12.31.2003

an open letter to a stranger

now playing: mary chapin-carpenter, "what you didn't say"


the internet, and blogging specifically, has transformed me into an oxymoron...the benevolent stalker.

i write about my own life, but i also read about others here - their successes and failures, their trials and tribulations, their dashed expectations and their dreams. to be certain, i usually spend more time reading than writing - i am but one, after all, and you are so many.

this, after all, is how i found out about the recent passing of your father, right before christmas.

i initially thought about sending you a passage from john steinbeck's tortilla flat that i have a vivid memory of finding comfort from...but then i reminded myself that i don't really know you, save for a few phrases entered into comments windows here and there, and i thought better of it...it would've been an awkward email, at best....

the age of the internet has both brought humanity closer together, and pushed us further apart at the same time. if not for the 'net, i wouldn't know who you are to begin with...but the nature of the beast also has made us all instant freaks or weirdoes if we cross too eagerly into territory that isn't normally traversed. we're instantly suspicious of those who go out of their way to offer more than basic cordiality.

so i kept my mouth shut.

but, as time passed, and i read more of what you were willing to share about your relationship with your father, and about your brother (whom you'd suspected for some time to have been blood)...and about how he handled the transition from his marriage to his subsequent relationship with your stepmother, parts of your story struck a chord with me.

i'll tell you why...not because i want to compare my path with your fathers', or for any reason, really...save to perhaps shed some light on why i found your story moving.

i'd been married to the mother of my children for seven years when we finally split up. to this day, i couldn't tell you why we married in the first place - i didn't really foresee anything better coming my way, perhaps...maybe i thought that something more akin to what i really wanted wasn't realistic? either way, i knew the day of our wedding that it was to be temporary, somehow. i know this because i remember thinking, when i woke up to the rain that morning, that the next time i wouldn't have an outdoor wedding because it was too risky. i remember that thought very vividly.

at any rate, a bland beginning gave way to a mediocre existence, and as i doggedly pursued a career in music, our differences and the huge gap in our expectations became glaringly obvious, but although we fought constantly and seldom agreed on anything, we stayed put. we had two children rather quickly, and leaving never really presented itself as an option for me. i wasn't a runner, i reasoned, and i wasn't about to desert my children, whom i loved deeply. if anyone was gonna go, i figured, it'd be her.

when i think about my life at the time, it's pretty plain to me why circumstances made it easy to stay. i was constantly on the road - i was playing twenty nights a month most of the year, and held a series of day jobs during that time as well. why move out if i was never home? for a couple living under duress, you really couldn't ask for a better arrangement. she stayed home with the children while i went out and earned a living, and i seldom saw her, so the opportunities for our differences to arise didn't present themselves as often as they would, had i been the traditional nine-to-fiver.

as with all relationships, there becomes a moment when it becomes obvious beyond any denial that you can offer up that things are really pretty much finished. i came home from the supermarket and unloaded the van, and walked up the front porch steps with my arms draped with the tight plastic handles of the grocery bags - easily six or seven to each forearm - and couldn't open the screen door. it was locked so the children couldn't get out of the living room and escape her perimeter of supervision (she was in the kitchen, washing dishes). i gently kicked the bottom of the door (knock, knock) and asked her to come let me in.

"it's open, come on in", she said.

"no, it's not..." i replied. "if it was, i wouldn't have bothered you. can you come open it?" i asked again.

"it's open, i told you," she repeated, and the same exchange happened several times until i finally put the groceries down on the porch and ripped the locked screen door off its hinges and threw it onto the porch. i was furious. afterward, though, looking back on my behavior, i knew that this wasn't me at all, and that if this was the kind of person that i was becoming, then perhaps i really should think about moving on. but i lacked the courage of my convictions.

i had taken on a day job, driving a forklift for a printing company - it was grunt work, and that's exactly what i wanted at the time. i was gigging my ass off, and working on my first record, and i just knew it was temporary...something to pull in some extra cash until the record was done, and i could start taking on more of the kind of work that i couldn't really get until i had a legitimate record. but that's where i met christina.

to quote campbell scott's character in singles, "if i had a personal conversation with God, i would ask him to create this woman." that's how i felt. she was everything that i had wanted my partner to be, and then some...where my wife was judgemental and belittling, chris was supportive and encouraging. she knew the words to every song i wrote, she believed in me more than i did, and she was exactly what i needed.

she was also ultimately the motivation i needed to leave a bad situation behind.

it's always easy for people outside a situation to pick out the "bad guy" and to label someone as being at fault when a relationship fails. in a situation like this, we're primed to single out the "other woman" as being the evil element and to castigate her for her role in the events as they unfold. but every situation is different, and every party has a side to the story, and in some cases, there really is no bad guy, just a bad situation, and bad situations breed bad decisions sometimes. in my case, i had already started to plot my escape long before i ever thought there was a snowflakes' proverbial chance that there could've been a future that involved "chris and tom", but there was a chris and tom before i'd made the leap and gotten out of the house...so as far as the general public was concerned, chris and tom were to blame for the fact that there was no more tom and jill.

this particular plot twist makes it easy to ignore the fact that there was never much of a tom and jill to begin with.

chris and tom, though, ultimately fell through as well - not even a year later. but although my heart was broken and i couldn't understand or come to terms with why there should be no chris and tom, i never once regretted that there was no more tom and jill.

and i came to accept and believe in the concept of everything happening for a reason.

when i left their mom, jayda was freshly seven years old and dylan had just turned five (they were born exactly two years and eleven hours apart, incidentally), and didn't really understand what was going on, except that daddy lived somewhere else now. i took a third floor apartment in the city that i loved - we still talk about it, in fact - and i resolved to remain close to them. i could've easily taken this as an opportunity to load the van and go wherever i wanted - boston, nashville, new york city, austin, san francisco - certainly, i thought about that all the time. but i couldn't. it just wasn't in me.

because i knew that if i left, i'd never come back. and while i certainly wouldn't mourn the change, the distance would have taken too much of a toll.

the silver lining, for me, came in the months and years that came to pass after jill and after chris - when it was me and my children. we had opportunities that we wouldn't have had in any other situation but for how the cards ultimately fell - just the three of us. we went to new york city together, we did "mallwork" (which was our invention - we'd take their homework from school and go do it at a table in the food court and have dinner and watch the ever-evolving cavalcade of berks countians waddle toward the escalator) together, we'd make "daddy soup" for dinner (campbells' creamy chicken mushroom soup and bowtie pasta or elbow macaroni, whichever was on sale), we took any number of trips that we'd never have taken, had we been the traditional family unit, and we learned to rely on each other and function as a family...just the three of us. and i have a relationship with my children now that i know, in my heart of hearts, i'd never have had were i allowed to continue to chase money around while their mother raised them without me.

the time that i spend with my children now is ours - no one can take that away from us. even as they grow older and start down the trepidatious path that is teenagerdom, we remain close. i keep waiting for the shoe to drop and for the generation gap to rear its ugly head, and i know it shall in due time. my daughter has always been an old soul, and is growing up a lot faster than i'd personally like for her to, but that's beyond the realm of my control. my son is ever the goofball, and has his own social circle that requires his attention. and i know that they'll grow up and older and that my role in their lives will diminish over time, but i will be eternally grateful to chris for showing me that there was something in life better than what i had, even if it turned out to be something other than what i'd hoped for at the time. i think that if it hadn't been for her, i'd still be under the same roof as their mother, eternally deadlocked in an emotional standoff that would've had awful repercussions for my children.

staying together for the kids is bullshit, i found. my children have managed to thrive as a result of our separation, and they have a safe place under my roof where they can go when they need shelter from the other side. i'd never have been able to offer that to them if i was still there, still part of the problem and not the solution.

i honestly don't know why i'm telling you this, save for the fact that reading your reflections about your father have given me cause to do some reflecting of my own - and learning what i've learned about your father this past week or so has given me cause to relate to him, on a personal level. when i read what you wrote about your feelings about him, about what he taught you, and what you learned from his example, it's obvious to me that you already know the one thing i could've said to you about your father that i feel as though i know - the man who showed up in court was your father alright, but it wasn't your father...in the same sense that it was me who ripped the screen door off the front of my house, but that's not that person who raises my children.

