THE FUTURE IS UNWRITTEN
Nov. 9th, 2015
During a thunder storm when I was about six years old, my soldier father sought to reassure me by teaching me flash to bang time theory. It works like this he explained, sound travels at 1128 feet per second so you can tell how far away a nuclear or other explosion is by the length of time it takes from the initial flash of the detonation to when the sound wave passes over you. It works for lightning too he said.
Standing on the back porch with my six year old son, we watched the flash of distant lightning and listened to its rumble. I tried to reassure him as my father once done to me that the storm was still far away. I explained that sound moves in a wave at a particular speed and you could tell how far away lightning was by how long the sound takes to reach you. Seeing the flash of lightning, I began to count, "Monkey one, monkey two, monkey three."
"Why are you counting by monkeys?" he asked.
"You don't have to." I explained, "Some people say: a thousand one, thousand two or Mississippi one, Mississippi two or other things to count time."
I didn't explain why I count by monkeys but I knew. My best friend in second grade, Buzz counted by monkeys. I don't know if Buzz still does but a lifetime later I still do.
When we were about nine years old, Buzz and I were watching my father smoke a cigar. Seeing our keen interest, my father asked if we would like to try one. Heck yeah! He cut off the ends of a cigar and handed it to me. I imagine he was suppressing a smile as he held his lighter to the tip and told me to inhale deeply. The resultant coughing and hacking from me was probably what he was expecting. Then he offered the cigar with its glowing ruby tip to Buzz who took a drag. My father asked the green faced Buzz how it was.
"Pretty good. Pretty good." Buzz replied.
It was supposed to be a lesson,
Later after my son had finally fallen asleep, I went to the armoire in my bedroom and removed a wooden box, in it was a zip locked baggy containing the three inch remanent of a cigar that my wife had bought me a year before. Stepping out onto the rain slicked back porch, I listened to the rumble of distant thunder of the passing storm. I lit the cigar and said to myself, "Here's to you, Dad." I took a puff and exhaled the smoke which was caught by the wind and swept away in the twinkling of an eye.
Oct. 29th, 2015
02:31 pm - Life
Sometimes life seems to move at a glacial crawl - every day merging in meaningless sameness with the days proceeding them and one day you realize that nothing much happened that week, that month, that decade but at other times life roars past like a bullet train. I've ridden that bullet train at a hundred and eighty miles an hour as life flashed by in a blur. In rapid succession I fell in love, got engaged, then married and found myself stepping into an existing complicated family structure. I was now a parent with stepchildren - three teenagers. Our family became even larger with the birth of our son and I was in the unfamiliar world of diapers. Everything seemed to be flashing by. I was oblivious. I was caught up in the speed of the train and never saw what was before me on the tracks as I plowed into it at full speed. I never saw it coming.
Nov. 8th, 2007
06:30 pm - Analyze This
I want to relate a strange dream that I had early this morning. The setting was a bedroom with two beds: one larger bed and the other a smaller daybed. On the daybed there was a five feet long alligator engulfed in flames. The alligator was on fire from tail to snout, though, the daybed itself was not burning. I didn't know if the alligator was alive or dead but curiously, I was afraid that it's eyes would burn, so I poured a cup of water over it's face which had no effect on the flames but caused the alligator to twitch. I remember being concerned in the dream that the alligator might devour my dogs or attack me if I got up during the night to use my bathroom.
At this point, I should mention that as a child of seven or eight I had a real live pet alligator named Caesar, though he was nowhere near as large as the dream alligator. (WARNING! MOVIE SPOILER) Also worth mentioning is that Patty and I watched the movie "Bug" last night which ended with the two main characters pouring gasoline on themselves and setting themselves on fire. Following the conclusion of "Bug" we watched an episode of the "Sopranos" on DVD which by some strange coincidence had a dream sequence in which Tony also poured gasoline on himself and set himself on fire while his "crew" watched.
I became aware at some point in my dream that there were other people in the room: a couple of showgirls and a tuxedoed Kevin Spacey with two other women background singers - don't ask me how I knew they were background singers. Someone said, "We all know he (meaning Kevin Spacey) can really sing." All the while the song "Kentucky Woman" by Neil Diamond was blaring in the background.
I was awaken by a phone call and thought to my self, "What the hell, Neil Diamond? Where did that come from?" Pondering on the dream, I realized that I am reading a novel by William Kennedy called "Legs" about the real life gangster Jack "Legs" Diamond. Hmmmm?
