Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Death Perception

"Time is like an old man leaning over my shoulder" - me.

I've recently amended my self taught beliefs, it's part of what makes only believing what you want even better.  I'm straddled between whether it's a healthy move or just a mind game.  Either way, it was like someone flipped a switch in my head and suddenly I was able to deal with the loss.  I lost a friend in January and it didn't have to happen.  He's just part of a faceless statistic that fell between the cracks of a wrecked healthcare system.  His name was Jimmy and he had just turned 60 years old.  Jimmy was a work buddy, which makes the basis of our friendship somewhere between a shared hatred of people who order hot tea and our matching ability to make jokes about folks in front of them without their knowledge and a shared appreciation of leftovers from patrons plates.  Plus an inappropriate amount of talk around the subject of poop and crop dusting...basically a restuarant relationship.  I didn't realize until after he was gone all the conversations that I had only with him.  He was my book conversationist and we had the same taste in reads.  You don't understand how important this is until its gone.  In the restuarant world people come and go...a lot.  I had just lost one friend that decided to go into the family business and move back closer to her parents.  Another and her husband scored a dream job and moved to St. Croix.  They were gone...just like Jimmy.  Insert change in death perception here...in my mind Jimmy's now living in Panama or maybe Costa Rica or maybe he's just walking the boardwalk in Hollywood, Fl with a tan and a huge smile.  I think when he got to wherever it is that we go for a pit stop and refuel they said "Shit man, sorry about that bum heart, our bad...got an offer for you though...think its one you're gonna really like."  I can't be sad anymore.  I miss him and our conversations the same way as I miss my other friends that have moved on.  Healthy or no?

Around this same time that I was wrapping (or twisting) my mind around this, I had a dream.   One of those that you can remember almost every detail and it felt just like living it.  We had gone out of town and boarded the dog, which in my dream was Roger not Dexter.  When the trip was over and we came back to town I couldn't remember where I'd left my dog.  I was frantic to find him.  Somehow I was at work when I figured out where he was and left without turning in my money and reports...weird stuff.  Anyhow, when I got the the place that had Roger it was after hours and I thought I would have to wait til they opened, but there was lady that let me in to him then proceeded to set up a little microphone and some type of karaoke setup.  She played some crazy tune and woke up some of the neighbors celebrating our being back together.  I remember old people in night gowns opening up doors and glaring down the hallway at the noise.  I realized I still had my work money and decided to just wait up and call the bossman first thing to explain.  When he answered the phone he said "I just heard from them that they couldn't find your pulse."  I woke up instantly with this huge feeling of "Ok-ness" and maybe peace? I don't know.  To me, I had just experienced what it would be like to die and there was nothing bad about it.  I was so excited to be back with Roger and I had no idea that I had gone to where he was not the other way around.  There was no sense of loss for what I had left, only the completeness of being where I was.  I've always believed that the larger part of our soul is sitting up there somewhere whispering into our ears trying to lend a little guidance or nudge us the way we are supposed to be headed, but I had never put it all together like this.  My larger soul is sitting up there with Velcro's larger soul and all my other cosmic litter mates. And Roger is there with my soul and she's taking care of him, and she is me so I'm still with him.  I am so, so glad that I am not restricted by the beliefs that were taught to me and that most everyone else lives with.  They are very depressing.  As I write this, we are awaiting "the phone call" about another friend whose body is struggling to hold on to his soul.  I'm going to miss him when he leaves too, but he's moving away to a place just like Jimmy's and he's going to be so excited for whatever is waiting for him, just like my dream.  