i get the sense that you've got unresolved anger as a result of some of your history with your father, and i know this to be the case with my children as well...they've told me about it on a few occasions. but it seems to be more as a result of ill-advised choices i've made that have affected their lives than about the fact that their mother and i aren't husband and wife. God knows, i've done some stupid shit in my day, and i deserve to bear the burden of accountability for it. i've done what i can to try to amend for as much as i can, but i don't think any of us, as parents, ever succeed completely on that level. i'll always begrudge my mother, for instance, the fact that i never had braces as a child, even though i understand as completely as it's possible to understand why i didn't - we simply couldn't afford it. i know and understand this, but something in my psyche will always lay that at her feet...because, after all, who else do you hold responsible for something like that? i know she didn't have the money. i know this. but my anger at the result of not having braces as a child and the subsequent result is directed at her nonetheless. illogical? you bet. but that's how it's evolved.

and so it will be with me, as time goes by - as a parent, i've failed at times. but i keep dusting myself off and getting back up, because winning the war is sufficiently important to dictate that i survive the battles that i've lost, i think.

and someday, nic, like your father, i'll be gone. it may be thirty years from now, but it could be later tonight, for all anyone knows. my children will have to go forth from whatever day that is and find their own path.

it's my hope that, when that day comes, that i've left them with a semblance of the foundation that you were fortunate enough to have in your father. should any of us have the gift of awareness of this plane of existence after we pass on, i feel safe in assuming that he's immensely proud of you...as i am of my own.

the words that you wrote for his eulogy warmed my heart...and i hope that despite what may happen in the aftermath of your fathers' passing, that you'll continue to take shelter and comfort in your family, in your siblings.

i don't know you from adam....but you're in my prayers.






12.30.2003

the eve of new years eve

now playing: marty higgins, "california"


yawn.


i, for one, am actually relieved that stone road isn't playing this new year's eve, as originally planned - i'm looking forward to the downtime. i have a couple (well, more than a couple, actually) of things that are clamoring for my attention at home, and am looking forward to dealing with it all over the next few days. i'll miss the cash that would've come with the gig, to be certain, but i've already lined up a couple of 'computer gigs' to atone for the loss of income (one of which could be rather lucrative, looking forward to hearing all about that one, should the opportunity present itself).

my kids have been at my house since christmas day, and i've been absolutely loving having them around for a stretch like this.

i could absolutely be accused of bringing dylan into the world for my own entertainment, and wouldn't have a leg to stand on to defend myself. he's the clown prince of my family, hands down. i have a couple of dylan stories to relate, with hopes that you'll forgive my lack of disciplinary demeanor...after all, it's hard to condemn someone's actions when you're hyperventilating as a result.


*****dinner table, chestnut street west reading: dylan hands me the crust from his pizza, and announces he's full. he continues to hang with jayda and i as we exchange small talk for a few minutes, after which point he grabs a clementine from the bowl on the dinner table and gets up to leave.

i stop him and ask of him, "hey....i thought you were full?"

he looks over his shoulder at me, flashes the patented Dylan Grin, raises his eyebrow Belushi-style, and says....

"....fulla shit."

*****wyomissing family restaurant, wyomissing: dylan, jayda and i sit down for lunch and order. in timely fashion for a busy day, the food comes out with steam rising from the plates. dylan's western omelet with cheese (which he ordered by singing the word "cheee-eee-ee-sse") was the hottest of the lot, and the waitress cautioned him - "be careful, that plate is really hot."

dylan replies, "yeah, just like me."

a story from a few days before:

dylan and wendy are watching "the blues brothers" (a christmas present for young dylan, on DVD) and the scene in which elwood picks jake up at the pen is on. elwood utters the famous line to jake, "i wasn't lyin', man...i was just bullshittin' ya."

dylan looks at wendy and utters, "see? he knows the difference!"

we went for a walk last night to retrieve rocks for a school project that dylan has to complete before he returns from vacation, and ended up stopping for chinese food at our new favorite place on penn avenue in west reading - seems like we've done nothing but eat out the last few nights, but tonight i think i'm cooking in. not sure yet what i'm makin', but i'll think of something.

it's gonna be almost too noticeable when they go back to mom's to ride out their vacation from school.





12.28.2003

my little town, pt. 2

now playing: detroit lions 30, st louis rams 20



more great news for this wonderful city where i live.

i've often walked into queen city and made a mental note of the security guard posted at the entrance, strolling gingerly up and down the aisle - i guess the next step is to have the guy give everyone the wand as they walk into the place.

might have to put on bowling for columbine before bed tonight and start re-evaluating my move elsewhere again...


on a totally unrelated subject, henceforth from this day forward, all anonymous comments will be deleted. if you wanna stop in and be an asshole, go right ahead...but identify yourself or you'll be whacked.

whether i have a strong hunch of who you are or not.




football at the chaos house

now playing: john gorka, "january floor"


'nother fifteen minutes and it'll be 4 in the morning.

usually, cause for me being up this late would be a gig somewhere in the nether regions of the planet and maybe decided to head for queen city diner afterward, but tonight it's because i waited until the kids were either in bed or headed that way and came to work.

i think i let the holidays impart some serious laziness on my ass, here. and tonight is do or die, catchup night for yours truly. i have two machines that have to be finished before tomorrow, and so i'm making sure they're both up to snuff right now, before tomorrow gets here.

so we can kiss off sleeping in either day this weekend...ah, well.

the money's been accepted, the checks have been deposited, and now the work must be done.

it's not a huge deal, really...it's just my complacency kickin' my ass again. but i'm gonna make up for it in the days and weeks to come.

today has been declared "clean in" day in my house. this means that everyone who wishes to continue to live there conflict-free is going to join me in squaring the house away. that means unnecessary shit needs to find a place somewhere in the house that isn't obtrusive.

"clean in" day has been a long time coming. and it's overdue.

i did get to take jayda shopping today, and i hooked up her phone in her room for her. a certain individual had agreed to do that for her months (years?) ago, and it never happened. odd that this particular individual was always willing to ask for and accept my generosity without hesitation but could never get around to taking the half hour it would take to hook that up and stop over and do it...

he shall remain unnamed, however. there's enough bad blood on that circuit right now as it is. besides, he still has a ton of my stuff that he's never returned, and i hold out just a faint glimmer of hope that i may someday have at least some of it back.

anyway, "clean in" day, for me, will probably consist of trying to eke out room for another fifty pounds of shit in our ten pound basement, and filing away a ton of stuff that's compiled on my desk over the last year or so...in addition to helping the kids box stuff up and get it ready to take that long trip down the basement stairs or the walkway in the back yard...

sports...the eagles and the patriots both won today - the pats clinched a first round bye, and the road to the super bowl, for the AFC, goes through foxboro now. in the NFC, it will likely go through st. louis, since st. louis plays the hapless detroit lions tomorrow. at this point, it's pretty easy for me to forget that the lions beat up on the packers reeeeall nice on thanksgiving day...but hell, that was a long time ago.

i think it'll be a rematch of the 2001 super bowl (minus, unfortunately, the goosebump-inducing halftime show courtesy of u2), with the same result as that historic super bowl - a heavily favored st. louis team gettin' their asses spanked by brady and co.

you heard it here first.

ok, hard drive image has finished, and the defragmenter on the other machine is halfway done...i should go.

see you in front of the screen tomorrow.






12.26.2003

yuletide hangover

now playing: gin blossoms, "hold me down"

it's all over but the shopping trip.

dylan, jayda and company are going shopping on saturday with their christmas booty - it's on its way to becoming an annual event...as they've gotten older, they've gravitated away from gifts somewhat to wanting money to go buy themselves their own gifts.

i'd have a hard time faulting them for that, considering that i usually buy my own present and put everyones' name on it myself...i figure that way, i'll be happy with what i get and no one has to sweat it. it's the most stress-free method i'm aware of, to be sure. last birthday, they got me a '56 reissue gold top les paul. wasn't that nice of them?

wendy did get me the new john gorka album, called "old futures gone". i listened to it yesterday while doing dishes, which is certainly not the best atmosphere in which to listen to a record you've never heard before, and i think it might've suffered as a result, in terms of my perception. on first listen, the record has something of a "sameness" to it...it sounds as if the whole record was recorded in one sitting, with the same band, playing the same instruments, with their equipment set up the same way. not that this has to be a bad thing - i can certainly think of some albums where that could be said, but to great effect (john hiatt's "bring the family" album is an excellent example)...this one, though, at first blush, isn't one of them. of course, i may listen to it again and totally rescind everything i'm saying here...and i hope that's the case, but i didn't hear any songs on this album that echoed the quality of his prior work (up to and including his last album, which had some great songs on it..."oh abraham" and "morningside" and "when you walk in", among others)

i dunno...i'll get back to you.

mitch came over for christmas, and we made the Magic Ham for dinner...afterwards we all watched movies until 2 in the morning. mitch and i were the last men standing, dylan coming in a somewhat distant second, having fallen asleep in the middle of "the two towers" at around 1 in the morning. he was coming to, somewhat, when i left for work this morning - he moaned a weak "...bye" as i was putting on my coat to walk out.

there's something innately peaceful about sitting in a room with a group like ours last night and watching tv...enjoying each others' company. especially after a great meal and some homemade apple pie.

to echo ice cube, "it was a good day."








