Wednesday

I'm the slackest blogger ever!

I go through phases with my blog. Slow phases. Slower phases. Complete inactivity.

Lately I'm posting mainly to Twitter. I recommend it! It's so fun. And informative. (It's great for news junkies. News outlets have started Twitter accounts that you can follow: BBC, Google News, News Hour, ProPublica)


Users only get 140 characters to get the thought across, but you get interesting glimpses into people's routines and ways of living and thinking and so on - you really get to know people. Over the course of the day, they might post one, two, three, four . . . twenty...thirty messages to Twitter. Through the accumulation of these on-the-spot updates, you really get to know people.

Try it! Just get in there. Start an account and check it out . . . you can see what everybody's saying in the main Twitter window, the Public Timeline. Just get in there and start posting and following people, and they'll follow you.

And you can hook it all up into your cell phone. You don't need internet browsing on your phone - you can do it with text messages, receive and send. (I'd recommend an unlimited text message plan.)

And you can post code on your blog so that your Twitter messages show up on your blog - like mine do off to the right there.

My Twitter name and link is BobbyBobbyBobby. Hook up with me, and I'll hook up with you! Ask me anything about it in comments here, and I'll hip you to it.

Saturday

Foggy Lately



I wanted to post some pictures of this crazy fog we've had lately.

I wrote a longer entry here before, but I decided to truncate it to the following:

ARE MY MOOD SWINGS PRETTY MUCH SYNCHRONIZED WITH THE GENERAL POPULACE

[...sorry to change this entry on ya's...but: I read this entry again...and you know...it didn't work out...and sometimes I just can't leave an entry be...]




Tuesday

That Thing That Thing That Thi-i-i-ing

I was driving to the YMCA, and I turned on my local Hip Hop station to get psyched up, and they were running this segment called Throw Backs. It's where they play an old song, quote unquote, old...older. From '98, they played Lauryn Hill's Doo Wop (That Thing). And you know what? I was thrown back. I heard this song a lot in those days. I heard it on the dance floor...yeah - the dance floor, I actually was on the dance floor...or on the edge of it...but sometimes I'd get on the dance floor...like if I'd had enough to drink and it was crowded enough and somebody grabbed me by the hand and dragged me. I'd go out there. But I remember hearing it this one time, I was walking into the 7-11 to buy a twelve-pack - this guy was coming out of the 7-11 with a twelve-pack - and he was singing it. He was singing it well. And he was smiling REAL BIG. And he had it right. That song was in the air everywhere, you understand. And it was Friday evening, you know, The Big Quitting Time. And I just remember how terrific and awesome that night was...a great song on the airwaves...got my twelve-pack...was going to be meetin up with people later... You know what? I HOPE THAT GUY WON THE LOTTERY. Here's why: Because life is a party. Life is a workout. Life is a lottery ticket. And you do have to watch out. But you can still have some fun too though see.

Doo Wop (That Thing) - Lauryn Hill

Saturday

In a Funk Yesterday

Yesterday I didn’t have to work, so I went to two book stores and two libraries. As I poked around the county slowly, I got beeped at and scowled at too...and I started to wonder whether all of my human interactions from this day forward would be negative or devoid of value. Generally, strangers feel no need to be nice to you. If the majority of your human contact is with strangers (or coworkers), you’re just not getting the best out of humanity.

I need more positive interactions. I need more friends! The amount of friends that I have (on average) has steadily declined since college. Friends are obligated to be nice to you. Even when they’re giving you shit - what they’re doing - is being nice to you. Yes: Punch me in the stomach. Yes: Throw a slinky into the fan belt of my car.

Yep, I was in a pretty bad funk yesterday. But really, it’s been all week. Maybe a factor in this funk is that holiday depression you hear so much about - which will be especially acute this year because I’m not headed home.

Home.

Home is here now...I guess. The place I used to call home is just a place where a few family members live. The rest of the family has scattered to other states. Maybe the depressing thing is that I don’t have a concrete definition of home.

Oh well. I guess I should just keep a few things in mind:

1. Do I want to spend all of my hours and minutes and days in a bad mood? No.
Should I just let go of the bad stuff? Yes.
2. Are the holidays supposed to be like the ones you see in TV commercials? Maybe. But probably not.
3. Can I treat everybody with compassion? Even the ones who act like jerkoffs? Yes. Maybe. It’s hard. Maybe I can.
4. Maybe being compassionate sometimes means walking by without saying a thing - sometimes strangers don’t want to be dragged out of their shells.

Wednesday

Can't Keep Up - With Anything

I can’t keep up with my bloggin! ...moreover, LIFE is both crushing down on me and sucking my guts out at the same time...I’ll soon squash like an empty beer can. ...or so it seems.

I don’t know: I get up at 5:15, I get to work by 7:00, and I do not blog from work because I got the fear... I get home at about 5:20 or so. ...and then I go to the YMCA maybe (3,4 or 5 times per week - which is not hardcore, I know) I get home and get showered up - what - 7:00 or 7:30? I eat some slop and sit on the couch with Newshour hyperanalytical and somnolent in the background, and I’m dozing. I might do some offline reading, some chattin with the wife...before I know it, I am knocked out.

Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving

Glancing outside, I can see that most of my neighbors decided not to hit the roads for the holiday. My wife and I went with that option as well. She’s actually working a few hours today.

The headlines predicted lower volume on the roads for Thanksgiving. This economy. We’ll have a nice cozy thanksgiving together. I’m just used to a bigger turnout on holidays.

We’ll probably stay here for Christmas too. We saw everybody during the wedding, and I personally am out of vacation days and spendable cash etc...etc...

I spent Christmas of 2006 alone actually. And it felt unnatural. Luckily, that’s the only time I ever did that. I’ve always been lucky enough to have family around for Christmas. But in 2006, some plans fell through at a point when it was pretty much too late to try to come up with new plans...to travel anywhere, and I ended up being here in Florida alone on Christmas. My wife was in Virginia with her mom and brother. I have a sister and a subsequent branch of family in Virginia too, and I have a sister and a subsequent branch of family in North Carolina as well. But for Christmas 2006, I was going to hook up with my nephew, who was living a couple hours north in Ocala, Florida...but it kinda never happened...his plans got all jacked up.

It was weird being alone on Christmas. I would just go for these long drives. There were bars open with people in them. But I didn’t stop in. I drove by...they had their doors propped open. It was really warm that night. Early in the day we had one of our weird winter-time tornados. It ripped through the forest north of my my place in Eustis.

...wow, I was going somewhere with all of this, but now I can’t remember where that was (why do I do that).

I guess: just...have some happy holidays, and if you’re with people, enjoy their company...and if you’re alone, maybe there’s a bar that’s open...that you can drive by. You could go in too.

Monday

Worried about Layoffs

I am doing some power-worrying about my job and the job market in general. What if I get canned, and I can’t find anyone willing to hire me? What if I can’t get a nice, cozy, cushy cubicle job? I’ve been brainstorming this all day.

Mowing the lawns of foreclosed homes - Banks have in their possession all of these empty, foreclosed homes, and nobody is taking care of the grass. The banks get fined by cities and counties and so on - - if the lawns get too unruly. Maybe you could just call up a bank and ask them if they have any lawns they want mowed. Here in Florida, the grass grows pretty much all year I guess.

Substitute teaching - This might be cool. It doesn’t pay much. I don’t know how much work there is...every week there’s a new headline about budget cuts, it seems like.

Obama’s New Deal type stuff - Maybe these public works projects they keep talking about will be for real. They’re going to fix up schools, right? Are they going to hire more teachers? That’d be good. Maybe I’ll end up working on some public works construction project...road crew or something like that. Some of the Obama New Deal stuff is supposed to be green, right? It would be pretty sweet to learn how to wire up a field of solar panels. I took some computer aided drafting classes a few years ago - I wonder if I could get in somewhere in a drafting job.

Unemployment benefits - I’m not sure I’ll get to go out like that, I would hope so. I’ve heard it’s only about half what you make. I guess I could go indefinitely on that. It’d be tough to find new work and keep your gas costs and cell phone costs down - while you’re rolling in half the usual amount of dough. And there would be the temptation to do lots and lots of daytime drinking. Bad bad bad.