We can't change life and death but we can change our perception.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Day Before 43

The Truth in 13 Words - " Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the fuck happened"

Do you believe in old souls...In reincarnation?  What about cosmic litter mates? (a phrase I prefer over soul mates). I have no true basis or source for my beliefs and I have held them long enough to prove they are more than just rebellion against my raising.  I believe that between my last lifetime and my current that I recycled rather quickly.  I have a strange awareness and draw to the old music and cars, almost like memories.  The response I sometimes get is that my parents must have listened to it when I was young and I picked up on it.  This is not the case.  The summer before 3rd grade we moved to a new, much smaller town.  I remember early on that school year they asked us to write the radio station we listened to on a paper and then everyone got to show their paper and talk about it to the class.  I use the term class loosely as there were about 10 of us that year.  We sat with our desks in a circle facing each other.  I don't recall what the other kids had written but can almost still see my paper.  E-Z 102  It was the elevator music station of the time.  There was no 60's or 70's Rock and roll influencing my young brain. That radio station truth exposure I believe was the door opening to my ass being kicked every damn day on the playground for the remainder of that year.  It didn't help that I was a red headed buck tooth Opie look-a-like.

My current read is Keith Richards life story, which is way outside of my normal reading comfort zone. Back in 97 I saw the Stones in concert.  It was a last minute impulsive ticket buy as they announced the day before the concert they had "production seating" meaning the stage hadn't taken up as much room as they had planned.  I was in the second row of the second section.  At 24 I had no idea of what songs the Stones had made it with.  At some point I had a greatest hits cd.  As I read this book though, at mention of a title from early or mid 60's the notes and lyrics come springing from the deep dark crevasses of my mind.  It makes me wonder what else "I know" that I don't know, that I know. 

The Lost Art....
What happened to consideration?  It makes me insane to look across a restuarant and see everyone on a phone ignoring everything and everyone around them.  The young ones almost have a pass because they have had technical devices shoved up their asses since they came out of the womb.  The 70 some year old women that can't put them down or even look up to order a glass of wine are the ones that get me the most...this has been in your life for like the last 5 minutes, step out of the way, put the fucker down, order your wine and have a conversation.   

On the conversation of conversations, it seems I've fallen into a pit where no one has real conversations anymore.  It's all about whatever sport happens to be in a play off or tournament situation or politics or the weather or someone's golf game.  I'm so starved of real conversation, I'm almost to the point of eating my own brain, which everyone knows will probably taste like vodka, pork rinds and hot sauce.  

I suppose it's my looming day of birth celebration that has me contemplating quality of time and life and what we do with what we have...and such heavy shit.  My Daddy died at 62 and a half, tomorrow I will turn 43.  That would leave me 19 and a half years, subtract the last 4 that he came and went with awareness, that brings it to just over 15 years.  The fuck.  I have got to get busy. I still have redwood forests and desert formations to see.  And mountains in Peru to hike.  And islands to live on...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Politics, Religion And A Litany Of Things That Make Me Drink

"Don't give me any shit, I know just what I'm gettin' in...sure it's a sin, but I don't really give a damn.  I'm drinking again." Corey Smith

The lack of knowledge, as it applies to the use of turn lanes is overwhelming.  Although it is a full size lane set aside just for you to get into until a safe turn can be negotiated, people will stick one wheel in, blocking the through lane like they are dipping a toe in the water checking the temperature.  Completely oblivious to everything behind them.  It could be because this is a tourist town and when folks go on vacation they leave all driving skills and sense at home like they forget to pack toothpaste.  It is no exaggeration that I have seen out of towners do a u-turn from the right lane across six lanes of traffic, not including the tricky scary turn lane, after accidentally passing the Alligator Adventure.  Because ya know going to the next light and turning around is just crazy talk.  I suppose the worst part of it is that it's not even Easter and we have an entire season of horrible drivers that haven't even put up room deposits or started bathing suit shopping yet.  