12.24.2003

comments

now playing: eastmountainsouth, "too soon"


hey, guys...

first of all, merry christmas - it's upon us and bearing down fast. hope you all manage to find some kindness to hang onto during the holiday. i think it's easier for some than others...this year will surely be no different in that respect.

secondly, the comments here seem to be only partly functional right now - the proper authorities have been notified, but i don't really know when to expect them back (what with it being christmas and all), so you may want to stop by the forum and drop me a note in the meantime, if you wish...as soon as i hear from haloscan, i'll post a followup. this should not be determined as a form of censorship.

:)


talk to you soon....





12.23.2003

hooooo, boy....

now playing: joseph parsons, "can't keep her gone"


from the "civilians go to jail for shit like this" department:


gotta hand it to those republicans, man...the ink isn't even dry on McCain-Feingold yet, and those crafty bastards are already coming up with shit like this.



my hat's off, man. seriously.


(if this pisses you off, stop by democracy21.org and read all about it...)




but....but....but....

now playing: eddie money, "trinidad"



there was a post that I'd made some time back regarding the occupation of iraq that someone had commented on...for those who don't drill down through the comments, i'll reprint here for your convienence:

x (x@x.net) wrote the following:

you sadi:
"think about it - if you were sitting at your
kitchen table, minding your own business, and a
horde of camoflauge-clad rifle toters came
stompin' in and proceeded to tell you how you were
going to conduct yourself from that point
forward...now, let's just say that you're not the
timid type, and you decide that you're not gonna
go along - would you consider yourself an
"insurgent"? if, after your entire world as you
knew it were being rearranged for you, and you
took a couple of shots at the people responsible,
would you consider yourself the aggressor, or
would you consider the aforementioned camoflauged
individual the aggressor?"


Moot point. If up to Michael Moore types, we won't
have firearms to take shots back at them. But you
know this.

---------------------------------------------------


well, i did post a retort, but i also want to pass this along, reprinted from an interview with mr. moore himself:


interviewer:
May I just review, Michael, here are gun deaths in a year. We hear this all the time, but it just -- Germany, 381, France, 255 -- this is one year. Canada, 165 deaths, United Kingdom, 68, Australia, 65, Japan, 39. The United States of America, 11,127.

I mean, what will shame us? Yet you're saying that this is not, as you would say, not a gun control movie. Is that so?

MOORE:
Right. Because honestly, I don't think, ultimately, getting rid of the guns will be the answer. I think if we got rid of all our guns in the U.S., we would still have the psyche problem -- the problem that says we have a right to resolve our disputes through violence. That's what separates us from these other countries.


personally, i'm still not sure what michael moore or gun control has to do with invading a country based on a pretext of lies, but anyway....



"what did they know...and when did they know it...."

now playing: dan fogelberg and tim weissberg, "hurtwood alley"


since i operate on the assumption that not everyone who visits my site bothers to click on all the links over to the right, i'm reprinting this for your perusal:



9/11 Chair: Attack Was Preventable


NEW YORK, Dec. 17, 2003

(CBS) For the first time, the chairman of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is saying publicly that 9/11 could have and should have been prevented by the Bush Administration, reports CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.

"This is a very, very important part of history and we've got to tell it right," said Thomas Kean.

"As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done," he said. "This was not something that had to happen."

Appointed by the Bush administration, Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, is now pointing fingers inside the administration and laying blame.

To find out who failed and why, the commission has navigated a political landmine, threatening a subpoena to gain access to the president's top-secret daily briefs. Those documents may shed light on one of the most controversial assertions of the Bush administration - that there was never any thought given to the idea that terrorists might fly an airplane into a building.

"I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile," said national security adviser Condoleeza Rice on May 16, 2002.

"How is it possible we have a national security advisor coming out and saying we had no idea they could use planes as weapons when we had FBI records from 1991 stating that this is a possibility," said Kristen Breitweiser, one of four New Jersey widows who lobbied Congress and the president to appoint the commission.

The widows want to know why various government agencies didn't connect the dots before Sept. 11, such as warnings from FBI offices in Minnesota and Arizona about suspicious student pilots.

"If you were to tell me that two years after the murder of my husband that we wouldn't have one question answered, I wouldn't believe it," Breitweiser said.

Kean admits the commission also has more questions than answers.

Asked whether we should at least know if people sitting in the decision-making spots on that critical day are still in those positions, Kean said, "Yes, the answer is yes. And we will."





12.22.2003

reading

now playing: matt sevier, "the hills above wilshire"


last night, a little past midnight - after watching the broncos upend the colts and being subjected to the whinefest that is peyton manning not getting his way, i was standing on penn avenue, waiting for the tow truck to come and retrieve my ailing van from the parking space we'd managed to glide it into at the point it decided it had had enough late saturday night.

i live in west reading, pennsylvania...across the schuylkill river from reading, a city i have decidedly mixed feelings about. i've lived there before, lived there for a big chunk of the six years that have elapsed since my first marriage dissolved. not long after i moved into my first apartment there, i bought a bicycle and used to take a lot of joy in riding around reading late at night, when the city was largely quiet. for a city with such an urban persona, reading was largely subdued in the wee hours when you'd expect to see the symptoms of unrest. there were the occasional clusters of ominous-looking characters here and there, but usually nothing more menacing than that.

granted, my van and my apartment were broken into, and someday i'll tell that story in its entirety here...but for the most part, i never experienced any serious hostility during the time i lived there.

reading is a city that seems to be falling down around itself with a whimper.

those in position to create the illusion of trying to salvage the city are doing just that - creating an illusion. the new civic center project spent a lot of the city's money and hasn't made much back, and most of the projects of that nature seem to have been conceived to put money into people's pockets, as opposed to contributing to the community. the community itself is largely apathetic about its fate, almost resigned to it in ways. reading has a huge welfare roll, and exacts a serious tax toll on anyone foolhardy enough to invest in property there.

as was pointed out in an alternet article that i posted here before, reading is on track to become the first latino majority city in pennsylvania, with numbers that already total forty percent of the total population. many of the people who decry reading's apparent fate cite this as the reason. i think that's bullshit. an easy answer, an easy target, but a smokescreen.

during the depression era and the period after, reading was a town of collected neighborhoods - the polish section of town, the italian section of town, and so forth. at that time, it was all understood and accepted that this was the way it was. the "wops" lived here and the "pollocks" lived there and that was the reality of it. so maybe it's not entirely surprising that the separatism that existed then has endured and manifested itself into a general mistrust of the latino community. not entirely surprising, maybe...but sad, nonetheless.

what's happened in reading is happening in cities across the nation - fear is driving affluence from the cities and leaving dilapidated buildings and demoralizing fates in its wake. someone on NPR referred to it recently as 'white flight'...i'd never heard that term before, and it's chillingly fitting.

west reading, where i ended up after looking for a house big enough to hold my stuff (at that particular point in time), is a few and a million miles away from reading. as i stood there on the sidewalk last night, it was so quiet that i could hear the sound of the television from one of the upstairs apartments across the street from where i stood. i'm not sure what reminded me of it, but i thought back to my later teenage years at home in savannah, tennessee, and how quiet it used to be there when i'd go for walks through town.

the truck came eventually, and we strapped the van to the back and he made his way off into the distance, and i began the short walk home...


...it was so quiet you could hear the buzz of the traffic lights.





