Posts Tagged ‘work’

My Blue Heaven, Pt. 2

June 16, 2014

I am not a handy person. I’m more of an idea man.

 

But after four years, it was time.

 

Time to claim my yard and create my own personal Blue Heaven.

 

I have always loved sitting out back, usually on the top step of the porch.

 

But. I rarely went down the steps into the yard.

 

It’s uneven, ugly—grass won’t grow in parts, and the patio area was too small for much of anything beyond a chair.

 

A. Chair.

 

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So I planned. I planned a budget, and a strategy.

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I raked and dug and broke the earth with my bare hands. I broke rocks until my arms were sore, my back ached and my hands bled.

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I shoveled and leveled and laid each piece of the patio down, one tile at a time.

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I built, I assembled.

 

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And then, I finished.

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Sure, there are tweaks to be made, plants to be planted, a grill to assemble still, but by and large, it’s finished.

 

And as I sit out here, in my own private bar patio, coffee house, living room and office—My Blue Heaven—writing this rather bland post about Doing It Myself, I feel proud of what I made.

 

I am content with where I am—A satisfied man.

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My Blue Heaven, Pt. 1

June 11, 2014

I acknowledge the fact that I’ve written very little as of late.

 

This is for two primary reasons:

 

I’m in the process of curating and revising a book of short stories, essays and poems for a Fall 2014 release. This takes time not to write, but to review what I’ve already done, to coordinate with my editor and designer…

 

But.

 

The main reason, is my reaction to the most current mental funk, manual labor.

 

I’ve lived here for four years now. Every nice day I spend the majority of it out back, sitting on my porch, top step.

 

I write, drink, and play out there. I watch my dogs at their happiest.

 

But I never leave that porch, save to take the trash out to the alley.

 

So I decided to fix that.

 

I love my backyard. It has no trees, but the neighbors do, and that gives me shade, and my dogs room to run and romp and play.

 

So this month has been spent digging, raking, tilling, laying down patio and assembling things.

 

I’m not finished, but I’ve done enough now to sit out here on a couch, typing this blog as Daisy chases lightning bugs and Deuces sits next to me for the ear scritches.

 

Stay tuned. You know I like to share.

 

 

Fondly: Fumbling in the Dark

November 7, 2013

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It was dark before he even got home.

 

He, of course, forgot to leave a light on. This meant fumbling in the dark, something he should be used to by now in every sense of the phrase.

 

He didn’t do anything for the first thirty seconds through the doorway. He just stood quietly; his dog jumping in place in the mixed euphoria of his best friend’s return and dinner.

 

He took a deep breath, placed a calm hand on the dog’s head, and sighed before heading to the kitchen.

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As the dog inhaled his dinner, he mixed a drink. Carefully—deliberately.

 

Solemnly.

 

The kitchen window had already transformed into a mirror, giving him a darkened, slightly obscured reflection.

 

He looked more disheveled than normal.

 

Usually, it was a part of his charm, but now he just look defeated.

 

Deflated and beaten down.

 

It wasn’t any one thing. It was every little thing. One thing after another, in every part of his life; raindrops collecting in a bucket that was just about full.

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He didn’t bother taking off his coat, merely loosening his tie as he walked back to the living room, his dog trailing at his feet.

 

When he flipped the switch to turn on the lamp, he was met with a flash and a pop, followed by darkness. That was his last light bulb.

 

When it rains it pours.

 

He took a drink and sat down, as his dog curled up beside him, head in lap.

 

Left to fumble in the dark until sunrise.

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Rain

April 26, 2013

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Sometimes, a gentle rain can be my muse.

The sound—as it hits the roof of my car, silently drawing tear stained trails down the windows. The low thunder pushing the normal sounds of the city far below, turning the world outside into a silent movie.

Sometimes, a gentle rain is all I need for that moment to arrive.

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I was beating my head against a wall this morning, failing at every attempt at wit or aspiration in my words. Distractions didn’t help, they simply lived up to their name.

So I stepped out into the rain.

I neither lingered nor ran. I simply lit a cigarette and walked to my car, with sky speckled glasses.

I wasn’t in search of a warm, dry refuge.

I was in search of my muse.

A tangle of smoke, a tear drop of rain and perhaps a small spark that I might turn into a fire.

Inspiration comes from anywhere, if you let it.

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For All the Casualties…

June 1, 2009

mid2I’ve been there…trust me.

More than once, and on both sides of the coin, I’ve been there. I’ve sat in an office, listening to the hum of computer monitors and neon lights, while long faces stared back at me.

I’ve been given an empty cardboard box to fill, and I’ve been escorted to the door. I’ve felt the numbness that follows for the next few hours, followed by the washes of fear, rage and sadness.

I’ve woken up the next day, wandering aimlessly around the house trying to figure out what to do first.

I’ve done my weekly check-ins, and cashed my government checks. I’ve taken the occupational downgrade, reverting to my college-aged vocations, to not make ends meet.

Believe me, I’ve been there.

I remember, at the peak of my dissent into the underbelly of recessions, I found myself laboring in a kitchen. Prepping, cooking, serving and washing dishes. A twenty-year-old was my boss, and I was trained to clean a toilet and mop a floor.

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I remember one night, a particularly busy night, I popped out of the kitchen, wet apron from my belly to my knees from scrubbing lipstick stains off coffee mugs, only to find myself face to face with one of the survivors of the layoff that left me a casualty.