At work we have a few rules, No Religion and No Politics at the bar is top of the list.  As a matter of fact the same rule pretty much applies at home as well.  All of my adult life I have aimed to escape the "real world" and unplug from society.  Compared to where I came from and from where most people are I suppose I have on some level.  But I'm talking away from everything.  Lately, we have discussed the idea of moving out of the country to somewhere Central America-ish.   Where you could live comfortably on little money.  Where Face the Nation and political ads aren't shoved up your ass 24/7.  Where 1500 cable channels are unnecessary and unheard of.  When I mention the idea to people I'm always met with the same sckepticism and comments, you know you have to worry about being kidnapped and they don't have phones and you would have to do without all the comforts.  Somehow I feel those comforts are part of what wears me out.  Shit man, tell me I don't have to do without the non-stop social media updates and pictures of what someone I went to high school with ate for fucking breakfast.  Once I spent a week on a 32' Hatteras, coming up from Key West to Miami.  Most of my time was spent on the back of the boat, straddling the deck box facing backwards watching the trolling lines, rocking to the waves lost in thought.  On one particular night we docked in Marathon and went into a bar that I now know was Sparky's (may or may not have been at the time).  Above the bar was a tv, the first I have seen all week, and they were reporting about where all Reagan's body would be on display.  I remember thinking, damn Reagan died and I didn't even know it and how nice it was to be so out of touch.  How incredibly nice would it be to have no idea about the shit show of Trump or Clinton or Bernie Sanders...to be able if the subject came up to go "Trump is running for President?? Are you fucking kidding?? Wow."  Then go back to planting your orchids or making yard art out of crap you found on the side of the road on your daily bike ride into the village. 

I have opinions on politics and candidates, and for that I feel a bit ashamed.  Ashamed that I have been exposed to enough to have formed opinions.  I really would like to be blissfully unaware.  I fear or actually know that it is all too far gone. The political scene, the justice system, medicine and insurance and doctors, social security, disability, lawyers.  It's all fucked up.  "Fuck Martha Stewart...she's polishing the brass on the Titanic.  It's all going down." A line out of my favorite movie Fight Club.  We live in a society without consequences.  But I'm the weird one for wanting to drop back and punt.  

Yesterday I took a pile of serial killer books and traded them at the used book store for a pile of Carl Hiaasen, John MacDonald, Randy Wayne White and Tim Dorsey books.  I had ran out of such reads and had resorted to the bookcase of hand me downs which lead me to 2 or 3 back to back serial killer/ cop / they get away in the end books.  I need Travis McGee in my life and crazy characters that live in the Everglades and eat road kill. So about 20 unread books made their way out of my life and were replaced by just as many quirky island books.  It made my soul happy.  Distraction from the things society is spoon feeding the masses is going to come in the form of my garage projects and good books.  Thanks CNN, but I'm busy.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Impact


"The ocean and the sky will be so blue, then we all fade away" - Micah

On this day, February 9, five years ago at 10:01 am I received a message on Facebook.  It said "I cried when your name came up.  It's been too long.  Ann". I remember the last time I saw her but I don't remember what year it was.  We met for ice cream when I had an appointment in a close by town.  She had her husband take our picture together in the parking lot.  

Ann was born April 12, 1940.  I met her when I was 14 so she would have been 47 at the time...only 4+ years older than I am now.  Funny now that I am getting closer to that age, I don't recall her seeming that young.  All through high school (atleast the part of it I made it through) she was my very best friend.  She would come pick me up and haul me around with her, or just take me to her house to eat and hang out with her and her husband.  I'm sure he was tickled to damn death to have another damn teenager hanging around after he had finally gotten his raised and out of the house. We spent hours talking on the phone.  In hind sight our friendship makes no sense at all.  I had the typical teenage angst, just waiting to blow full rebellion and she was the middle aged mother, Sunday school teacher, mother of 3 grown children that had never strayed a day in her life.  Never did I feel like I was a bother or that she was hanging around me as some form of a self perceived duty to save a wayward soul.  When I got old enough to drive I spent hours wandering the country roads in the counties around my house.  I would pull to a stop sign and choose left or right, trying to triangulate and figure where I was or would end up.  Although I couldn't find it today, her parents lived out one of those many roads I roamed.  When I would come by their house with the, "damn that's where that road comes out" epiphany, I would stop in and sit with them.  They made me feel like one of their grandkids, just like she made me feel like one of her girls.  
As an angry sixteen year old I moved out of my parents and in with some friends.  She never tried to discipline me or tell me what to do, she was always there, hug of support and I love you, though her disappointment was worn on her face.  Ann may have been one of the few people, even to this point in my life, who ever knew how to handle me.  She knew that I was/am horrible with criticism and I react poorly to being pushed.  As life goes, jobs, moves, marriages and divorces pull us in different directions and locales...for me at least.  We kept in touch, but not nearly enough.  Years would pass between phone calls.  Distance made visits non-existent. After her message five years ago we talked, though now I don't recall if it was by phone or just email.  She said she still had the pillows I gave her on her bed (gifts that I don't recall) and my picture was still on her nightstand.  She told me that she was proud of my writing, but admitted not understanding some of my snarkiness...blamed it on being an old lady.   That's something I can't imagine she ever became.  Ann died July of 2013 without me ever telling her what impact she had on my life.  Without hearing that I wouldn't have became the same person I am today without her.  I can only hope she knew how incredibly special she was.  