Move back to DC - Even after the dotcom bust and 9/11, DC was adding jobs. DC was doing better than other cities. I bet there are a lot of jobs opening up right now in DC.

I guess I could last a few months with no income at all - maybe six months. I can’t imagine going any longer than that. Maybe I should imagine harder.

Maybe little economies will develop in our communities. Barter and so on. What service could I offer?

Flea Market - Maybe I could find great stuff at yard sales that I can mark upand sell. I could rent a table at a flea market. There will be a lot of flea market shopping for the holidays this year, I’ll bet. Maybe I could go in on a little baking thing with Keri. Sell some baked goods at the flea market. Maybe I could make T-shirts with crazy/funny/morbid/goofy writings and drawings on them.

I still have my warehouse idea - I could rent a warehouse (cheaper than you might think) and I could move into that beast, and I could charge people to store their junk there. I would want to do this near a college campus or a military base where there’s a lot of transience and shuffling along, residence to residence. Maybe I could open a small retail storefront on the warehouse and ship packages and send faxes and sell all kinds of random crap - resell cell phones, calling cards - all that stuff - anything - whatever.

Maybe there will be some new need for writers...like paid writers...who will get paid to write things...like news. This is the wrong time to live in a news blackout. Shoot, has anybody considered bailing out the newspapers? Newspapers would seem pretty important in a time of crisis. Maybe the nonprofit model of journalism will hold some opportunity for a writer wannabe like me.

OR HERE’S ONE: What’s to stop a person from writing a local news blog and selling a few ads? Selling the ads, I guess, is the problem. You call up some local auto repair shop and tell them you have started a blog to cover local news and that you would like them to purchase an ad and suddenly you hear a click and the dial tone starts back up.

Friday

Another Big Headline About Planets OUT THERE

These articles lately about discoveries of planets around nearby stars in the skies - and our abilities to study them: They really throw me into sci-fi mode. They also throw me into armchair social scientist mode...and they also throw me into hairbrained-quack-kook theorist mode. Hairbrained-quack-kook theorist mode can be a lot of fun. Anybody can be a theorist. (I write 'theorist' on applications and forms in the blank for OCCUPATION.)

Obviously, we wouldn’t be able to travel the trillions of miles to visit these planets...which are only faint dots on a monitor at this point...and indeed: they have yet to find a planet out there that seems like it could support life...but...according to this quote of a quote via AP science writer Seth Borenstein:
It's only a matter of time before "we get a dot that's blue and Earthlike," said astronomer Bruce Macintosh of the Lawrence Livermore National Lab.

If we can receive an image of the place, we can receive light from the place right? ...we could receive signal from the place...we could send signal to the place then, logically, right? We can’t get our bodies back and forth to there. But we can get some signal going back and forth.

Linguists and code crackers could decipher their signals maybe. Maybe a common language could be formed. Maybe we could connect our internet with their internet, connect our satellite communications with theirs. Maybe we’ll be reading their blogs some day. How different will they be from us? Are there certain aspects and elements of society that are universal? Do they have elections? A left and a right? Do they have graffiti? Hackers? Maybe they’ll hack our communications. Are we worth hacking? Maybe they are already hacking us. Maybe they already have blogs on 'our' internet. Maybe my blog is one of them. Maybe I'm a space alien. You don't know. Maybe me and my pointy-eared, big-brained, compadres from the other planet are easing you into the idea, right now, that there are other bloggers out there on other planets.

Sunday

Florida, an Uncool Part of It

So Florida went to Obama. I voted for the winner! Too bad my particular county didn’t go to Obama. Lake County Florida went to McCain, unofficially, with 82,000 votes, according to our paper, the Daily Commercial. 62,0000 votes went to Obama.

So I don’t live in a cool part of Florida.

I got to Florida in May of 2006. I had always wanted to try out Florida. My parents lived here before I was born, so I had heard all about it. Keri was offered a job down here, and I was interested in living here - so we made the move...I can do my particular type of work anywhere (cubicle dweller/clerical/paper shuffler/data processor/net surfer/pipe dream dreamer/writer wannabe).

I was interested in Florida for dopey, Micky Mouse reasons. I had the picture postcard impression of Florida...which does exist...but there's a lot more to Florida (meaning less). I don't know. You have some big metro areas and a bunch of backwaters in between - just like any state, I guess.

I haven't really connected with a lot of people here where I live. I drive pretty far away into work - into the Orlando metro area. When I stop to get gas in the morning around the corner, there aren't a lot of people like me standing at the pumps: Khakis and polo shirt; nine-year-old four-door sedan; office worker slouch; NPR's Morning Edition audible through my windows...no...mostly pickup trucks. All kinds of labor and skilled labor: electricians, landscapers, masons, welders, general construction, framers, roofers, sheet rockers, etc... I'm not in my element.

There are a couple of idiots with rebel flags on their trucks near where I live. I actually see this more often than one might expect out here in Lake County Florida. It's a hate symbol, plain and simple. All those morons who say it's heritage not hate - forget that, Homie. It's cool though: Somebody spray painted 'I love you' right on the driver side window of one of those rebel flagged trucks. HA! Welcome to the 21st century.

Wednesday

No Audio

A guilty pleasure of mine is to watch that TV show, Cops, like when I’m running on the treadmill at the YMCA. I watch it without sound because I always have some sort of fast, aggressive and heavy music searing my inner ears via iPod. On the episode I watched today, two cops in Cincinnati, Ohio got dispatched to a graffiti call. The two cops arrived at the scene, an apartment building. Two guys were sitting there outside the building, beneath a long graffiti sentence. They made no move to flee, they remained still. The graffiti looked like it could have been written with a grease pencil or an oil pastel in black. It said, “I have a vision and I want to see it through.” One of the guys had black stains all over his fingers, the camera zoomed in on his hands. The guy looked like he was in his early to mid twenties. He rose and spoke with the officers. I have no idea what was being said, I just wanted to watch. For some reason it seemed like the spectacle would be more pure if I didn’t have the audio. The kid didn’t seem drunk or anything. I mean, I don’t know. He wasn’t swaying. He wasn’t shaking. He wasn’t twitchy. There was something odd about his eyes though. He looked like he was on the verge of crying if you looked at his eyeballs...but the rest of his face conveyed resolve. He seemed intent on standing there and conversing with the cops and responding to every question they put to him. After about seven minutes of questioning, the young man turned around and placed his hands behind his back. The police put handcuffs on him and escorted him to the back of their patrol car. The two police men then walked up to the graffiti on the wall. They read it and looked at each other and smiled. And then the show went to a commercial.

Sunday

Go Easy on Me When You Start Reading My Thoughts

The 60 Minutes story about people operating computers using only their thoughts and some of the other stories lately about EEG, "measurement of electrical activity produced by the brain as recorded from electrodes placed on the scalp," has got my mind racing.

You know that this technology will only get more efficient and advanced. That is the inevitable thing that technology does - it improves. Soon our brains will be like little wifi-ready computing/thinking units that can be read by other computing/thinking units and gadgets. We'll be reading each other's thoughts.

I guess you will be able to get the equivalent of an tinfoil hat - a blocking technology - a force field around your brains that will prevent people from peepin at your thoughts. But some folks will be able to hack it just like hackers always find ways to hack everything.

Maybe it will bring about a new accountability once we can all see each other's thoughts. We will achieve a supreme empathy. Will we cull certain undesirable thoughts and intentions...because they are rejected by the viewing public... How much of a shock will it be to see the thoughts of others? Does it depend on the person? What about people who think weird thoughts...and really can't help it... Maybe our weird thoughts won't seem so weird when we see the weird thoughts of others.

Thursday

Lately, the highlights of my days - my nights, I mean, are the short walks to the dumpster to take my trash out.  As I walk, I stare up at the stars.  It's really clear out.  The stars are so bright.  I feel connected with the whole universe and it gives me great perspective. 