So what does this mean?
06:24 pm - The Passions of the Mind
I recently finished Irving Stones massively word dense and incredibly detailed 856 page book on Sigmund Freud, " The Passions of the Mind". After reading this I think I could probably tell you what he had for dinner on August 2, 1889.
Jul. 12th, 2007
Nuclear war has broken out between Cynthia and Dr. Tom and neither of them are taking prisoners.
Feb. 24th, 2007
04:31 pm - My Modest Proposal
Are you as tired as I am of the unseemly endless squabbling over the body of Anna Nicole Smith? Consider this too; James Brown died on Christmas Day of last year, he is yet to buried, his relatives and wife are still fighting over his remains to this day. I have the solution to both problems: mummify their bodies, put them in specially designed airtight glass coffins like the Soviets did with Lenin and then build a museum to house them and then the relatives can charge an admission to view the bodies. They can make more money off of the dead. Just think of the money that can be generated from the gift shop alone.
Dec. 20th, 2006
12:50 am - The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Cynthia had told me to be sure to call to let her know that I had made it safely to Knoxville and of course, when I dutifully telephoned she didn't answer and the call went to voice mail. In the background of her recorded message George Strait was singing. I know her well, you see, George Strait means only one thing - Jeff. One day Jeff will kill her. I know this and Cynthia does too on some level. It may not be today but one day it will happen. He has tried before. Once he strangled her to unconsciousness. Another time she told me he tried to poison her. After she called the police he dumped the spiked drink down the sink and when the police arrived claimed she was being hysterical. Later she would find that he had secretly taken out a life insurance policy on her with himself as beneficiary. He beat her up innumerable times. Their marriage was a true horror story. I once saw a printout listing the number of times the police had been called out to their house that she had gotten a copy of from the police department when she was divorcing Jeff. It listed twenty-six times that they had responded during a period of a year and a half, almost all of them involving domestic violence. The violence and police calls didn't end with that report either. It continued and I knew of many other times that they had been called after that period. He stole from her, lied to her and cheated on her while they were married continuously. Later while they were separated Jeff emptied out Cynthia and her children's bank accounts and left them pennyless. Jeff is bipolar and refuses to take his medication. There is more to it than simply bipolar disorder though, by her accounts, Jeff also suffers from antisocial personality disorder and is a violent psychopath who she said incapable of feeling remorse for his actions or empathy. Jeff told her that he never loved her, that all she ever was to him was a convenient piece of ass and still she takes him back time and time again to this day. How sad this all is. You would think at some point some sort of survival mechanism would kick in and she would put him out of her life but she won't or can't break the emotional chains that bind her to him.
Now, I have a confession to make. A year and a half ago, my mother was in the process of packing the contents of her house preparing to move from Texas to Tennessee. I was driving from her house to mine, a trip of about a hundred eighty miles, in my mother's van packed to the roof with as much furniture that she had given me as could fit into it. About midway in the trip I got a telephone call from Cynthia. I was caught off guard when she asked me to marry her. I hadn't seen this coming and at first took it as a joke. I asked her if she was serious and she said she was. Before I could get a word in edgewise she started talking about getting blood tests and how long it would take to get the marriage license. I was taken aback by all this. You see, I am very wary of Cynthia. I don't trust her, there have been too many lies, too many betrayals. I know too much about her. Maybe five years before when I didn't really know her it would have been different. I sidestepped the question figuring she would let it drop, except she didn't. When I returned from Tennessee three weeks later she brought it up again. I ignored the talk about marriage. I mean, why would I marry someone I couldn't trust. Marriage to me is about trust and there was no trust here as far as I was concerned. In one of the earliest entries in this journal I talked about how Cynthia had told me she loved me more than anyone else in my life but I didn't know what she meant by it except that it was different than when I used the word love. When she used the word it meant something lesser than if I were to say it. She over used the word to the extent that it lost it's meaning and became something more akin to like. I still don't know what she means but I don't trust the word as she uses it.
Anyway, none of this mattered for within a few weeks she had dropped me once more from her life. She had invited me over and I was bringing over dinner. As I was leaving, the phone rang. It was Cynthia. I didn't answer figuring she would ask me to pick up some cigarettes for her on the way. The unlistened to message was for me not to come over. She said she was on her way to the emergency room. When I got to her apartment there was a note on the door saying that she had left and would talk to me later except I could hear her talking inside. I persisted in knocking and she finally opened the door. She was obviously very nervous and wanted me to leave fast. Suspicious, I didn't comply and who should walk in - Jeff. I really wasn't surprised at all. She had apparently gotten her days mixed up. There was no altercation. I just felt sad. I said "Screw it" to myself and that was it.