Monday, January 18, 2016

Proper Introductions and Explanations

"If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies."


Realize I must, all the changes that have come about since the begining of my writers block.  First and most importantly I need to properly introduce Mr. Dexter Morgan Rhew Bell.  
This is the first picture made of him...he was a tiny 6 weeks old weighing in just under 3 pounds. We had to soak his food with water because he didn't understand how to drink.  It took him probably a month before he found the condensation on my liquor glass interesting and started licking the droplets.  Oh, how I had forgotten what life was like with a puppy.  He's 1 year and 5 months old now...not that he still doesn't have crazy puppy energy, but the super challenging parts of puppy-dom i.e. Potty training and chewing are behind us now.  He actually has a very extensive vocabulary, even much more than Roger ever developed. He understands "Do you need to go poop?" And will give you an appropriate answer of either heading for the door or returning to what he was doing...this, of course, after he turns his head and looks off into the distance as if contemplating his response.  The color of his babies, whether it's because they are shaped different or if he can see color, he will bring either blue baby or red baby on request.  Giraffe is his favorite and he has certain times of day that he will bring him out to play.  Certain words, like Sugar and girlfriends and cat and camp must be spelled out in standard conversation as to avoid the Pug meltdown.  Dexter is Velcro's first dog as an adult and first inside dog ever.  I doubt he could have ever anticipated the love that comes from furry four legged kids.  
This is his mostly grown-up self.  He dresses out just under 20 pounds now...judging from his appetite lately he will be putting on a few more lbs.  

As far as the Homefront is concerned, we have relocated a few miles down the road, or up the road as the case may be.  You know my feelings when it comes to things being meant to happen...if you feel like it's a struggle or there's a lot of effort going into it, then it's probably not meant to be.  But if shit just flows and there doesn't seem to be any real decision making going on, then it's supposed to be happening.  Somehow I looked up inexpensive lots and we decided to drive by a few...no real reason.  Most of them had obvious reasons for being so cheap...like a couple of them you couldn't even park a car on, much less build a house because of the almost shear drop off of the land...and we don't even live where there are hills.  Others where in super sketchy areas that back up to woods frequented by homeless tents and what not...no thanks.  One particular lot looked absolutely perfect.  It was level and without a transient tent community next door and as a bonus, walking distance or stumbling to all kinds of cool bars and restuarants.  So we throw an arbitrary low ball offer, half expecting it would piss the folks off, only to have it accepted.  We look at each other sharing a response of "Well shit...I guess we're building a house..."  And that's how life takes on changes.  It took us about 10 minutes to pick a house plan.  I googled raised beach cottages 1500 sqft and 3 plans popped up.  Both of us pointed to the same one...house plan picked.  About 5 months later we moved in.  My minimalist side went into shock/overdrive and it took me the better part of a month to be able to actually sit down in the house.  I have scored free furniture and free all new kitchen stuff...blenders, utensils, glasses, knives and even a full set of 8 fancy plates.  The Junior Soprano plates that I paid a quarter a piece for were sent along to a better home.  Now I'm a complete homebody verging on recluse.  In the garage I have project tables and fill my time painting junk furniture from thrift shops and gluing wine corks onto shit.  Still the bathroom houses my ratty bathmats that Dexter chewed the corners of when he was a puppy...as a way of keeping my minimalist tendencies alive and well.