I read a couple of articles about the solar system around Epsilon Eridani.  Supposedly it's pretty similar to our solar system.  You know what I'm going to say next, right?  Of course:  Maybe there's some guy on a planet in the Epsilon Eridani solar system taking his trash out across the parking lot looking up at his skies, looking right at me as I take out my trash, looking right at him.

Saturday



I'm at work trying to knock out masses of tasks when I get a call from Fedex - my shipment was set up improperly by the Fedex Kinkos store guy, and they’re going to send it back - mementos and gifts from our wedding...too much stuff to lug onto the plane.

I'm at work trying to knock out masses of tasks when I get a call from Comcast - they want to give me cable TV. The internet-only package I currently have, apparently, costs more than their new internet + cable package. A couple weeks before, they'd disconnected my internet by mistake...and a couple weeks before that too.



I'm standing in a bar a couple nights before my wedding - a guy steps up beside me and puts one hand on my chest and one hand on my back and tries to toss me out of the way, saying, "ExCUse me."



In the rental car we rented for the wedding weekend, we found the funeral bulletin for a woman named Sylvia. The people who rented the car September 13th left it under the seat, and it finally slid out.



The reasons and circumstances involved in other people's contacts with you...that seem random to you...but which may be deliberate...as deliberate as we humans are able to define...or more so...or less so...I was going somewhere with this...but now I don't know where I'm going with this.

Wednesday

My morbidly curious side wonders how bad this economic meltdown could get. I mostly doubt that it will cause much of a disturbance in my life, but you just wonder: how bad could it get. Will the atm machines just stop spitting out money? Will unemployment go up to 25 percent like it did during the depression? Could it get worse? Will there be major interruptions in utilities? Commerce? I was wondering what the best items would be to use for units of commerce in the barter system that inevitably will emerge. What will we trade? Cigarette lighters would be good. Or building materials: nails, boards, bricks -nah- too bulky. Food items, of course...nonperishable. Batteries. Or could we trade our labor? People who can cut hair will cut hair. People who can build - they’ll build for you (for a fee). What could I offer? Maybe gangs will form...not necessarily malicious gangs - but folks who know each other and look out for each other. Where will we all live? Will we all become squatters? They won’t be able to monitor and patrol all the empty houses and units and warehouses and facilities...etc...we’ll all be squatters.

Saturday

Who was it who first explained death to me? Was it my mom? She might have told me about it during one of our many conversations during the day...while my dad was at work...and we drifted from department store to department store...or we just sat on the porch. She's the one who told me about our dog, Wolf, getting killed by the mailman's jeep. That's the first time I ever cried about death.

Or was it my dad who told me about death? He explained all sorts of phenomena: scientific things, mechanics, engineering, war, history, sports...

Or was it my sister? If so, I wouldn't have believed her. I would have worried that she was trying to pull a fast one on me. "Some day, you die."

"Will not."

"Will too."

"Will not."

How did this belief in death get so solidified? What about my beliefs in Santa and God?

I have seen quote unquote dead people. Were they faking? I have seen movies where people get killed in gruesome, convincing ways. It's just a movie. I have seen people here one day and then gone the next, and they haven't come back yet. People say that they died. Did they really just wander off?
In my readings lately about getting my mind right, I’ve seen a recurring idea. These books about anxiety management and anger management and Buddhist wisdom - they assume that there is an inner happiness in all people...and that anger and anxiety and other negative emotions are just temporary and minor deviations from the foundation of happiness which is there and which has always been there.

I’m not so sure.

I was trying to tally up all of my times, viewing all of the periods of my life. ...grade school, junion high, high school, college, full-time in the workforce. When I view these periods of my life, it’s hard to remember whether I was mostly happy or mostly sad - minute to minute, hour to hour. It’s hard to remember whether I ever had a default happiness mode.
You never know who will end up sitting down next to you at a bar...especially at the odd and off times...like 2 p.m. on a week day. Your judgment may or may not be so great, depending on how long you've been sitting there drinking. When the guy next to you at the bar starts ranting about how he'd enjoy beating the shit out of this or that guy because this or that guy kept putting his arm around him...well...order one last shot and drink it and leave. That's my advice. You just can't know who you should say hello to. You can't quite finish your beer quickly enough when he mentions he sleeps with a shotgun next to his bed (which means he's probably got a gun on him). You can't signal the bartender quite quickly enough when the guy seems to welcome the destruction of the world markets and the world in general. You can't scratch out a tip amount and a total and a signature on the credit card voucher quite quickly enough when he boasts that he actually earns his best commissions during times of disaster. The best you can do -I guess- is pay your tab, drink up, wish the guy the best of luck and walk out.

Friday

I returned from my trip to Virginia and found out my neighbor had been evicted. He is the friendliest and most generous person I've met in Florida. He and I went out and got rip-snorting drunk one night, no lie. We were trashed. His ex-wife had taken the kids that night for the first time in forever, so he was really wanting to whoop it up. So we did.

Anyway, his wife really did him wrong and continues to do him wrong. She cheated on him and left him -- with two little kids. She barely ever takes them when it's her turn. She sends him hateful text messages. She tried (apparently successfully) to sabotage a thing he was trying to develop with a new love interest. She cornered his love interest in a bar and told her all this hateful horrible crap. I would say that the ex-wife is a total freakin loser, but she's a fireman (fire(wo)man), so I guess she pumps some good kharma into the economy.

So his luck wasn't bad enough, so now's he's evicted. He moved into these crummy apartments because he couldn't hold down his house due to the mortgage/real estate bust. He was in construction. The work dried up. His mortgage payment probably adjusted north in a big bad way, so income definitely fell away from the outlay.

How many people are there out there like this? The economy is pinching hard. When will it turn around? A year? Two? I think it'll come back piece by piece. Education, then jobs, then housing, then global. What do I know? Ask an economist. Ask a futurist.
My sister's house was hit by some stray bullets a few nights ago. A gun fight broke out at about 1:00 am. A guy was hiding between my sister's place and the place next door, and somebody was shooting at him, and he was shooting back. There were just lots and lots of shots apparently. Two of the bullets pierced windows in my sister's place - which - would surely have killed or seriously wounded anybody, had they been standing there.

I wasn't there at the time. I was in town for the week, but I wasn't at her place when it happened. This was in Portsmouth, Virginia - where I'm from.

My sister's side yard and driveway has become a cut-through point for foot traffic from the alley. Due to the destruction of the fence behind my sister's place and the construction of another fence blocking the old cut-through point, the traffic now flows right under my sister's windows.

The landlord was out there the morning after the gun fight looking at the various bullet holes in his units and puzzling over fence configurations. My sister was angry. I asked her why she doesn't move out of there, because I wasn't really thinking - I was angry too. My dumb question made my sister even angrier, and she asked, Move where?!

She's on disability and her husband is too. His case always seemed kind of bogus...Sleep apnea. But: What do I know? Ask a doctor. Ask an auditor. Ask a prosecutor. My sister's disability is due to her back. Legit. She is in so much pain all the time it makes me want to cry. I've written about her and her back problems before. Maybe it's uncool to write about her...maybe it's good that these stories are told. What do I know? Ask a sociologist. Ask a lawyer. Ask a caseworker. I don't write much about the other folks in my family. I don't know if they'd mind...but some of them read my blog (and all of them can kick my ass, especially Karen.) I don't think they'd mind. But they have access to the internet and they're able to tell their own stories. My sister in Portsmouth - she's broke as hell...and she doesn't have much access to the internet - - which is a goddamm shame...she is the most curious person and the hungriest reader you'll ever meet.

There's so much I could babble about regarding my sister's neighborhood. I'll spare you. But one thing I noticed over and over -for some reason it grabbed my attention- as I made my visits over the seven days I was in town: there was a naked Barbie doll tossed up on the roof of one of the row houses, near my sister's place. Another thing I notice: There are always about thirty kids (no exaggeration) - like twelve-years-old and under - sprinting around, speeding down the sidewalk or down the street on bicycles, or popping up and down on skateboards, or wrestling, or near-fighting, or fighting, dog-piling, screaming, hugging, crying, laughing, smiling, eating ice cream, sharing, taking away, throwing rocks, asking you endless questions, or playing curb ball -- which is where you try to throw an inflated ball and hit the curb across the street - hitting the curb right on the edge - so that the ball bounces right back to you. Otherwise the ball bounces into the hands of the kid across the street.