12.21.2003

drama

now playing: sarah shannon, "i'll run away"

so we're headin' down the christmas stretch...just a few days to go.

still a number of things that haven't shown up yet...gotta love this drama that ya interject into the whole christmas trip by buying literally everything online...i should probably count on gettin' bit in the ass on at least one or two counts. anybody's guess which counts that i'll end up gettin' it on.

drama. yay drama.

speaking of drama, my new VW van seems to be doomed to be a problem child...it's on its way back to the garage for the second time thus far this month...i think that, should i ever take the time to learn how to work on volkswagens, i'll be damn near completely independent of reliance on pretty much anything or anyone. i'm still a slave to my mechanic, no matter what other skills i manage to accumulate.

well, there is still much to do this day...i'm sure there'll be one of my typical long-winded posts down the road, once i've accomplished what i need to to put this day into perspective.





12.20.2003

still not fully awake....

now playing: chiefs-vikings

(i don't think anyone expected this game to go the way it has....)


my buddy mitch is on his way here...he's coming with me to The Forgotten Stone Road Show. i'm starvin', though...might have to grab a sandwich on the way or something...

after not going to sleep at all thursday, i feel as though i wasted the whole day today by sleeping in a lot longer than i probably would have otherwise. still a little groggy, but i'll get over that shortly.

out the door now....


12.19.2003

why plan, again?

now playing: pure prairie league, "boulder skies"


leave it to me to fill up my evening schedule with computer deliveries, repair stops, etc - and have one nagging little glitch screw the whole thing up. of course, in todays' scenario, it's a whole series of nagging little glitches...it's just been that kind of day.

l came in to work in the middle of the night last night - and stayed here until around 6:20 this morning. left to go get my kids ready for school and drop them off at the bus, then went home to shower and get ready to come back in....got back here at around 8:30 or so, and haven't left the building since.

but i'm gonna be doin' that right about now...i originally planned on delivering a PC that i'd built for a customer tonight, but i'm not ready for that trek just now. maybe tomorrow before the gig. i need to get back in here tomorrow anyway.

boy, am i ever gonna sleep well tonight.

stone road gig tomorrow night...the one that i originally wasn't gonna play. now, i'm actually kinda looking forward to it.

mitch, old buddy....you game?





stop - hey, what's that sound?

now playing: aunt pat, "satellite"


hear that scraping sound?

well, maybe not scraping...more of a rubbing sound, kinda...

yeah, more like rubbing. but not just rubbing...kinda almost like a sliding, rubbing sound.



that's the sound of my ass dragging across the floor.

get used to it - we'll be hearing it all day.

it's 6:10am, and i'm still at work.

came back in after blake left last night, been here ever since.

gonna go home and shower, get the kids up for school, take jayda to early basketball practice, go pick dylan up and bring him up to the bus stop, and come back in.

because i have too much shit to do.

i had 43 hours in on thursday when i left for lunch.


i'll celebrate the unusually large paycheck by adding to the kids' christmas lists. i always have more ideas than money...maybe not this year, though.




12.18.2003

my little town

now playing: poco, "restrain"





this is where i live. i'm so proud.





flattered

now playing: dire straits, "tunnel of love"


every now and then, i fail to consider how lucky i am.

thankfully, the universe doesn't often allow me to continue down that road for long.


was at work last night until after 8:30pm, and had two stops to make before i went home - had to stop off and drop some cash off for my daughter, and then over to keith amos' shop to pick up my two finished dobros...one is a wood bodied squareneck for traditional bluegrass-style playing, and the other is a national-style metal-bodied roundneck model. he tuned up the resonators in both of them and installed pickups for me. i was initially a little agitated with his choice of location for the output jacks, but i never specified where i wanted them, so that was my bad - but i got over it the minute i heard them both plugged in. wow.

unreal.

as an added bonus, i got to play keiths' les paul through his paul rivera-modified fender bandmaster amp for a while - perhaps i shouldn't even use the word "play"...this guitar plays itself. it really is an amazing instrument. you bend a note and hold it and the guitar just sings....

so i reached for my checkbook, and he told me to put it away - and asked if we could work out a trade...i couldn't initially think of anything that i had that he'd want. but he said he'd waive his installation and tuneup fees for the dobros if i'd commit to six hours of lessons. he wanted me to sit down with him and show him how i do some of the things i do, and work on phrasing and technique a bit as well.

now i've had people ask me to teach them to play before, either from scratch or after having managed to throw together a few chords, but this guy is an accomplished player - he's been playing longer than i have, and i was floored when he brought this up. my first reaction was, "what could i possibly show this guy?"

but i am quite flattered - i've gone through a humbling process, playing with our new guitar player in stone road - not inasmuch as i have a huge ego, but i think i'd become accustomed to having all the complex stuff fall on my shoulders in the band...and having someone around who brings donnie's chops to the table has shaken me loose, to be certain. i'd gotten lazy, and having donnie there to fire back and forth - well, it woke me up. so maybe this opportunity to work with keith is the next step in wiping the complacency out of my eyes and getting on with my proverbial day.

i think the other thing that factored into my reaction was a story that i heard from roger mcguinn once...he was talking about the byrds' first trip to the UK, and about the night they played london and the beatles were in attendance. there was a great deal of pressure surrounding this trip, what with being billed as america's answer to the beatles - and it apparently showed in their performance, as far as roger was concerned. he thought they sucked that night.

anyway, after the show, john lennon apparently came up to roger and told him how much he enjoyed the show, and roger shot back, "really? i thought we kinda stunk." and john kinda shrunk after that remark, and was pretty distant for the rest of the night.

for me, the lesson to be taken away from that would be not to impart your own judgement onto anyone else...which is what i'm trying to take with me into the keith situation. there must be something that i do that he appreciates and respects - and if i can convey that to him, i'm only too happy to do so.

it's a difficult thing for me, allowing myself to be grateful for my talents, because it involves acknowledging them, and my upbringing frowned upon this, having branded it as vanity. for me, even saying the words "i'm a talented musician" out loud sounds arrogant, even though it is obviously true and has been acknowledged time and again. i have to personify the doubting thomas, though, because i've yet to figure out what it is that validates my talents. eventually, i have to make peace with it, though.

i've been the eternal roger mcguinn up to this point in my life.






12.17.2003

there's a shadow on the faces....

now playing: talk talk, "it's my life"

(not the lame no doubt version)




tell me something.


how can this not piss you off?




what you won't hear on fox news...

now playing: chris whitley, "indian summer"


***************************************
reprinted from the TORONTO STAR:
***************************************


Baffling week for Bush watchers: How to alienate your friends, at home and abroad

Puzzling actions leave even neo-con backers wondering


TIM HARPER


Here's how you make friends in George W. Bush's world.

You bar countries from sharing in some $18.6 billion (U.S.) in Iraqi reconstruction contracts, then later the same day, you pick up the phone and ask the leaders of those very countries to be nice to your personal envoy, James Baker, when he comes calling this week asking you to forgive the money Iraq owes you.

Here's how you welcome your northern neighbour's new prime minister.

You let your official spokesperson say how much you look forward to working with Paul Martin, then you make sure Canada is similarly shut out of reconstruction contracts, ignoring the financial help from Ottawa and the deaths of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan fighting your war on terrorism.

Here's how you keep Europe guessing.

You send your defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to meet with the counterparts he once dismissed as "old Europe" and have him extend an olive branch, leading to widespread speculation that the U.S.-Europe rift is on the mend.

Then, you yank on the stitches by poking fun at German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's suggestion that your reconstruction policy could violate international law by glibly saying, as Bush did Friday: "International law? I better call my lawyer; he didn't bring that up to me."

And here's how to alienate your neo-con base.

You make a major speech on the quest for democracy in the Middle East, calling it your Number 1 priority and saying your work must be continued by successive presidents for decades to come.

Then, a couple of weeks later, when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao comes calling, you make him happy by telling Taiwan it cannot hold a democratic referendum.

Put it all together and your list of detractors includes United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan; governments in France, Germany, Russia and Canada; commentators on the left and right; and your own party's senior congressional leadership.

Even factoring in Bush's go-it-alone, with-us-or-against-us style, last week's developments caused no end of puzzlement.

"It simply looks like the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing," says Doug Bandow, a senior analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute.

