everything in my household that I already knew. You know, all family present and accounted for. Nothing seemingly out of the ordinary…. but there were still those service vehicles out front. It was a confusing feeling compounded by the fact that the EMT’s ran from the front of their truck around to the back and were running to get a stretcher out of it.

They got it out and went to the back door of my neighbors house across the street from me. We watched from the window of our house as things unfolded. It was very strange watching without sound. You’re left to infer so much. The wife came out and threw her arms around her next door neighbor heaving with sobs I couldn’t hear.

Who was it that needed help?  The husband? These were not older people. Forty…maybe? Perhaps the older friend that seemed to stay with them. He was in his late 50’s to 60ish (my guess). That, to me, seemed the most likely choice.

The EMT’s didn’t come out and I got impatient. I threw my coat and shoes on and walked across the street. Yes, my curiosity was piqued. But truthfully, I wanted to offer whatever help I could. We didn’t hang out a lot, but we were on very friendly terms. If I needed some kind of help, they would have helped, no doubts. I stood in the driveway not wanting to walk into the house uninvited right now. After a few minutes the next door neighbor came out and said, “Her mother stopped breathing”. I nodded and made commiserating sounds for a few moments.  It seemed that the neighbor was going to hang out so I offered to take here son to school with mine.

I walked across the street and informed my next door neighbor what had happened. She said, “I didn’t know they were still there. I didn’t see them at the New Years Eve party.”

I walked back into my house profoundly disturbed.

Apparently, there had been a set of parents living with them for months. I had been completely clueless to their existence.

Someone had literally lived and died right across the street from me and I had never even know they were there.

I just don’t know how to feel about that…

I don’t want to write this…

•January 13, 2010 • 1 Comment

…but part of the deal for me is to attempt some semblance of authenticity, so here goes.

I suck.

I, like I’m sure a great many of you, commute. For me it’s a blessing and a curse. It’s ramp up time on the way in. (put on your game face) And it’s de-compression time on the way home. (No home casualties stemming from my business day) Like most happy lemmings I usually take one of a couple of routes back to headquarters where the clan awaits to greet me in various degrees of enthusiasm.

Yesterday, I was taking route “A” home. Near the end of the road I get off the highway that I’ve been on for 25 minutes and take a long and curly exit ramp to one of the main streets in my town.

For the last year or so there have been a variety of people waiting for people like me to get off there. They range from those crossing without transportation toward whatever business they’re attending to, to people soliciting. The latter of this group are either church people raising money  selling candy bars with their children on the median (tacky, tacky, tacky) or less fortunate folk that simply need cash. Of the latter part of that group there have been a small handful of fellows (never women) that seem to cycle in and out of the territory with one exception. Let’s call him Bill. Bill has been around pretty consistently for the last couple years. Not everyday, but often enough to be plenty recognizable. Bill is physically handicapped. He struggles to get around some.

It’s become a sick game of mine to do everything in  my power to avoid contact with him. He stands near the traffic light so it’s always different when I round the turn. Will I be so far back in the line of cars that I don’t have to “obviously” avoid him? Will the light turn to green as I’m getting closer to him, etc. Many people will hold up traffic a for a few seconds to hand him cash or food.

I’ve never done this. I don’t know why. I’m not unkind or uncharitable. I really don’t hate people. Bill is obviously someone in need. I don’t understand this about my self.

The other day I came around the turn and he was there and all the random factors aligned. I stopped and he was right next to my window. I looked away all the while hating myself. Without knowing I was doing it, I turned my head to the left and saw him. He was looking right at me. Not two feet from me. It was too late, and our eyes met. Neither of us moved. If I hadn’t felt like crap about myself before, I did now. This mans’ eyes told me he was in pain. They told me he was simply hanging on to the life that had been given him. I instantly looked through his eyes back at me and felt some of what he might be going through. Concern, exhaustion, his humanity challenged and his dignity all but dead. Whatever choices he’d made in his life never even came into play. Then the worst of it. I saw me sitting in my vehicle. I saw my eyes. I saw shame, fear, dread, doubt. A thousand things flashed past his/my eyes.

Then it was done.

The light changed color. I drove away. No offer of help. Nothing. Not even a quick “I acknowledge you” nod.

I suck. I don’t want to suck.