Saturday





I snapped these right next to the 417, which will be the eastern section of Orlando's beltway. The western section of Orlando's beltway will be completed once FDOT and lobbyists and lawyers and politicians can work out all of the proper bribes necessary to acquire the land needed. I was on my way to the college bookstore to pick up my order when I saw this. The flooding from tropical storm Fay really pushed the water levels up here, right near the St. Johns River and Lake Jessup, which is where they release a lot of the wayward alligators that wander into people's yards and into grade school auditoriums and so on.

Campus - I've only been on campus five times, though I have already completed a course...online. I'm doing another course online. Whenever I go on campus, as I've said several times before, I get self conscious about my age and shit.

So many conversations were going on around me in the crowded bookstore as we all waited in line to pick up our books. I wanted to just get everybody's attention - all the young students, the eighteen-year-old freshmen - I wanted to announce to all of them: Go ahead and get your degrees and don't worry. There will be a place for you in the workforce...not doing whatever it is you're studying...but there is a cubicle waiting with plenty of meaningless, tedious work. Have your fun now. Some of you, of course, who really have your shit together, you will get a job in whatever it is you're studying. Some of you will get doctorets and end up waiting tables. Some of you will barely get through your leisure studies courses and become CEO's. You'll end up where you end up, in short. The stuff you're doing now might not mean much later on. It might and it might not.

Friday

37-Year-Old Blogger Asks (again): What now?


... but he may or may not want an answer to that question...

Every day I ask this, What now? ...not seeking an answer, but instead seeking a way of thinking. I think.

Everything I'm reading lately says to start looking for the real me... look beyond the suspicions and expectations and emotional tint and other insubstantials and get a good look at the real me...quit complaining and try to be kind and play the cards that are dealt and see obstacles as inevitable parts of the path - not booby traps set specifically for me by people who really are not enemies, just fellow humans I bump into.

I’m doing pretty good lately, I guess you could say. I’m reading great books. I feel like I’m making progress in various ways, and slipping only in a few categories. I wish I was in more frequent contact with my family, that’s one category I’m slipping in. Everybody’s busy and broke though, including me. This is another category where I’m slipping, I guess...or neither slipping nor advancing, which in True Economics, means slipping. But I applied for a better paying position in the same organization, so that’s good. It at least feels like I’m working toward something there...just in case some day I realize that work and personal finance are important.

But if I do get this new job, there will be little time for daydreaming. That will throw me out of balance. Daydreaming is an important element of me, and I don’t think it’s a sin.

Sunday

He is my last man. The last soldier or toy of any kind I have from my childhood. After all of the moves to all of the homes, four different states, ten different cities...after all of the times I gave stuff away or otherwise pared down my possessions, I still have this guy. Yes, he was there - Stalingrad, Comrades. And Stalingrad did not fall. Nostrovia!

Saturday

I decided to just open up my computer and start typing a blog post. I have nothing in mind, nothing meaningful has happened to me lately. This is a free write. I'm still making the hour long drive to work. I'm still in a dull job where I have lots of time to think. I'm still addicted to the internet. I'm still a recovering television addict, six months sober. It's Saturday. I ran some errands today: picked up the wedding ring from the FedEx distribution center, took back a library book, got my car worked on, roamed around the mall and became paralyzed with indecision: I could not figure out what to do next, so I sat on a bench. I witnessed a couple of very loud cell phone conversations. I heard a retired guy telling this story to a shoe salesmen: was working for the phone company in '65, I think it was, and a metal pole fell off the truck and damn near destroyed the toe. ...I'm reading the same book every time I go in the book store, it makes lots of references to other great books which also refer to books. ...I wondered what it would be like to walk from Eustis, Florida to Gainesville, Florida (and then beyond) via 441...while my car was getting serviced, I walked to the mall on 441, and on the way back to get my car, walking on 441, which is all sidewalks and strip malls, I wondered what it'd be like to just keep walking. 441 is not as scenic as the Appalachian Trail, but I was confused. I cut across a parking lot and wondered what it'd be like to be chased by cars in an empty parking lot in the middle of the night.

Friday

In my ongoing love affair with anything musical from Brazil...

Elis Regina canta "Upa Neguinho"



...and also, a little bit of talkin, and then some singin from...

Chico Buarque e Caetano Veloso - Tatuagem/ Esse Cara

Thursday



I haven't really had any serious trauma in my life (everybody has deaths in their families, I've had those (maybe a little more than my share in the last ten years, but...)) - maybe no more than usual - not really.

I mean: My childhood was not too horrible...not really...there was a hell of a lot of yelling and screaming. I did not actually see violence (I was the youngest, I guess they kept it in the other room), I heard some scary banging and bouncing around, and people said there was violence. Some. Not constant. Not really that often. I think. I didn't see it. It was there. I was scared by it, but I don't think I had an experience that was all that traumatic.

People who have had trauma - they are certainly more aware of their trauma than I am of my minor scares and fears. Maybe people with real trauma are more likely to take action to move toward healing than somebody like me with low grade misery in my past. I'm less likely to address my problems because I really didn't realize there were problems. But there were. There are. I grew up in a really angry freakin home. There was a lot of love too, don't get me wrong. But all that anger...sheesh. I gotta try and shake that shit.

Tuesday

All of this reading I'm doing lately about peace of mind and mental health and anxiety and anger - it shakes the crazies loose in my head. As I work all this stuff out...tracing things to their proper origins...reframing things...making discoveries...because of these things I'm trying to do: I have had some real grouchy moments lately and some real panic-ridden moments...I guess it was panic...maybe it was heightened confusion or...just these anomalous knots...or something...some kind of crazies being exercised out, rooted out, weed whacked - - it's like pushing your lawn mower back and forth over a crazy person's daily art diary - and all that crazy confetti shoots out. As I try to untangle my brains, some odd feelings spring out.

But: I have passed some tests lately too: I've also let some irksome or possibly volatile things slide on off of a seamless slickness of cool-headed chillness. So, there's some good and some bad. I'm working toward that mostly good state.

Sometimes I just ask myself: Am I getting worse or am I getting better?

A lot of it is choice. Do I want to make peace and be content with my current situation? Or do I want to struggle for a better situation? What's better? Who knows? Can I be happy realtime as I try for that overall happiness?

In that anger book I read, it said that if you're not acknowledging your emotions for what they truly are, you can ruin your creativity. I don't want that.

Now then: Let's turn our attention to our breathing. Your mind may wander from this meditation. It's okay. Just gently guide your attentions back. Right here. You will hear things in your surroundings. You will sense things. It's okay. Thoughts will come, they will occupy your consciousness. Don't hold on to them. Let them come and let them go. Let go. Just let go....and all that.

Sunday

A 75-year-old woman fell on the treadmill today at the YMCA. I didn’t actually see it, I heard it. It sounded terrible and I jumped off my machine and saw this poor lady on the floor. Only a few people were concerned enough to interrupt their workouts to check on her and help her out. We got her on her feet and she just stood there staring straight ahead. A couple of people went back to what they were doing. I asked the lady if she was okay. I asked if she was at the Y alone or with somebody. She kept saying ‘yeah’ to every question.

“Are you here with somebody?”

“Yeah.”

“Who are you here with?”

“Yeah.”

This big-ass weight lifter had helped her up, but he was kind of pacing around not sure whether to leave her be or what. I went up to him and said she seemed very disoriented to me, that we should do something. His wife was a nurse or had some kind of medical background. She came along. We got a chair for the lady to sit in. We’re asking her all these questions, and people walked up...did whatever survey of the severity of the situation they felt was necessary...and then walked off. I was alone with the lady a few times there. Finally I got it out of her who she was with, and I got him over there. And more people were around then, and there was a young guy working there, working the room where all the treadmills and so on are. The phone system was out...crazy...so the kid called 911 on his cell.

There were only three of us who thought the call to 911 should happen. The other four or five didn’t seem to have a plan or didn’t think it was that bad. The lady was not communicating well at all. She seemed dazed and dizzy and out of it. Then I heard somebody saying she’d just been discharged from the hospital...with some kind of condition that causes one to have difficulty communicating or whatever. I don’t know what the hell that means.