"This is the most bizarre juxtaposition of events I've ever seen. It frankly makes the administration look stupid."

The White House was said to be miffed that the Iraqi reconstruction memo by Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was released on the eve of Baker's mission, but it signed off on the memo and Bush vigorously defended the policy a day later, saying those countries that risk their soldiers' lives deserve exclusive access to the reconstruction spoils.

His statement ignored the fact that more than half of the 63 Pentagon-approved countries did not have troops on the ground in Iraq.

Baker leaves tomorrow for five days of high-stakes diplomacy, meeting face-to-face with French President Jacques Chirac, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Schroeder.

He also will meet with two staunch allies of Washington: Britain's Tony Blair and Italy's Silvio Berlusconi.

Iraq owes an estimated $125 billion (U.S.), much of it due to France, Russia and Germany.

Putin has already signalled that he will point to the Iraqi reconstruction policy, thank Baker for his visit, then send him on his way with no debt forgiveness.

The Bush administration also drew fire for what some saw as a thinly veiled blackmail attempt, suggesting countries that forgive Iraqi debts could be put on the list of those approved for bidding on the 26 contracts. And the White House used some highly inflammatory language, suggesting that countries not part of the coalition had to be barred from contracts for reasons of U.S. security.

"This excludes countries like Canada, a leading contributor to peacekeeping operations, prominent champion of human rights and one of the world's most generous aid donors," wrote Gayle Smith of the Centre for American Progress, a liberal think-tank.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
`Instead of being smart, clever or magnanimous, the Bush administration has done a dumb thing'

William Kristol and Robert Kagan, neo-con analysts


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


"Does the Bush administration truly believe that the `essential security interests of the United States' would be harmed if a Canadian company rebuilt the road from Baghdad to Tikrit?"

Finally, Bush had to put out a fire at home after a Pentagon investigation found that a subsidiary of the Halliburton Company, once headed by Vice-President Dick Cheney, had overcharged the government by as much as $61 million for fuel delivery to Iraq, a contract it was awarded without competition.

Bush tried to move quickly to douse the perception that the policy was now shielding a politically connected company.

"If anybody is overcharging the government, we expect them to repay that money," he said.

Bill Frist, the Republican leader in the Senate, was the highest-profile member of Bush's party to distance himself from the reconstruction policy and his comments stunned many observers.

"We have to remember that many of these countries that are being denied these contracts are supporting us elsewhere in the world, maybe fighting HIV-AIDS in Africa, maybe in Afghanistan," Frist said on CNBC.

"That's why I hope that there will be some moderation of this policy as we go forward."

Some of the toughest criticism came from the Project for the New American Century, a neo-conservative think-tank which sprang from an informal group that included Wolfowitz, author of the controversial Pentagon reconstruction memo, and Richard Perle, former assistant defence secretary.

"President Bush, we suspect, is going to overrule the Pentagon's attempt to exclude from the bidding for Iraq reconstruction contracts certain countries that have opposed U.S. policy in Iraq," wrote think-tank analysts William Kristol and Robert Kagan.

"He might as well do it sooner rather than later, so as to minimize the diplomatic damage done by the Pentagon's heavy-handed and counterproductive action."

They said a more clever administration would have had an open bidding process and then, if only companies from supportive countries received contracts, the message would have been delivered, albeit subtly.

"Instead of being smart, clever or magnanimous, the Bush administration has done a dumb thing," Kristol and Kagan wrote.

All of this overshadowed a major shift on China earlier in the week, one that was hailed as a major victory in China but a sell-out to a dictator by commentators at home.

Faced with the democratic aspirations to independence of Taiwan's Chen Shui-bian and the bellicose threats of Wen, Bush sided with the latter.

This angered not only the pro-Taiwan members of Congress but also a portion of the political spectrum that had acted as Bush's main cheerleader when he turned his Iraqi mission into a self-styled campaign for democracy and freedom.

"I see some very profound changes," said John Tkacik of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, "especially when the president of the United States (earlier) proclaimed that the global expansion of democracy was a pillar of American foreign policy.

"Then, he gets up and basically says the president of Taiwan, by unilaterally taking these moves toward a referendum, was provocative."

Madeline Albright, secretary of state under Bill Clinton, told an audience in Washington last week that Bush's dedication to democracy is superficial and viewed through one prism only.

"President Bush bangs the freedom drum loudly but generally rates other leaders by where they stand on Iraq, not on their policies towards their own people," she said.

All this combined to paint a picture of an administration in disarray, riven by internal conflicts and taken aback by world reaction yet again.

That should be no surprise, says analyst Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies.

"Neo-cons are driven by beliefs and their actions are driven by neo-con principles.

"When you are driven by ideology, you are always taken aback by the reaction of real people living in the real world."

************************************************

this is great! now even his own loyalists are second guessing him!

i just felt my internal mood meter creep up a couple of notches....





take one, rolling...

now playing: dolly varden, "i come to you"

(this is a great record, by the way...you should check them out.)

so this morning, at around 2:20am, i declared the studio officially "done".

i still have some room for expansion, which i'll need, and i actually had a few cables left over once everything was patched together. after i hit the power for everything and made sure that everything powered up, and that all the lights lit and that nothing was missed, i just kinda sat there for a couple of minutes and took it all in...felt good.

nice to actually have a sense of accomplishment where something is concerned...work right now is essentially an endless stream of half-finished long-term projects that are constantly interrupted by short-term emergencies. nothing ever seems to be completely finished, something's always hanging in limbo...

...i hate it when it seems like i'm not getting anything done.

i did, however, give my "comments" feature a facelift yesterday - needed some instant gratification.

during the course of the studio rennovations, i unearthed a huge stack of old notebooks, legal pads, and folders containing snippets of song lyrics and ideas that were in a drawer for i-don't-even-know-how-long. being of the easily-derailed persuasion, i sat down and read through them for fifteen or twenty minutes and found a couple of zingers in there.

it's funny, but when i write (wrote?), i never really gave a great deal of thought to how my words would read at any point down the line...but it was pretty apparent, last night as i read my own words from some years back, just how much of a "time capsule" i managed to create, in terms of documenting where i was when i wrote some of those words.

i found a lot of drafts of songs, as well...i found the original draft of "brand new distance" (the leadoff track from "our mutual angels") that contained this later-omitted verse:

we all have to sacrifice
but it's a lonely price we've paid
cutting our dreams down to size
to fit into this life we've made


that sentiment, in and of itself, kinda perpetuated another entire song that ended up on the record, but the verse was cut for brevitys' sake, as opposed to any thought that was given to repetition of content.

blake went home with a big, steaming pile of old demos and recordings the last time he was over, and we were talking about some of them yesterday...some of the stuff that todd and i did in the living room on belvedere avenue and some tapes from room and gig recordings from ten years ago, if not more...god only knows what the hell was in there.

i do think, though, that after i get a chance to test everything tonight and make sure that all the miles of cable that i ran over the last couple of weeks is intact and functional, i'm going to master some of that stuff into digital form. i do want to keep some of it, even if it is essentially meaningless to the rest of the world.

among things to do today: call charlie and find out what's going on with him...haven't heard a peep from him in a month or so. also need to find out if this jodi project is gonna get off the ground or not.






12.15.2003

frankenstein

now playing: marshall tucker band, "runnin' like the wind"


*****************************************************
reprinted here with the gracious permission of michael moore:
*****************************************************


Sunday, December 14th, 2003

We Finally Got Our Frankenstein... and He Was In a Spider Hole! -- by Michael Moore


Thank God Saddam is finally back in American hands! He must have really missed us. Man, he sure looked bad! But, at least he got a free dental exam today. That's something most Americans can't get.



America used to like Saddam. We LOVED Saddam. We funded him. We armed him. We helped him gas Iranian troops.



But then he screwed up. He invaded the dictatorship of Kuwait and, in doing so, did the worst thing imaginable -- he threatened an even BETTER friend of ours: the dictatorship of Saudi Arabia, and its vast oil reserves. The Bushes and the Saudi royal family were and are close business partners, and Saddam, back in 1990, committed a royal blunder by getting a little too close to their wealthy holdings. Things went downhill for Saddam from there.