Sometime in the early 90's I went to a boat show at the Convention Center in Charlotte.  It was there that I climbed aboard and all around a little sailboat that cost I think about $30,000.  Begin my infatuation with the idea of something that you could live in and move around.  I don't have any specific memory of when I became enamored with the VW Bus.  I would do Internet searches of buses for sale and pour over the pictures and save them, then look up more sites and compare Junkers to full restorations...pretty much a classic example of a pipe dream.  The thoughts of coming to a point of actually being able to buy one were so far out there.  Mostly you are limited to purchasing through EBay Motors and having a car hauling company go get it and haul it clear across the country, everyone I had looked at was somewhere on the west coast, costing additional thousands of $$ and buying site unseen. You can see the concern and logistical nightmares.  I happened to find one for sale by a small antique car dealer in mid state SC.  It was a 1973 (the year I wanted) orange VWCamper, mostly restored...meaning in decent shape and with a new engine for $18,500.  Being the first and only real chance that I have had, I sent the guy an email.  I got a reply right back from him...he had sold it almost immediately, but he had a friend in Florida that had one almost exactly the same and included his number.  I left him a message to send pictures, a little info and let me know what he wanted for it.  As things go, it all fell into place and we now have Old Hippie as a family member.
When trying to come up with a name, I was having trouble deciding whether it was male of female.  Several mornings in a row I woke with song lyrics bouncing around in my head...an old Bellamy Brothers song.  It was my sign that the bus had chosen to be gender neutral and "Old Hippie" it was.  Hippie is currently in the body shop having the little bit of rust taken care of, new paint and the camper top refiberglassed.  I went by to check on Old Hippie last week to see the progress and found it ironic that my gender neutral bus now says "PAT" on the window.  We are looking a bit naked with all the hardware stripped off.

I believe that should pretty much catch up the changes the last year and half have brought about...all the major ones atleast.  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Break From The Hiatus

I feel I have things to say again, atleast judging by the amount I talk to either myself or the dog.  When Roger got sick it kicked the shit out of me.  The job, that I had been working so hard at getting off the ground...I just walked away from.  Writing, or even expressing myself much at all came to a halt.  After I lost him, I couldn't walk into my house without breaking into sobs.  I only stayed at home 2 or 3 nights in 3 months and those nights I cried myself to sleep.  To me, It was so much more than just "loosing a dog".  It took opening my heart to a little furry wad of pug to be able to go home again.  Even now that Dexter is almost a year and a half old, he hasn't come close to replacing his big brother, but he has definitely notched out his little place in our lives.  

I suppose I decided to try a few changes and it just so happened to coincide with the new year...let's not call them Resolutions because that will be cause of their demise.  I am going to write again.  And this will likely be the place that my random thoughts and photos surface, as opposed to social media, where we look to others for acknowledgment and support and a sense of self worth via likes.  I recently purged my "friends" list.  In doing this I found one friend had died... almost 3 years ago...and I had no idea.  The worst part, I suppose, is that this is what we equate to having friends.  How very little do we actually interact with people?  You know that crazy idea of hanging out and actually talking instead of hitting a little thumbs up icon and feeling like we are involved.  Don't get me wrong, at one point this girl and I had been rather close.  But time and distance and moves and job changes had pulled us apart.  That part is called life.  I will be the first to admit that I have few people that dabble past the line of acquaintences and I'm ok with that too.  When it comes to conversations, I prefer to get out of the shallow end of the pool.  My lack of ability or care of small talk limits my friends...be it a character flaw or whatever, I don't mind it.  
The second thing on my list of self improvements is to not beat myself up quite so much.  To say I'm a little tough on myself is a dramatic understatement.  I have never been a competitive person at all, always having hated when someone wants to push me to compete and try to win against me.  I fucking hate it.  I've been known to tee off on a putt-putt course like Tiger Woods, knocking the ball three holes over to throw a game because someone was taunting to win.  Could be called a poor sport, I couldn't care less.  When it comes down to it, I am in an extreme competition with myself.  I have fleeting moments of being proud of my accomplishments only to catch a glimpse in a full length mirror and start picking apart flaws.  My attempt is going to try being a little more accepting and forgiving of myself.  In all honesty, I think I will have better luck with the writing.  