The more I talked with the lady - or tried to - the more I thought we gotta call 911. So what if it’s a false alarm. False alarms happen. ...but now I’m feeling kind of dopy and panicky and silly for freakin out like that. It scared the hell out of me, but I’m pretty sure I did the right thing. Still, though, I have this feeling that I'm kind of a dope...and I can't reason it away. Maybe I overreacted. I'd rather overreact than underreact. I'd rather be dealing with the feeling that I was a dope instead of dealing with the feeling that I watched a 75-year-old lady flop onto the floor while I continued my workout, just turning up the volume to drown out the annoying sounds coming from some irksome commotion...know what I mean?

Saturday

Ouch, My Back


My back's been hurting me. It's not that severe right now, but a couple of months ago, it got so bad, I was laid up for a few days. I couldn’t figure out the exact cause of it then. I had gone to the gym one morning, and then I was hunched over my computer all that afternoon - computer on the coffee table, me on the couch. That evening I tried to get up, and pains shot down through my legs, and I couldn’t straighten all the way up. All I wanted to do was lay on the floor, on my back, with my heels pulled up into my butt. It’s not that bad right now, but I do feel some pain in there. I hope my back doesn’t get as bad as my sister’s back.

My sister was working in a daycare center, and she reached over a chain link fence to pick up a kid. The kid started kicking and fighting, and the strain blew her back out. She ruptured a disc. They operated on her, and she was okay for a while, but then it went out on her again. They tell her now that it’s degenerative, it’s only going to get worse. She’s actually on the fentanyl patch. Fentanyl is like 50 or 80 times more powerful than morphine. It amazes me that they make it in a patch...but then...they make a painkilling lollipop out of the stuff, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.

Once my sister slaps one of those fentanyl patches on, she’s in for quite a trip. She’s trying to get off of them. She doesn’t want to be all doped up like that. But as her pain increases, they have to up her dosages, upgrade her meds. Sometimes when I see her, she’ll be fine and coherent and lucid, but then she’ll take one of her stronger meds, and she just gets wasted. Then the medicine gradually wears off, and she’s back with us again. It’s scary. The doctors seem to intimate that it’s a one way street with her back pain. I hope they can advance other treatments before she gets too far into the fog.

Friday

Four Day Weekend


I have no plans. I'm feeling good though. I had a very cleansing one-on-one meeting with the boss, and I presented some grievances and some were presented against me. I’m not sociable enough, she said, I’m not a team player. I pointed out the difference between team player and sociable, and it turned into a sociology debate and then a point by point discussion about what sucks about everybody, and then I asked about new positions opening up in our branch of the org chart...and before we realized it, we had been in that room for two and a half hours. We came out of there laughing.

I want to be a better person.

But I worry I’ll turn into the opposite of a writer. If you’re constantly letting things go (the meditation mantra or whatever, “Let go” “letting go”) . . . if you’re constantly letting go, how do you record anything? That’s what writers do (wannabe writers too)...you’re recording everything.

I guess you record it and then let it go.

I heard a real writer say that once you write it, it’s gone. So maybe that's true - by writing it, you let it go. When you’re writing it, you’re trying to pull pieces of the memory from the past to the present, and you’re assembling the pieces, and soon this thing you’re assembling becomes the new form of it, the new reality of it - - so instead of having an undesirable memory, what you have is this thing you’ve written.

I don’t know if that’s right or if that’s just poetry...I heard some writer say it on NPR. ...by it being poetry, maybe it’s righter than right could possibly be, righter than words could ever say. Maybe by writing it, and writing it out successfully, you have beaten it.

Saturday

What kind of business would you open in a little place like this?



A little insurance office? A travel agency? A cell phone reseller?

Could you just sell advice? Do you have any advice you could sell?



What if you just bought this little place, and opened it up, and just waited for people to come in...and then just wait for them to start talking... "What is this place? What are you selling here? What service are you providing?"

"I am not providing any service," I'd say. "I am simply open... not necessarily for business you understand. Just open. I am open twenty-four, seven."

I'm glad the class is over. I learned a lot, but it was murdah. I'd come home from work (which is busy as hell - well over three hundred emails waitin for me and various other items), then I'd jump right into class stuff...until midnight or beyond sometimes. Rough. But I learned a lot - I was reminded of a lot of fundamental stuff that I've really let go. Important stuff.

Today is wide open. I'm going to enjoy doing nothing, roaming...eyes open and receptive...head empty and receptive.

The stress of that class really made some other stressors - usually minor stressors - made them really spikey and hurty to me lately. For sugar. I'm realizing it. Last night and this morning have been a real decompression.

I'm making other discoveries and realizations too. I'm trying to look at the things that bug me - and look at them as mirrors. Is that something I do too? ...so I have no room to talk? Do I do something similar to that? Should I just shut up and deal with it? I'm also weighing and comparing these heavy weights that are weighing on me - comparing them...sorting the small stuff from the big stuff.

I'm learning...still learning.

Sunday

When I was 19, I was working as a busboy in a pretty fancy restaurant in Portsmouth, Virginia, where I'm from, and I met this guy who I thought was the coolest guy I'd ever met. He was afraid of the dark, and it was so funny. He came running out of a dark storage room one time, and I said, "What's wrong man? What's back there?" And he said, "Nothin, I'm just afraid of the dark." For some reason, I thought that was the coolest thing I'd ever heard in my life. And he had cool clothes and cool hair, and he always said cool stuff.

He was a waiter at the restaurant. The waiters and waitresses are supposed to share a percentage of their tips with he busboys for the services rendered, you know, and he used to tip me out the best out of the whole wait staff. That also added to his coolness factor with me.

He told me about how he played varsity basketball, and his team was the most terrible team ever because they took barbiturates and all kinds of other pills and drugs of all kinds, and they showed up for their games completely wasted and flopped around on the floor and got beaten every time like three hundred to zero.

Anyway, one day I asked him what kind of music he liked, and he said he liked Wire and Television. Wire? Television? I'd never heard of these bands. So right away I checked them out. Here is a video by Television and one by Wire.



Tuesday

I am so freakin busy. Two and a half more weeks of this class. It's fun, but I'll be kind of relieved when it's over. And I'll have some spankin new ideas.

Sunday

I saw these guys - Fishbone - must have been - 1992 or so. The most fun I ever had. People kept hoisting my ass up over their heads and passing me along - surfin - I'd end up all the way across the floor and go back again. They were lettin people come up onto the stage just so that they could dive off. The guys on the stage were cheering for us out in the crowd! It was the most mass energy of crowd I've ever witnessed. I'm getting goose bumps remembering it.
I'm taking IQ tests and trying sample LSAT questions and looking for any other mirrors or gauges of performance, maybe I'll do the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator thing next. Still trying to find myself: my skills, my identity, my aim, my art, my abilities, my disabilities. Who am I? What do I do? What should I do? Am I just some dumb-ass fool who ought to just make as much money as possible - while I can - in order to prepare for when senility sets in? Pre-pay my looney bin tuition, save up for the rent payments at the group home.

I do this now and then: I do all of this searching - self-searching, and I gather some data, and then I do nothing with it. Sometimes you just need to check under your own hood. You just need to know your abilities and thus have indications about your options. Whether you take advantage of any of the options is another matter.

My class starts tomorrow. It's an online class. Cost me more than three hundred beans. It's a creative writing class.

The Engish Department adviser said that creative writing took a hit because of how jacked-up the budget is. You see, Florida doesn't have state income tax. And now that the real estate market has pooped in the bed - there ain't no money - and the Governor is off hangin out in DC trying to get on with the next phase of his career - and meanwhile there is a serious budget problem here in Florida. So important stuff like cops having enough bullets in their guns, firemen having enough hoses, the arts and me being able to rant and rave in a creative writing class - all - facing cutbacks. But I'm getting off track here. (Was I ever on track?)