But it wasn't always that way. Saddam was our good friend and ally. We supported his regime. It wasn’t the first time we had helped a murderer. We liked playing Dr. Frankenstein. We created a lot of monsters -- the Shah of Iran, Somoza of Nicaragua, Pinochet of Chile -- and then we expressed ignorance or shock when they ran amok and massacred people. We liked Saddam because he was willing to fight the Ayatollah. So we made sure that he got billions of dollars to purchase weapons. Weapons of mass destruction. That's right, he had them. We should know -- we gave them to him!



We allowed and encouraged American corporations to do business with Saddam in the 1980s. That's how he got chemical and biological agents so he could use them in chemical and biological weapons. Here's the list of some of the stuff we sent him (according to a 1994 U.S. Senate report):

* Bacillus Anthracis, cause of anthrax.

* Clostridium Botulinum, a source of botulinum toxin.

* Histoplasma Capsulatam, cause of a disease attacking lungs, brain, spinal cord, and heart.

* Brucella Melitensis, a bacteria that can damage major organs.

* Clostridium Perfringens, a highly toxic bacteria causing systemic illness.

* Clostridium tetani, a highly toxigenic substance.



And here are some of the American corporations who helped to prop Saddam up by doing business with him: AT&T, Bechtel, Caterpillar, Dow Chemical, Dupont, Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM (for a full list of companies and descriptions of how they helped Saddam, click here.



We were so cozy with dear old Saddam that we decided to feed him satellite images so he could locate where the Iranian troops were. We pretty much knew how he would use the information, and sure enough, as soon as we sent him the spy photos, he gassed those troops. And we kept quiet. Because he was our friend, and the Iranians were the "enemy." A year after he first gassed the Iranians, we reestablished full diplomatic relations with him!



Later he gassed his own people, the Kurds. You would think that would force us to disassociate ourselves from him. Congress tried to impose economic sanctions on Saddam, but the Reagan White House quickly rejected that idea -- they wouldn’t let anything derail their good buddy Saddam. We had a virtual love fest with this Frankenstein whom we (in part) created.



And, just like the mythical Frankenstein, Saddam eventually spun out of control. He would no longer do what he was told by his master. Saddam had to be caught. And now that he has been brought back from the wilderness, perhaps he will have something to say about his creators. Maybe we can learn something... interesting. Maybe Don Rumsfeld could smile and shake Saddam's hand again. Just like he did when he went to see him in 1983 (click here to see the photo).



Maybe we never would have been in the situation we're in if Rumsfeld, Bush, Sr., and company hadn't been so excited back in the 80s about their friendly monster in the desert.



Meanwhile, anybody know where the guy is who killed 3,000 people on 9/11? Our other Frankenstein?? Maybe he's in a mouse hole.



So many of our little monsters, so little time before the next election.



Stay strong, Democratic candidates. Quit sounding like a bunch of wusses. These bastards sent us to war on a lie, the killing will not stop, the Arab world hates us with a passion, and we will pay for this out of our pockets for years to come. Nothing that happened today (or in the past 9 months) has made us ONE BIT safer in our post-9/11 world. Saddam was never a threat to our national security.



Only our desire to play Dr. Frankenstein dooms us all.



Yours,



Michael Moore




you knew this was coming, right?

now playing: kathleen edwards, "lone wolf"



"....they sell us the president, the same way they sell us our clothes and our cars
they sell us everything from youth to religion the same time they sell us our wars
i want to know who the men in the shadows are
i want to hear somebody asking them why
they can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
but they're never the ones to fight or to die...."

jackson browne, "lives in the balance"



what with everyone else being largely unable to talk about much else the past 24 hours, i'd almost rather say absolutely nothing about yesterday's events...

...but we all know better than that.

perhaps the most in-my-face indication of the extent to which we as a nation have bought into the lies we've been sold was the means by which i got the news yesterday.

i came downstairs to find my daughter and her sleepover guest, april, sitting on the sofa, watching tv. april chimed in first.

"hey, they caught haddam."

jayda rolled her eyes and corrected her, and april relented.

"saddam, haddam, whatever. whoever the guy was that bombed the twin towers."

now, it should be pointed out that april does not ride the small bus to school, and she isn't being raised by wolves, but she had absolutely no clue. later yesterday evening, we all sat down and watched bowling for columbine together...i sat on the sofa with jayda and dylan, both of whom were watching the movie intensely, but i was watching april on and off, and didn't see too much going on there...maybe she thought it was fiction, maybe she just wasn't really interested - either way, i don't think it hit a nerve.

but she was mighty stoked that they caught haddam.

i just hope that we don't get too caught up in celebrating - because this is far from over.

anyone whos' capable of adding two and two has to know, by virtue of how they found him, that he wasn't at the helm of the insurgency.

the insurgency in iraq is borne out of human nature.

think about it - if you were sitting at your kitchen table, minding your own business, and a horde of camoflauge-clad rifle toters came stompin' in and proceeded to tell you how you were going to conduct yourself from that point forward...now, let's just say that you're not the timid type, and you decide that you're not gonna go along - would you consider yourself an "insurgent"? if, after your entire world as you knew it were being rearranged for you, and you took a couple of shots at the people responsible, would you consider yourself the aggressor, or would you consider the aforementioned camoflauged individual the aggressor?

more americans will die in iraq, convinced as they draw their last breath that they're doing the right thing.


you heard it here first.


you may now return to watching trista and ryan's wedding.


********************************

a good friend of mine wrote me over the weekend, and said:

"When am I going to see you persecute Democrats in your journals who are equally if not more guilty of same shit you accuse Republicans?"

now, nik has been affiliated with the libertarian party for as long as i've known him, and i've always admired that (among many other things) about him. nik is as passionate about his politics as i am, and i dig that.

i can also see where one would assume that i empathize with the "dems", based on a lot of what i've written here - but the truth is, i have a pretty serious laundry list of gripes where they're concerned as well...the biggest being (of late) that the entire party seems obsessed with what i call "chameleonism". everyone is bustin' their balls trying to appear as republican as they possibly can.

who does this benefit, exactly?

in my mind, this is a problem that can be traced back to dubya's fathers' presidential campaign - during which he singlehandedly turned the word "liberal" into a swearword, to be whispered in corners and never said aloud. actually, i don't know who is more to blame - bush sr. for doing thus, or dukakis for actually acting ashamed of being liberal and denying it for the entire early part of his campaign. now, years later, somehow being "liberal" translates to "unelectable".

of course, this is all the "liberal media's fault."

do you remember who you first heard that phrase from? i do.

rush limbaugh.

now, who better to champion the fight against a liberal bias in the media than a right-wing talk show host who's heard every fucking day on over 600 radio stations?

now, stop and ask yourself - since the demise of the most recent outing by phil donahue, how many mainstream liberal news outlets can you name?

it's cool. i'll wait.

still thinking?

come back and start reading again when you give up.....



that's what i thought.

now, you can easily flip on the TV and see bill o'reilly or sean hannity (bonus link) or ann coulter or michael savage...

where are all the purveyors of this so-called "liberal media"?

i sure as hell don't know. it's all i can do to find a streaming radio station that carries anything even remotely left-leaning.

but i bet you hear someone, somewhere, decrying all the woes of the nation as being the fault of the "liberal media" every time you turn around, simply because janeane garofalo or mike farrell happen to show up on fox news for a nice lashing about the buttocks by whichever hothead happens to be on at a given time.



i think that this is, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, a confusing time to be an american.

that is, for those with the sense to be confused. as for the rest of Beavis Nation....


uuuuuuhhhhhhh.....relax, dude.




12.14.2003

the iceman cometh

now playing: ESPN: saints-giants


"....i get a little warm in my heart, when i think of winter...." tori amos

weekends seem to melt away, anymore.

stone road played friday night to a good crowd at a biker bar situated in a strip mall on the way out of town - we could've had more people, but too many more and it woulda been a pain in the ass to move around in the place.

crowning moment of the night was the beginning of the third set, when someone played a song on the jukebox that was on the setlist, and coming into the second chorus, we all began playing the song right where the jukebox left off.

the place went nuts - i thought it'd be cute, but i didn't think it was anywhere near that impressive...i'll take it, though.

both the company christmas party and darryl's annual christmas party were the same night, and - what with it being me and all - i figured we'd do both. why not be in two places at the same time, huh? ultimately, i think that if i had it to do over, i'd reverse the two - i woulda went to darryl's first and the work party last. but, hey - hindsight is always twenty-twenty, right?

it's been drizzling and snowing off and on all night - i was actually planning on going to work today, but the day took my motivation away, so tomorrow will be a long one...depending on what the traffic situation is. school has already posted a two hour delay for tomorrow, so that compllicates things somewhat...in terms of planning the commute.

psyching myself up for monday is hard enough, as it is.



