Sunday, August 28, 2011

Butt Call

   My phone rang this morning. I was still half asleep, and pretty hungover, so I didn't get up to see who was calling. I just let it ring.

   It was my girlfriend. Well, it was my girlfriend's phone, but she didn't mean to call. She was at work, and the phone was in her pocket. The sequence of numbers necessary to call my phone happened to be accidentally pushed. And I got a voice-mail filled with random tidbits of conversation and lots of background noise.

  She is a waitress. I heard a guy asking her about a side of fries. Mundane stuff. But it struck me. Hearing a piece of her life. A piece that has nothing to do with me. I thought about her. I thought about her as an individual person, with thoughts that are only her own. The center of her own personal universe. Trying to navigate her way through the world. It was endearing.

   Her name is Abby. And she wakes up every day, with her own myriad thoughts and questions and conflicts.  This happens billions of times per day in this amazing and beautiful world.

Monday, August 15, 2011


   I feel like I should have a lot to write about. But nothing worthwhile seems to be coming out.

   I crashed my bike a few nights ago. The wreck didn't cause any notable structural damage to myself, or to my bike. But I did get a deep gash under my left eye. Deep enough that it definitely needed stitches. I got to the hospital around 2 a.m. Five hours later, a doctor finally got around to sewing my face up. In the interval, I sat in the waiting room, with mounting frustration, exhaustion, and anger.

   I was frustrated and angry with myself for the carelessness that landed me in that hospital. I was frustrated with the hospital for the long wait, and the jaded and indifferent staff. And I couldn't help but think of the right-wing claims of private sector efficiency, as I sat in the waiting room bleeding onto my apparently useless insurance card.

   That should be easy to write about. But everything that comes out just seems like a rant. And I don't want to rant.

   I'm also in the process of switching jobs. After six and a half years at my soon to be former job, I'm making a change. The job description will be similar, but the environment is radically different. I'm leaving behind a mammoth, impersonal, bureaucratic corporate restaurant. And I'm starting at a local restaurant and beer brewery. The new place is a breath of fresh air. I like the people that I've met there. I like the environment that they've created. And the product that they're selling is made with pride and a clear commitment to quality, rather than simply focusing on profit margin alone. The contrasts are clear and easy to see.

   That should also be easy to write about. But everything that comes out seems like a preachy rant. And I still don't want to rant.

    Over the course of the last week, I've seen thought provoking live readings and a live painting exhibition. I've read good journalism and literature. I've followed the flavor of the week political stories. I've spent quiet time by myself, taking long walks and runs. And I've found good conversations with intelligent people.

   All of those things usually lead me to write. But I've got nothing more than some bits of fictional dialogue to show for it.

   And that is where I sit now. With a collection of thoughts, ideas, and feelings stewing inside of me. But with no palatable means to organize and express them.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cool Breeze

"For them that think death's honesty - Won't fall upon them naturally - Life sometimes must get lonely" - Bob Dylan

   I woke up this morning before dawn. Quickly, suddenly, violently awake.

   I went to the doctor yesterday. I feel fine, but I wanted a thorough check-up. I'd never had one before. I've always felt healthy. So I assumed that that meant that I was healthy. But I'm 37 years old. Which isn't far from 40. Which means that I am a middle-aged man. So I figured I should go make sure that everything is in proper working order. I'm still waiting on the results from my blood and piss.

   My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer early last year. My uncle, my dad's youngest brother, was diagnosed with lung cancer last month. Another uncle of mine, and another of my dad's brothers, died of lung cancer years ago. There is a fourth brother, and I doubt that he's healthy. I don't mean to sound cold, or overly pessimistic, but he's been drinking and smoking heavily for decades. And he doesn't get regular exercise. And all three of his brothers have been diagnosed with cancer.

   The doctor checked my prostate. I'm younger than most men that are diagnosed with prostate cancer, but what the hell. We're in the doctor's office and they've got the gloves, so why not start shoving fingers in assess. Apparently the inside of my ass feels just fine.

   So now I'm just waiting on my blood and piss. I get those results next week.

   My dad's cancer has been removed. He keeps himself in good health, and the cancer was discovered early. He should be fine. My uncle's cancer is much further along. His road will be a tough one.

   I was talking with my uncle about a week ago. The one that has been recently diagnosed with cancer. I started to tell him about my recent trip to Cleveland. I was beginning to tell him how much he'd enjoy the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame. And then our voices faded, and we moved quietly on to another topic. Its not that he couldn't make it there. But again, the road that lays in front of him is a tough one. And he'll need to choose his pit-stops carefully.

   After the doctor checked my prostate, he said that I could probably set that concern aside until I was about 50 years old.

   And that's the number that I woke up with this morning. That number, and the overwhelming truth that I could be dead by then. It may be the first time in my life that I was hit with the full force of my own death. The gravity, the inevitability, the immediacy, and the permanence of death landed on me clean and clear and undeniable.

   I won't be here. I won't have these thoughts, or any other thoughts. I just won't be.

   I was at home, in the perceived safety of my own bed. But for a moment, I was overwhelmed by fear and sorrow. A deadening sadness covered me like a lead blanket.

   It seems a little absurd now. Like I'd considered myself immortal up until this morning. But it was real at that moment. For that moment, in my heart and mind, I may as well have already been dead.

   I didn't jump out of bed and write a bucket list, or vow to make any drastic changes in my life. Nor did god speak to me. I just rolled over, bunched up the blanket that was under my head, and felt the cool breeze coming in from the window. But it's still sitting with me. It's still lingering.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Getting Back To The Edge Of The Cliff

"and god is whoever you're performing for" - Doug Martsch

   Too much time in this space. This blog space. Not time well spent. Wasted time. Distracted time.

   I started writing here for a few different reasons. But it's becoming a crutch. It's becoming an easy alternative to more difficult, and more rewarding, forms of writing.

   And worst of all, is the Stats page. I keep looking to see who is reading this. And how often. And which posts. That's a terrible habit, and I can't let it continue. I have thousands of stories buried underneath my 37 years. Pains and joys tucked away in the crevices of my gut, my spine, my heart. And I can't find them if I'm looking outward. I can't find my honest thoughts and feelings, while looking to other people for validation. I can look at other people to see other people, but I can't look at them to see myself.

   I don't think that I need to shut down the blog all together. I think I can still use it from time to time. But I have to reign it in. And I'm going to start that process right now.