The Engish Department adviser also said that they lost some key staff in the creative writing shop. I recently obtained a copy of their journal, Florida Review. Not much of a web page, but the actual hard copy journal really got me excited. It's a serious journal, no doubt. I hope that journal doesn't suffer because of the budget mess.

Anyway, I'm searching and searching for myself - if you see me out there sleep walking, give me a call when I wake up.

Friday

I've been reading about personality disorders for hours at Wikipedia. I guess schizotypal personality disorder looks promising, except for the bullshit about believing in magic. I don't believe in magic.

I was liking borderline personality disorder, but I don't think my trip is quite that intense, you know what I'm saying? "Pervasive instability in moods," they say. My mood swings aren't that pervasive, but I'm not a good judge.

As I read about schizoid personality disorder, I thought I had found my disorder. But then I read that the people who suffer from this disorder, "Harbor little desire for sexual experiences with others." That's not the one.

I guess I'll keep reading. I know I ain't right. I'll find what's ailing me.

Tuesday

The house where I grew up was on the main street leading into the neighborhood. Half the people who lived in our neighborhood had to drive by our house to get home. There were two schools right across the street, and there was a park; there were three softball fields and like ten soccer fields. There was so much traffic going by.

When I stood on the porch, it felt like I was standing on a stage. No joke. I felt this weird anxiety. You had a huge audience (huge, moving audience) - with all of those cars going by. I could feel the eyes of every driver and every passenger in every car that went by. It didn't bother me until I hit my teens. I didn't like hanging around out there at all. People in school would come up to me and mention it. Yo, I saw you in your front yard and shit. You were eatin an apple. Hee hee der her ha ha hee hee.. Yo. What? Were you stoned?

Like. Maybe.

I don't know why I blogged this.

Friday

RANT: When All The Newspapers Fold


Where will we get our news when the newspapers go out of business? You hear story after story about layoffs and buy-outs at newspapers. I can understand why paper newspapers are taking a hit - I read all of my news online (while I’m supposed to be working.) I haven’t bought a newspaper in a long time.

So is it all going online? When you go to a newspaper online, you see these gigantic, screen-obscuring advertisements that move around, and you try to chase after the ‘X’ in the corner of the ad to close that beast out. It’s ridiculous.

What is media going to look like after all of these bankruptcies happen, and all of the buy-outs and buy-ups by huge media conglomerates...and...also with the internet neutrality issue (another scary scary thing)...what will they allow us to see on our screens?

And TV news? I gave up on TV. Almost completely. The only time I watch TV is when I'm on the treadmill at the YMCA. And when TV tries to hit me with the commercials, I unplug my ears from TV and plug them in to my iPod - no shit - while I'm running, I'm fumbling with the goddam wires, trying to get my earbuds unplugged and re-plugged at each commercial break. I won't be sold to. Sorry. TV...Cable TV... Why am I going to pay so that they can bombard me with commercials? No way I'd pay for cable TV.

So how will I find out what's going on? I guess I'll just sit in a dark room with the radio on.

Saturday

When I was a little kid, I used to hang out in the our folk's garage and watch as my brother and his friends hoisted V8 engines out of cars using a hand-cranked winch. The winch was attached to chains that hung through holes poked through the garage ceiling. I remember questioning my big brother. Where do those chains go? Won’t daddy be mad that you poked holes in the ceiling?

There’s a steel beam above the garage ceiling in many houses (in all houses?). That's what that chain was wrapped around up there. Later in life, I actually had a job in construction for a short time. I was working for my big brother, framing houses. When we were building the garage, we had to set the steel beam in the ceiling of the garage, a serious task, because that beast is really heavy. Everybody around would stop what they were doing and come help lift the beam into place.

Monday

My Thought Budget


I’m wondering how disappointed I would be if I broke down the amount of time I spent thinking about each subject. What if I actually spreadsheeted it? What would my categories be? Would this make me more efficient? What if I sat there with a stopwatch, and in between thoughts - like when I reach a good stopping point between waves of thought - I stopped the stopwatch and recorded what the thoughts were and how much time I’d spent thinking them...I would become a much more efficient time user!

This, of course, is crazy.

Or is it?

It is.

I, personally, don’t have that kind of mental control. I will be reading a book, for example, and I’ll realize that, hey, that whole last paragraph, my eyes were passing over the words, but I was thinking about...say...putting a frozen pizza in the oven. I can’t direct my mind resolutely enough.

I think I would be ashamed if I spreadsheeted my thoughts. How much time did I spend thinking about stupid stuff like, Damn, that asshole didn’t say Hi to me. Or completely embarrassing stuff that I can’t even bear to mention, let alone record on a spreadsheet. I guess it would be like any other kind of bookkeeping - you hide the embarrassing items under another more vague category, What is this charge on your credit card to...a massage parlor? Yeah, file that under 'OTHER.'

Sunday

I'm consuming way too much information lately. Today I read all day, but I could barely recap any of it to you. I mean, that information is there, stored in my memory. If the subject comes up, I'll remember some article I read, and I'll mention it maybe. Hopefully I'll get it right - I'll recall enough of what I read to make it worthwhile to open my mouth. Otherwise, maybe I should just shut up. Maybe I'm reading all this stuff for entertainment, not for educational purposes - it's not doing me much good.

I get depressed - bloated with barely digested bits of info. I decide, well, it's time to go with what I got and take some action. Create something. Finish something. Do ...something. How many unfinished projects do I have? How many unbegun projects do I have?

At least I'm posting to my blog. I'm typing words and hitting 'PUBLISH POST.' I'm getting some kind of message out to the world. ...or out to a few people anyway.

Friday

I was leaving the YMCA, and I saw a little kid and his mom walking into the neighborhood across the street. The little kid had just finished his karate class at the Y, he had his karate suit on - his gi. The mother was holding the kid's hand as they walked...or...the kid was holding his mom's hand. He seemed to lead the way. I can guess what the kid was thinking. He's fresh out of karate class - even though he's only five years old - he's ready to defend his mom against any attacker - using round house kicks, jabs and flying sidekicks if necessary.

I remember how I used to think when I came out of karate class, when I was five or six years old. I felt cocky. I remember in kindergarden actually saying the following to another kid in my class, "I could beat up a grown-up if I had to."

"Me too," said the other kid.

Wednesday

Disrupted Sleep Patterns, Horrible Videos and Steadfast(ly) (absent) Morals: A Rant


It’s 1:00 AM, and there’s no prospect of sleep, so I’m all over the internet. Inevitably I am faced with the prospect of watching some kind of horrible video - a video I know I shouldn’t watch - but which I am compelled to watch because of my terrible curiosity. If I had a dashboard for my morality, I wonder how the dials would read as I watch some of these videos. Would the needles twitch when I actually decide to watch the video and click on the video? As I watch the video, are my morals shifting? Are these videos changing me? Maybe all the gauges are busted on my morality dashboard. What would an amoralist dashboard look like? I just watched a video that made me never want to have kids - never want to subject a teen to the horrors that other teens will inflict. This video is all over the net right now. You probably know what video I'm talking about.

Sorry, no link.

Maybe watching these videos is necessary - bearing witness - maybe it is making me a better person, because it makes me feel such horrendous pity for some of the characters in the endless stream of videos that makes it to the internet. Maybe instead of being desensitized to violence, I’m becoming more sensitized to violence by seeing these horrible videos. Maybe my moral gauges are not moving a single tick - neither up nor down - no matter what I see out there.

All the New Folks Coming Online


I'm so busy trying to keep up with all of the Web 2.0 stuff, a more worthwhile subject to consider might be the growth of the internet in terms of users. You often see estimates in the news - estimates of how many new users will start going online by the year so and so. These estimates boggle my mind. The internet will be a better place because of the sheer numbers of people and the diversity of the people contributing to it, I think, not because of any of the latest widgets or social media. More people means more ideas. A million new people means a million million more ideas.

I started going online in 1998. That's when I set up my first email account at Yahoo (and actually checked it regularly). I started going into chatrooms at that time - the Yahoo Books and Literature chatroom was where I hung out. Very little was said about Books and Literature in there. In fact, you were scorned if you mentioned books. Not exactly educational. I mean - I did learn to type fast.