12.12.2003

where's the kleenex....

now playing: U2, "the unforgettable fire"


i know i've posted stuff from this particular corner of the web before, and really - you'd be doing your sarcastic side a huge favor if you just stopped by everyday without my prodding, but since you may not necessarily be in the habit yet, i submit this for your approval.

don't click until you've finished your drink...i had a small amount of dr. pepper come out my nose.



ER frequent customer card

now playing: train, "i wish you would"

two "kid nights", two sick kids, replete with ER visits, the works.

tuesday night, jayda came out with hand taped up, having apparently bent it backwards in basketball practice, so we went to have it x-rayed and splinted...she got a huge kick out of the fact that it was her middle finger and that she had to "throw the bird" at the x-ray machine. in fact, since i knew the doctor who was on duty (he's a musician as well - bass player), i was gonna ask for a xerox of her x-ray for her, but it was focused in tight enough on her middle finger that you couldn't really tell how she held her hand...

before we were finished, though, the shift changed and another doctor took over the ward - who was a guitar player and collector as well, i found out. since there was no pain involved, it was kinda funny...we were talking about what we had, what we played, what kind of amps we liked, so on and so forth...and jayda holds up her hand at us with this "what am i supposed to do with this?" look...much later, of course, it occured to me that i should've made a smart-assed comment along the lines of "looks like a good time for you to take up slide guitar..."

which turned out to be true...she has a large aluminum splint on her middle finger now.

so that was a post-midnight bedtime...then wednesday, i stayed up until almost 4 in the morning installing the wiring harnesses for the studio, and then last night i left work (late) and went to pick up the kids (late) and dylan is near death...we finished what errands we had and i took him home and let him sit for a bit at home - he was complaining a lot about his throat, and the fact that he was having a really hard time breathing. the skin on his body felt normal, but his head, face, neck and chest were on fire...even after we got him home to bed, he was a mess...i got up at 3:30 or so to go to the bathroom, and he was awake, sitting upright on the sofa in the living room, unchanged for the most part. i had made him take a hot shower when we got home at the end of the night to possibly ease whatever irritation he had in his throat that was giving him problems with his breathing, but it hadn't had any effect.

i got up at around 5:30 to shower and he wasn't on the sofa anymore, but when i came back upstairs, he was sitting upright in his bed.

so he called his grandmother and i took him there this morning after dropping jayda off for basketball practice.

did i actually make some precocious comment a while back about changing my ways, where staying up all night every night of the week was concerned?

there at least has been some reason behind the events of the week, and some productivity as well...so i can't be completely bitter about it at this point.

it's been interesting, this week, to see people's reactions to the mandate issued by the pentagon regarding shutting out the countries who opposed the war, where the rebuilding contracts are concerned...i have multiple thoughts on this.

first of all, if i'm chirac, i think my position would be simply this: i don't want your money or your business, but since iraq belongs to you now, pay off the loans we floated them - their debt is your debt now. secondly, if i'm a soldier stationed in iraq right now, it becomes even clearer to me what the motives were behind sending me there to risk my life at this point..."hmmm...we haven't found any WMD...87 billion dollars...haliburton....i think something may be rotten in baghdad..."

speaking of haliburton, how 'bout that overcharging the pentagon to the tune of almost double the going rate for gasoline imported into iraq, huh?

and how 'bout this for spin in action? from CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Pentagon audit has raised questions about whether a subsidiary of Halliburton -- an oil services company once run by Vice President Dick Cheney -- overcharged the U.S. government $61 million for gasoline imported from Kuwait to Iraq.

The Pentagon said Thursday a routine review turned up the potential overcharge by subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root, which was awarded a no-bid contract in March to rebuild Iraq's oil industry.

But there is no allegation that Halliburton unduly profited from the overpriced gas.

(end quote from CNN)

now riddle me this, batman: just how do you overcharge someone that much and not "unduly profit"?

i also heard a rumor recently that there are those who are considering replacing franklin d. roosevelts' image on the dime with that of ronald reagan.

ok, cover your ears.....

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

well, fuck it, then. why not put nixon's picture on the dollar bill, then? then we can put dubya's mug on the quarter, gerald ford's picture on the penny - it makes sense, in a way...the presidents who have been bought and paid for can have their likenesses on the very money used to buy them! it makes perfect sense, no? i can hear the pitch now...

"think of the new currency as a means by which to honor those who honored the dollar above all else...above integrity, above responsibility, above all."

"return with us to the days of yesteryear...the days of defamation of character of prominent opposition party members, the days of paying criminals to break into democratic headquarters and lying to cover it up, of erasing secret white house tapes, of selling arms to the middle east and diverting the profits to rebel forces in central america, the days of lying to the american people to drum up support for a meaningless, but very profitable, war...do you remember? well, we do!"

i'm tellin' ya, man...if canada bordered us to the south, it'd be a no-brainer...as it stands, it's lookin' pretty sweet anyway.

chances that stone road will play "long time gone" at their show tonight: near 100%





12.11.2003

if i'm tired, then it must be thursday...

now playing: david crosby, "laughing" (from his first solo album, with joni mitchell helping out on that amazing harmony section at the end)


i'm pooped. in a couple of ways - from a fatigue standpoint, and from a standpoint that i probably shouldn't delve into too deeply...note to self: avoid the hot food counter across the street for the foreseeable future. not a good idea.

stayed up until almost 4 am this morning, getting the studio patched...it's half done - hope to finish by this weekend.

ugggnnngnnggghhh. need to lay down.





12.10.2003

obvious, but welcome nonetheless...

now playing: roxy music, "avalon"


yay. just read this on CNN:

OSLO, Norway -- This year's Nobel Peace Prize winner says the September 11 attacks have been used as an excuse to violate international law and human rights.

Iran's Shirin Ebadi, the first Muslim woman to win the prize, did not mention the U.S. by name but was clearly referring to Washington and its allies in a speech prepared for delivery at the official award ceremony in Oslo, Norway.

Ebadi, recognized for her fight for children's and women's rights in Iran, collected a gold medal and the $1.4 million award from the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee at Oslo City Hall.

The 56-year-old lawyer said Wednesday: "In the past two years, some states have violated the universal principles and laws of human rights by using the events of September 11 and the war on international terrorism as a pretext.

"Regulations restricting human rights and basic freedoms ... have been justified and given legitimacy under the cloak of the war on terrorism," she said.

Ebadi also slammed Washington for ignoring U.N. resolutions in the Middle East while using them as a pretext for launching a war in Iraq.

"Why is it that in the past 35 years, dozens of U.N. resolutions concerning the occupation of the Palestinian territories by the state of Israel have not been implemented properly?" she asked.

"Yet, in the past 12 years, the state and people of Iraq, once on the recommendation of the Security Council, and the second time in spite of U.N. Security Council opposition, were subjected to attack, military assault, economic sanctions, and ultimately, military occupation?"


U.S. President George W. Bush's administration launched the Iraq war in March saying President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. But the war did not have explicit backing from the Security Council.

The Nobel laureate also criticized what she called breaches of the Geneva conventions at the United States' Guantanamo military prison in Cuba.



i know one of my more politically leaning friends to the right over there have probably already posted this story, but for those of you who read but never click, i wanted to include it here as well.

reprinted without even a thought towards permission.





cat salad

now playing: counting crows, "round here"


ok, first of all, i have to share this with you. this was good for a good, solid, 45 seconds of extra strength howling when i saw it yesterday. ross is trying to be humble about it (he didn't take the pic, he told me), but you can't under-emphasize the delivery...

i went through a cat-loathing period when i lived with samantha during which this might not have necessarily been the end result, had i had the four ingredients mentioned in his post....

in ross's comments, someone mentioned something about "cat salad"...you get the point.

this day has just completely gotten away from me - the woman i work with has shown up for a total of three days of a possible eight workdays so far this month. in a three person IT department, you can imagine the effect that has when one is essentially in a managerial position.

it ain't been much fun.

and, what with this being the case - i gotta go, man.


until i return, ponder this - a majority of people responding to a current CNN poll do not think that the current charges of sexual harrasment against The Governator should be investigated.

hmmm....maybe if it was their ass that he was fondling, they'd feel differently.

and it should perhaps go without saying that an unofficial canvassing of those same respondents would likely reflect a consensus that the King of Pop should be slowly rotating on a spit over an open fire right now....