Today, the day that most grown-ups and people I know went back to the grind.  First day back at it after the Xmas / New Years vacation hiatus.  I started the day with the gym, then the used bookstore to exchange for a few new Carl Hiaasen and John McDonald paperbacks.  Came home...showered...read 5 chapters of a new book...colored in my coloring book...made some lunch...worked on gluing wine corks to a styrofoam ball to replicate an idea from Pinterest while the dog played in the garage...and I started writing again.  No emails to catch up...no conference calls...no new looming deadlines. It's the benefit of being a bartender and having worked through the holidays.  Seems like a pretty decent trade off to me.  Now I'm off to a dog walk with this guy....and possibly a nap.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Chicken Wing Debacle

It was the winter of 2007-2008. It was a ridiculiously cold winter, but a warm day.  We were living in the tiny apartment that backed up to Battleground Park in Greensboro.  It was a ground floor one bedroom on the backside of the building.  By we, I mean me, Roger and Carletta cat.  There was just enough space for the three of us and my little belongings, check that, there was enough space once I removed the foot board from my bed so that I could open the drawers to my dresser that sat facing it at the end of the bed.  It just took me major brain searching and staring into space to recall the name of the park and I'm still not a 100% sure about it.  I have an uncanny ability to completely block, forget or misfile entire years of my life at time.   Not sure whether that's a good or bad thing.  Anyhow...that day I decided to cook me some wings in the oven.  In case you don't know, that shit takes like 2 hours or something.  With my immediate gratification needs this combination can lead to much frustration.  I was already starving by the time the process started so smelling wings for hours and turning them over and over a 100 times and staring through the oven door at them...you can see where I was with this.  My porch/balcony over looked a small grassy area then the woods.  There I had a sheperds hook with a birdfeeder on it.  I could see it from my big chair in the livingroom and it made me happy.  Earlier that day me and Roger spent quality time in the yard filling it with bird seed.

FINALLY the damn wings were done and I grabbed my plate full and piled up into my chair.  I no sooner get started eating when I look up to see a big fat squirrel in my feeder with his cheeks stuffed full.  "Oh FUCK NO!"  Drop my wing plate to the ottoman run out onto the balcony, do some livid hungry girl acrobatics leaning waist deep over the top of the rail and down to the ground to grab a handful of rocks and start slinging them like a crazy person and cussing at this rat in a cute suit eating my bird seed.  I finally bing one off the feeder and he flees.  When I turn back around I see Roger gulping down the next to the last wing from my plate.  OH MY GOD!!  I don't remember exactly what I said but I'm sure it involved his full name of Roger Goddammit.  About a split second later I realize my dog just ingested a whole pile of chicken bones and then proceed to freaking out status.  Luckily he never chewed a single piece of food in his life so I knew they were all in there whole so there should be no worry of splinters or bone shards stabbing in his belly.  I decided to watch him and see if anything looked amiss instead of rushing him to very expensive vet visit.  Before the apartment I had never been privy to doggie waste bags and the picking up of poop.  As often I could encourage it we walked into the woods and away from places that ones poop may take up an undesired residence in the tread of a bitchy neighbors shoe and also where the poo bags weren't necessary.  That night no poo.  Next morning, next afternoon...no poo.  I was starting to be concerned because if there's one thing I know, it's the poo patterns of my furry offspring.  That night I take him into the woods and do a mexican stand off with his butt...literally.  I think he knew something was up and was putting it off as long as possible. When he finallly realized I was in for the long haul  he sniffed and circled and squatted.  And stayed squatted.  Then turns to me with this "Oh Shit MOM" look in his eye.  I can still see his face now.  He started doing these funny little squat pumps...straighten the knees....bend the knees...straighten the knees bend the knees.  As luck would have it we were in a rather dark section of woods away from the intrusion of street lights and it was well before the days of the smart phone and flashlight apps so I have no solid proof that he pooped whole chicken drummettes.  But he never was quite so quick to steal food from my plate...he honed his skill of sit and stare you into food sharing submission after that.