I'm ten years into my internet addiction. I can't imagine the nonexistence of the internet. When ever I can't find something on the internet, it really surprises and irks me. Surely this is on the all-knowing, all-seeing internet by now.

All the information you could want is out there - or if it's not the right information - it is still much more than you could consume. Hasn't this made us a much more efficient bunch of busy bees? Or has it just made us busier?

Has the internet made us all more capable of stretching our brains around lots and lots of data and know-how? Is the internet making us into better thinkers? ...or just different types of thinkers. Is the type of thinker we are becoming better or worse? Billy and I had a telepathic chat instant message kind of a thing going where we were both bloggin on this kind of stuff.

I hope all the new users of the internet start blogging everything in their lives. I'll read it all. And I'll leave them goofy comments.

Monday

If a huge flood came, I wonder if I could balance on the tip of a light pole. I would build a tree house dwelling on top of the light pole using whatever debris and material floated by. I could fish and eat what I catch, I could eat seaweed. Drinking water would be a problem. I could condense water inside plastic bags and drain the distilled water for drinking. My friends would float by, and I would adorn their bodies with flowers - flowers that I find floating by. Holy books would float by, and I would transcribe the the pages. I would tuck the transcribed pages into the pockets of my friends, and then I’d gently shove their bodies away into the current. I would reach a point in life where I no longer want to occupy these coordinates - on top of this light pole. I would assemble a raft with whatever debris and material floated by. I would step aboard this raft and float away with the current.

Saturday

A Four Item List:

1. I run on a treadmill a lot lately. When I run for real, I get dizzy or disoriented, my head swims. I'm not used to being in motion when I do the act of running.

2. I've had the same dream a few times lately. There's a soccer game coming up, and I'm running late. I can't find my cleats or shorts or something. I miss the game. I can't play. I wake up disappointed. (I'm not even in a league or anything - - and the players are players from my childhood or different pick-up games I've been in over the years)

3. I'm thinking about graffiti hidden in plain sight... like where you figure out what the font is on an existing 'establishment' sign, and then you duplicate the font and make a sticker to put over the sign - with your own message. Or finding stains or smudges in your surroundings that almost look like a face or whatever - in carpets, or on walls or on this or that - and then finding a paint or something that matches the color of the stain and then completing different images in there.

4. At night, I'm just another set of headlights.


# # # # #

In unrelated news, this is Yellowman at Reggae Sunsplash 1982. I saw him at Sunsplash in nineteen ninety-somethin in Norfolk, VA.



Also, this is Eek A Mouse...saw him a few times.

Sunday

Am I Too Self-Absorbed To Write About Issues?


I write a lot about my self, my situation, my place in the world. I am motivated to provide something useful from my own experience in the hope that it will benefit somebody, something that somebody can relate to. I am best able to write about myself. My contribution is in the more personal things that I experience - the experiences that I evaluate and share, because I think they could have meaning (and maybe value) to others.

I consume four hours of news per day, more if it’s slow at work. And lately, it’s slow at work. I think I could mount a pretty decent rant on an issue if I wanted to. Maybe I’m shirking my duty as an informed citizen by not opining. Opining can repel people though.

The one thing that I can tell you about with absolute expertise is me - my experience. I can give you my little piece of the world. You can fit that piece into your world view.

...sometimes, though, I just let the fingers fly on the keyboard with my brain set to CRAZY MODE and hit 'PUBLISH POST' when it's done...and the meaning may or may not be available...

Saturday

More Notes on 37-Year-Old Me, Going Back to School:


Yesterday I went to an orientation at UCF geared for transfer students. There were 350-400 students in this ballroom getting oriented. There were powerpoint presentations that covered procedures, and there was a video that portrayed student life and so on. The video was like something you’d see on MTV or like a commercial you’d see during a college football game: cheerleaders cheering, football players colliding, students running into the fountain on campus and all kinds of craziness - with a hard driving guitar soundtrack. It was very loud, and I was right under a speaker.

At one point, we were escorted out of the ballroom in groups, by college and by major. So all of the engineers got up and walked out. All of the Business majors. And so on.

I wasn’t the oldest one there, and I was glad, because you’re walking out of a crowded-as-hell ballroom with hundreds of students lookin at you. I don’t know why I can’t get over this issue. I mean: I even had trouble looking these younger students in the face. Isn’t that weird? There were young students running the orientation: escorting us to our advisers, escorting us to registration stations...these escorts were young-as-hell. I felt so out of place. Usually, though, I don’t even need conditions like these in order to feel out of place. (It can all be traced back to some greater mental problem, I'm sure.) I don’t know why I worry so much about what people think of me. I swear, though, I know I never looked that young - not even in kindergarden. But there were a few students - very few - who were older than their twenties, older than old-ass-me even. Maybe one percent.

It was weird sitting there at the table with all these young-as-hell students - some had their parents with them. Their parents didn’t look much older than I am . . . YIKES! Enough about that. It doesn't matter. I'm taking classes online. All of them, if possible.

They almost didn’t let me register for the class I wanted. I am only tentatively enrolled, in fact. I might get dropped. I didn’t have an exact match to their requirement for freshman comp part two or whatever. I have a B.A. in English already. ODU thought I had enough classes to give me an English degree. The course numbers just don’t match. I hope I don’t get dropped!

In other college campus news, saw this article about how colleges are 'watching troubled students.' Um...yeah...good luck with that. How do you decide whom to watch? How do you administer treatment or enforce laws? How do you even find a legal path to take? How do you avoid infringing on people's rights? The article described the activities of some students who they were 'watching.' One student was found sleeping in a car. Well. That might be me if I ever decide to go to quit my job and attend school full time.

Tuesday

...you realize it's impossible not to think about people from the past. Your brain just goes there. Ghosts. You realize even the hardest people think about people from their past whether they want to or not...

Sunday

I am all but enrolled in classes. I’ve been accepted to the University of Central Florida, and I’m immunized and approved for an orientation session. I’ve even changed my major already! Actually what I did was I declared. I changed from undeclared to creative writing. I might change to sociology though. (Or MAYBE information systems technology or teaching or health information management OR...OR...OR...)

I’ll start out this summer with just one class, I think. I don't want to strain myself. My first class, hopefully, will be a creative writing class, creative writing for English majors - it's a prerequisite for some other classes I want to take. If I can’t get in that one, I’ll take one of these terrific and fascinating sociology classes.

I earned a B.A. in '96, and I’ve gone back to school since then, and I've made false starts. I took some drafting classes around ‘98-'99, some AutoCAD. I never did anything with it. Back in 2002 I was looking into University of Maryland and George Mason - when I lived in metro DC. I even sent in a financial aid form. I never did follow through on that however.

Friday I went to the UCF campus to run an errand, and as I walked around, I felt pretty old. I'm almost twice as old as the incoming freshmen. I felt pangs of absurdity. But. Whatever. Age is just a number. It's how you feel, right? Your spirit. All ages are allowed. You can only feel humiliated if you let yourself feel humiliated, somebody once said. It's not like they all stopped what they were doing to stare and point at me and laugh. Not yet anyway. Any humiliation I would feel would be self generated.

There were other older folks there. A few. I studied them carefully. I don't know if they were faculty or staff or old-ass geezers like me re-entering college or entering for the first time or what. Some of them looked like they were trying to look or act young. Some of these oldsters looked like they were trying to dress or accessorize like the kids there. Or they arrived on scooters or or bicycles or those big-ass skateboards they ride now a days. For a second I thought, wow, now that's pretty pathetic. Man, be yourself. Wear your no-logo clothes, and wear your comfortable, affordable shoes and be old with pride. But I quickly corrected my thinking, I quashed the ridicule working up in my head. These snap judgments occur to you, you don't necessarily summon them, and you gotta ignore them. Who the hell am I to judge? I don't want people looking at me and thinking I'm ridiculous. I don't know, you know? I wanted to walk up to my fellow old dudes and talk to them. Hey, fellow old...dude! How are ya holdin up? How are your bones? Getting enough calcium? What's it like around here? Don't let these youngsters push you around!