He seemed genuinely glad to see me.

All I saw, however, was the job I didn’t get to have anymore. I saw someone who could afford to hang out where I earned my minimum wage.

He was pissing in the toilet I had to clean.

I don’t recall what I said, but I know it was said with a scowl, before retreating through the kitchen and out back to sit and smoke a cigarette, quietly taking stock of what was left of my soul.

So, yeah. I’ve felt the hopelessness.

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I’ve sent out the resumes and made the cold calls. I’ve contacted my friends in the industry, none of whom could help, as they were too busy trying to keep their own jobs.

I’ve been there, and if I could give any advice on the matter, aside from stressing the importance of filing for unemployment, it would be this:

This isn’t your fault. You weren’t fired for being bad at what you do. More to wit, a lot of you were laid off for doing too good a job—for earning your bonuses and raises, year after year.

You were never expendable, just your salary.

You are no less talented than you were before the layoff, you are no less of a person. You’re just another casualty of the cola wars, of which there are many.

You are not alone.

Things will turn around, eventually. It may take years. It took about seven before I clawed my way back out of the service industry…

…and there’s no guarantee I won’t be back someday.

It may be a long while, but corners will be turned.

In the meantime, get a hobby or two. This is the free time you always pined for when you had none. Unemployment is punishment enough; don’t avoid what might give you a moment or two of happiness in an otherwise stygian time.

Follow your muse, while you still can.

Better Man…

May 18, 2009

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The weekend flew by all too quickly…Monday has arrived too soon.

I’m not ready to be corporate-friendly just yet…but I’ve gotta pay the mortgage and feed my dog Bodhi…

Yes, I have a case of the Mondays…it’s true.

This was one of those weekends where I was so wrapped up in big events, I barely had a moment to relax–to decompress.

I officiated a wedding this weekend…

I wrote a lovely ceremony, got a haircut, showed up in a suit…it went well enough. It’s interesting witnessing a wedding from this vantage point…where you don’t know the families; you’re on the outside of every inside joke…

Everytime I do one of these,though,  it reminds me  how often I’ve been screwed in most every wedding I’ve ever been a part of, outside of officiated as a man of the cloth. (my cloth is full of holes)

This cycle of screw began about fifteen years ago at the hands of my sister.

I love my sister. Growing up she was a good influence and a bad influence, my biggest supporter, and an evil maniacal torturer. She forced me to do skits with her, she traded me a rock for all my toys, she manipulated me into becoming a voluntary slave. Ours was a normal brother-sister relationship. We’ve never shared a true animosity toward one another, just the temporary hatred one develops after being tricked into many an embarrassing event–the surface rage that ultimately turns into the warmest, funniest memories we share.

Growing up with an older sister had its advantages; she was able to share an insight on the fairer sex that I could not find in a locker room or by trial and error. I believe growing up with an older sister made me a more caring and sensitive human being.

Plus she had some pretty hot friends.

What I have with my sister I wouldn’t trade for the world.

But.

Having a sister means being an usher at a wedding. It means you get put to work. No toasts, no dances, no nothing. Just an itchy tuxedo and the dubious honor of walking old people down the aisle and telling them where to sit.

Were she an older brother, I would have been best man.

I’ve always been jealous of my friends who have brothers. The relationship they share is something special–something different. Inherent best friends, they have a bond like no other. Some of my best friends in the world have brothers close enough in age to ensure that I’ll always be number 2 on the list. It’s amazing to see them together, the love hate-relationship multiplied by a thousand. A bond that only they understand.

I watch my friend Steve with his (3) brothers, and I’m consumed with jealousy for the bond they share.–like they’re all in on some joke the rest of us will never get.

I watch my close friend Mike and his brother Eric, and see two men who have grown up taking care of one another, helping one another become greater than they were.

My best friend, the one who’s a real asshole and a heartless bastard (see previous posts), has traversed the world with me. We walked on fire together and expanded our minds. He was standing right next to me when we paid the small, possibly homeless child a dollar to electrocute us with a car battery, while on a tequila binge in Mexico.

But.

His brother was his best man.

Pretty much every shot I’ve had at being someone’s best man is blown by virtue of brotherhood.

I have one last chance, one more best friend left that is still unwed. Another friend I’ve been through hell and back with, a true friend with whom I’ve expanded my horizons through dripping ceilings and cosmic tracers. Who I’ve shared my fears and discovered a part of myself within.

Like me, he grew up with sisters.

But he’ll most likely return stateside already married, and my final chance for a pewter flask or a touching speech at the reception are all but vapor.

I’m probably the acme of fools for regretting something nobody has control over. Regretting never growing up with that bond. It’s not my parent’s fault. They didn’t get to choose what sex Their children would be. But it’s still something I’ll never have, regardless.

Perhaps that’s why my friendships have been so important to me. Perhaps that’s why I’d take a bullet for any of them in a heartbeat.

We may not have the same blood coursing through our veins, but in many respects we’re brothers. Brothers of another mother, but brothers nonetheless.

The bonds I share with my best friends are unbreakable, our devotion to one another unflappable. We’ve had our ups and downs just as blood relatives might, we’ve been there for the biggest and smallest events of one another’s lives.

So maybe I do understand that bond, without even really comprehending it. Maybe I’m missing something that I’ve had for more than 15 years.

But I’ll still never be the best man.

Guess that means I’m the better man.

That means I’ve gotta buy my own damn flask.

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