I saw her two or three times after that. She asked me to drive her to eye doctor and invited me over for Thanksgiving and that was pretty much it as far as I was concerned. I didn't call her. I was done with it all so I told myself. Every once in a great while she would call me to tell me of her latest legal problem but I made no effort to contact her. Almost a year went by.
In early November she called me in a happy mood. Charges had been dismissed against her in one of her legal matters. I took a bottle of wine over to celebrate and she brought me up to date on her life. Nothing much had changed. She talked about us getting married as if a more than a year hadn't gone by. I didn't say anything.
After I left that night, another month went by with no contact. I was extremely depressed in November and December. I was literally in an emotional freefall. I reached out to my friends but they were oblivious. Isolated and very lonely, I felt like no one gave a shit about me. Days passed without me actually talking to a single soul. I was dying for any sort of physical contact with another person, any at all. I was a plant deprived of sunlight.
In this dark emotional place in early December I looked into my garage filled with her stuff that she had left two years before as if it was her own private storage facility and said outloud to myself, "Enough. Let's end this." Feeling filled with anger, I called her and told her I was going to start hauling her belongings down to the curb if she didn't want them. She asked what was going on and I told her I felt done in and had reached the end of my tether. Hearing the anguish in my voice she told me to come right over. I brought all my pain to her doorstep.
In the end, we are all looking for someone to say that they care even if it is a lie.
Dec. 18th, 2006
12:21 am - Note to Myself, Always Tip
The shuttle that I had scheduled the previous day picked me up on the dot. I preferred to be driven to the airport rather than drive and leave my car in long term parking. It is one less thing that I have to worry about. I had called the airline the day before and had gotten the information on which terminal to go to and my departure gate, B-17. The shuttle dropped me off near that gate and I took advantage of curbside check in, got my boarding pass and checked my luggage. What the heck, it is only $2 more. The man that handed me my ticket and took my bag informed me that my departure gate was B-4. I breezed through the security check points quickly. Other people seemed to be getting a real through going over by the security personnel including a man who appeared to be in his eighties. I guess you can never tell about those senior citizens. I started the trek to B-4 -DFW Airport is immense and had almost made it to it when I noticed on the monitors that list departures and arrivals that my flight was for B-7. It turned around and hiked back the direction I had come from, stopping on the way to buy an $8 grilled salami sandwich. After one bite I wished I had bought something else but it being an $8 sandwich I ate it none the less. Knowing my relatives I was visiting I figured it could be my last chance for meat for the next fifteen days and I might as well eat the flesh of an animal while I still could. However, I am not sure that the salami strictly qualifies as a meat being that it is more of an animal by product. I should note here, that while my family doesn't eat much meat and in particular almost no beef or chicken, curiously they do eat hickory smoked pulled pork barbecue and I can only surmise that it is a cultural thing, some sort of homage to one's roots.
My plane was wheels up precisely on time. How amazing is that? Once we had achieved our cruising altitude we immediately hit turbulence which continued until we began our descent for Knoxville. The fasten seat belt sign never came off the entire flight. The rough flight made reading the E.L. Doctorow novel that I had brought along more than a bit difficult. It was kind of like trying to read while riding a go cart with a bit of roller coaster thrown in but like I have said flying really doesn't bother me. I did hit a bit of a snag when we landed and my bag wasn't there with the other baggage that had gotten the valet treatment. Dog gone it, I should have tipped the guy that took my bag and told me the wrong departure gate back at DFW. Oh, well, no big thing, I picked it up at the regular baggage claim area and walked out to the warm encompassing embraces of my non meat eating (except pulled pork barbecue) family.
Dec. 13th, 2006
12:07 am - I am Leaving on a Jet Plane
Flying has never bothered me in the least bit. However, getting to the airport to catch a flight ironicly is another matter entirely. I am a bundle of nerves until I am actually seated on the plane and then I am as relaxed as if I was sitting at home on my couch with my feet propped up on the coffee table.
Nov. 8th, 2006
02:12 pm - Cynthia Vs. Walmart
The charges against Cynthia over the Walmart incident were dismissed "in the interests of justice". I find that an interesting term. I wonder if that is justice with a big J or the little justice of expedience? Walmart's staff of lawyers threatened a civil suit.