I'm hoping I can take most of my classes online. I'll need to go on campus some - to go to the library. I'm not incredibly uncomfortable going to the campus - I don't know. I don't know how I feel about it. When I went to ODU, there seemed to be a lot of people in their thirties, forties, fifties, plus - especially in the evening classes. ODU was a commuter school. People from all over Hampton Roads went to school there - people looking to change careers or improve their skills or whatever. Back then, when I was around twenty, and I was taking classes, and I saw people in their thirties and forties and higher in my classes...I used to follow them to their cars after class and strong-arm rob their asses. Ha ha, nah, actually, the observation of their apparent age went no further than any surface observation like hair color, eye color, height, whatever. It didn't mean anything to me. Universities are supposed to be open places, right? Open to anybody who wants to learn or teach or both.

Wednesday

It’s time for a normal post because lately I’m just too dramatic and whacked out - I’m always too dramatic and whacked out - so here goes: Um...what do I do?

I work for a professional association. There is a particular type of certification out there - if you want this type of certification, you have to take our exams and go to our seminars and conferences. I ride a cubicle. I scan documents in and I approve them and index them. That’s it. I am an administrator. I push paper. I make frequent errors and apologize rarely.

It’s really slow right now, so I take frequent breaks outside. I hang out with the smokers. I used to smoke. I actually miss it. I smoked ten years and quit. I quit in 2001. I miss those breaks outside the various buildings I’ve worked in and the chatting and all the smokin buddies. I think the smokers where I work now are suspicious of me, they look at me...hanging out next to them...maybe eating an apple...or asking them questions...or just generally being a pest...refusing to court lung cancer, flipping off fate and all that. Ha. Nah. One of the smokers pointed out that each of the smokers in the organization seems to have a nonsmoking friend - a sidekick who sometimes comes outside with them to hang out and fool around and look cool or whatever.

# # # # #

Man. I wish I was back in DC.

Saturday

I was following links around in WIKIPEDIA, and I found this list of performance artists. Then I started searching the names of some these performance artists at You Tube and found quite a lot of amazingly creative stuff. The following video is a mixed-media installation called Bang-Bang Room. It is by Paul McCarthy.



Another video at You Tube by Paul McCarthy is called called WGG Test. If you watch it, you are one brave soul.

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In other news, I have been writing on scraps of paper and stuffing the paper into my pocket all week (as usual). Here's what is written on the paper:

1) I experience each design flaw

2) Sudhir Venkatesh

3) I was in a fight with my girl, and I was driving around looking for a motel. I pulled into the parking lot of a poorly lit pink motel. I swung my legs out of the car, and the first thing I saw laying there was somebody's piss bag...laying there on the pavement...an actual piss bag - a clear, plastic bag with a hose and a plug/connector thingy - laying on the asphalt. Somehow it was worse than seeing a used condom (but really, it was just as bad). It wasn't completely empty either(edit: really there's no comparison - It saddens me to imagine a handicapped person, frustrated with life and circumstances, says fuck it and yanks the damned thing out and drops it right there and speeds off - it's terrible that I've even mentioned it--sorry). Rooms at this motel cost $85. I drove on.

4) ethnography

5) CAN YOU GET FIRED JUST BECAUSE THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU DON'T LIKE YOU?

6) The way that I perceived my dad - his clothes, his after shave, his golf clubs, his cars, his shoes, the change on his dresser, his mints, his pocket comb - the way that I viewed all of that stuff as a kid...nobody will ever look at my stuff like that. Not as a son or as a daughter. Nobody will ever look at my car and think, that is the perfect car. It's daddy's. Or, that is the perfect sweater because it is my dad's. That is the ideal golf club, it belongs to my dad. Nobody will think that or say that about my stuff.

# # # # #

And in closing, I have been tapped to write a six word memoir by PoisOn CoAtEd ELiXir or Seraphic Girl

Here it is:

Long walk day dream word count.

You should write a six word memoir too!

Saturday - I had nothing to do, so I ended up here. I had been in the book store, but I became bored there. I decided to leave, but I had nowhere to go, so I decided to walk all the way around the mall. I ended up in front of this sealed off storefront. I don’t even know what store this was. I just stood there for a while. For some reason, this situation seemed to have meaning...or...anti-meaning.



I started to wonder: What difference does it make where you spend your Saturdays?


I don’t know why my brain stalled on this question. I have plenty of things I like to do on Saturdays. I could go to a park. I could roam around some more. I could go to the gym. I could start an early drinking binge. I could call somebody. But I kept asking that question: What difference does it make what I do? Really! Why does one activity have more value or meaning than standing right here in this spot? Why do I need to do anything? For some reason, at that moment, I could not answer that question. I was frozen.


Did standing in that spot make me happy? Not really. Would hiking in a park, drinking, exercising - would any of those make me happy? Maybe. I started to wonder whether it mattered if I was happy. Would my pursuit of happiness be a waste of time. Is time mine to waste? Am I an eligible judge of what is a waste of time and what is a worthwhile use of time?

Some day I’ll die, I reminded myself. That seemed relevant at the moment.


Then I thought, wow, this is kind of dumb. People are using the entrance to JC Penny nearby, and I’m taking photos of an entrance to a store that isn’t even open anymore. (I had to go get my camera and come back - to illustrate the true absurdity here). So I got back in my car and drove home. I changed clothes and went to the gym.

Wednesday

Your twenties versus thirties: A continuation of a great conversation developing in the comments window below.

One thing that did seem to change from my twenties to my thirties: I seemed to gain credibility. I'm not sure why. I honestly don’t feel any wiser. Maybe it's because I look older. Or maybe it's because I am a lot more likely to admit it when I don't know. I doubt that I am any wiser. That simply can't be it. Maybe I learned how to be more convincing. Maybe I seem more confident. Maybe I was full of you know what back then and it was obvious to any observer.

My twenties were tough: A lot more of the back breaking and teeth grinding and stress - a lot of it unnecessary. I had anxiety that felt like physical pain - like I was on fire or something.

I felt like I had to prove myself all of the time in my twenties. I felt the need to TRY to fit in everywhere. Instead of finding a situation that suited me, I tried to suit myself to the situations I encountered.

I don't know. I guess I have enjoyed my thirties more, but I have gotten a little lonely. I lost touch with a lot of the friends I had from my college days and my partying days. I don’t go out much anymore. I’m somewhat content with that, but sometimes I do get a little lonely - sometimes you just want to be rowdy with a crowd of people who know you and all that stuff. My thirties are definitely more chill.

I guess I am in my element - a lot more aware of who I am and what I want out of life. I’ve learned how to give myself a break from the demons and the neuroses and the guilt and the regret and a lot of that stuff.

I don’t know. Maybe I just off-loaded one crew of demons just so another crew of demons could climb onboard.

Saturday

There's so much happening in the world. It seems like all I can do is watch and listen from my stupid little cubicle.

Somebody asked me how old I was the other day. I told them, 37. And then I fell into this trance or intense inner session of calculation or a construction of the timeline that led from my high school graduation through my twenties and now almost through my thirties. Finally somebody snapped their fingers or something to bring me back to the conversation. Where did you go?

Yeah. Where did I go?

I've been submitting poems to journals lately. And I'm hearing back too. Rejected. But, whatever.

Hopefully something will shake loose when I start school at UCF this summer. Maybe I can get something published in the journal at UCF, The Florida Review. Maybe I'll just wander the country enrolling in classes at various schools. I'll just keep taking classes there and submitting stuff to their journal until they accept a piece. Then I'll move on to the next college, the next journal.

I'm taking a creative nonfiction class at UCF - if I can get in before the class fills up. I'd like to take some kind of writing class there - - or literature or sociology or . . . there I go . . . that's how I got here - 37 and aimless . . . being such a scatter brain.

Anyway they don't even want me to set foot on campus until I get all my shots! They had a crazy bacterial meningitis scare over there at UCF (maybe I should do the UCF online classes - from the bacteria-free safety of my home). I have to provide proof of vaccinations before they'll even let me do an orientation there.

I should just show up, and right before I walk in the registrar, I'll take a bunch of whip cream and smear it all around my face and start flailing around spazzing and shit. That shit would be funny. Great first impression.