12.09.2003

moron-a-bonics

now playing: willy porter, "infinity" (on repeat in winamp...it's that kind of day)


whenever i log onto blogger to update my journal, i usually scan the list of recently published blogs and open any whose titles sound intriguing to see what's out there. i've found some great reads that way, and i've found some completely unintelligible crap that way, as well. unfortunately, the latter is the rule and not the exception.

i've lamented in the past how so many of the other blogs out there are rambling, pointless diatribes about crushes or exams or cliques or who's "in" or "out" on a given day (or afternoon, even). now, don't get me wrong - i was fifteen once, and i completely understand and empathize with how huge these issues are when you've had limited time to experience other things in life...and i know in my heart of hearts that somewhere out there in cyberspace, there's an absolutely brilliant teenager who's writing about these things in a way that's absolutely captivating...and i will find that individual someday.

unfortunately, in the meantime, i find myself reading shit like this:

************************

me scared scared....irst time seeing u so mad leh....sry leh....At Jeanyip, you showed e stylist e 'V' hairstyle which u wan...lolx....e person so bo skills...cut my hair till so short and ugly! Sobx Sobx....

************************

THIS IS AN ACTUAL, "CUT AND PASTE" QUOTE. I AM NOT MAKING THIS SHIT UP.

as time passes of late, i become more and more convinced that the tendency of internet users to allow their language use to deteriorate is going to destroy any semblance of actual communication skills that The Beavis Nation has left.

now, i can LOL and LMAO with the best of them, IMHO. but seriously....that's not really supposed to be in english, is it?

i'd publish the link to this TeenDweeb's page, but i'm still a little embarrased that i ended up there in the first place...

ok, rant over. we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

---------------------------

i'm learning a pretty serious lesson of late regarding the ability to make decisions. in a couple of areas, actually. one of them being during the process of finally redesigning and publishing tomhampton.com to the web - i'm finding that i have plenty of ideas when a client has a general blueprint of what they want, and that i'm fine when working within those parameters, but in this case, the sky's the limit...i can do whatever i want...and i'm finding that i'm coming up short on ideas, and that what i have done so far hasn't exactly gotten my blood pressure up...the current design is ok, but i don't think it'll be the last re-write. this could go on indefinitely.

i also need to make some decisions about how i prioritize my time - i just don't seem to have enough of it. i know, i know...this is nothing new. no big revelations here... but it's becoming a problem. the eternal battle between what i want to do and what i need to do in order to move forward in life is stirring up some dust in my head...and i'm going to have to make some cuts at some point soon, and i know it's not gonna involve scaling back my business, so this one is gonna require some thought...there's a lot that i want to take on, too, down the road, and i can't go on forever getting four hours of sleep a night every night of the week and then pissing away the weekend, catching up on the sleep i've lost. talk about a waste of time...

speaking of wasting time, i have three huge projects that have nothing to do with my website or personal life hanging over my head here...must focus...





12.08.2003

'tis the season to overextend....

now playing: willy porter, "infinity"

so i caved in.

wendy and i will be at least making an appearance at the RAM Christmas party.

even though my somewhat annual Xmas parody article was nixed by the good folks in HR for being a little too crude...oh, well. guilty as charged.

i feel vindicated in the fact that they were all laughing to the point of tears when they read it.

mission accomplished.

i feel a little like Lenny Bruce in my own little microcosm of reality today.

lots of short little bursts of thought today...perhaps i'll have something cohesive to say later - hard to say.






12.06.2003

the show must go on....

now playing: army-navy game

got a call from barry earlier - the show is definitely happening tonight.

i hope no one gets hurt.

also, in the "i hope no one gets hurt" department, my buddy mitch is driving out tonight, and i'm keepin' my fingers crossed for him, too.

stayed up last night until 5am working in the studio...started on it first thing this afternoon when i got up, as well. was livid to discover that the insert snake i bought isn't an insert snake at all, so that's holdin' me up until i get the right one. fired off a seriously pissy email to the guy i bought it from...maybe he'll be a nice guy and make some sort of gesture to make this right, but i'm thinking that i'm just screwed....we'll see.



12.05.2003

snow, wind, and high speed office chairs

now playing: ellis paul with patty griffin, "conversation with a ghost"


so it's finally started snowing here.

miss jayda was not happy when i woke her up this morning with the news that not a flake had yet fallen yet this morning. i don't think the fact that it started before we all left was much consolation...she was hoping for at least a delay, i think.

and right on cue, the song "january rain" from david gray takes its turn on my winamp jukebox. hmmmm. snow.

(if you saw the movie serendipity, you understand the relationship between that particular song and snow)

wendy is mighty worked up this week about her beloved red sox first signing curt schilling and then naming terry francona as manager. this morning, she gave me her red sox hat to wear to work in place of my usual nondescript, logo-less model.

(of course, anyone watching this situation knew that it was a given that francona was getting the gig if schilling signed...i'm thinking it might've even been a condition...)

this wretched late autumn nostalgia bent is really kickin' my ass lately...i think that the typical bout that comes on at this time of year, combined with the process of writing the book, has likely made this relapse a little more acute than most.

last night, i dreamed that my mother lived in the house on belvedere avenue that jill and i lived in when we were married. i was on my way there, and i was late...in the dream, i was late for school. i needed to catch the bus. i was coming home from a trip (i think i was on my way home from a gig, but that part is a little fuzzy) and i was coming up route 10 past the convienence store just down from the intersection, but i wasn't walking or driving, i was rolling myself up the road in the very chair that i'm sitting in right now. rolling up the street in a high-backed office chair, at a speed that reality wouldn't support. i mean, i was haulin' ass. so, i roll up (literally) in front of the house, and my mom is standing on the porch, smoking a cigarette, waiting for me. jayda and dylan were on the porch, too, dressed for school and ready to go. my mom didn't ask me where i'd been, but she asked me if i was going to take a shower before the bus came, and i nodded and ran up the stairs and started looking for a towel, but i couldn't find one.

that's the last thing i remember.

now, ya gotta wonder...where the hell did that come from?

i'm a little bewildered by the fact that i haven't remembered any of my dreams much past getting dressed in the morning for a while...not sure what makes this weird-assed installment special...

my buddy jay put a smile on my face this morning when he sent me an email that closed with the lines:

"gonna be putting a WHOLE BUNCH OF SHIT
on blog..

you encouraged.
now ya gotta pay, man."

i've known jay since 1984 - we were stationed in iceland together. i still remember the day i met him...we knew we were getting a new guy on our watch team, but he hadn't arrived yet. before he reported for duty, though, he actually stopped by my room and introduced himself, which i thought was a classy move. he and i became fast friends.

that time of my life was both incredibly turbulent and extremely creative...alternating moments of strife and bliss, intertwined - there was a very strange relationship that i was in with someone i had no business being with, which ended with her being relieved of duty in iceland and shipped stateside to the psychiatric unit at walter reed hospital. jay was a rock, though - he and i used to go sit on this hillside at the edge of the base that overlooked keflavik, at the edge of the water. it was always windy there, and you could sit there, with the wind blowing through your hair, and look out over the city and the water - and no matter what was occupying the spaces in your head, that spot seemed to breed a sense of peace for me.

my favorite song of all time is half moon silver by a seventies band called hotel (they made two records for mca and disappeared without any serious success on the charts, but they played them on the radio where i lived). i've loved that song for as long as i can remember, and there's a verse in that song that always reminds me of jay and i, standing on that bluff in iceland:

late one night, when wind is fair
to recreate the time we share
high upon that northern shore
we shall meet, forevermore...


a sidenote regarding the band Hotel: about six months ago, i decided i was gonna try and figure out "whatever happened to...", and i started googling my ass off trying to find out what happened to them. i found two of them - marc phillips, the primary songwriter, is running a recording studio and doing jingles, and quite happy with his life. the guitarist, tommy calton, is living in florida (i found marc first and he put me in touch with tommy) and playing in bands there. tommy actually transcribed the entire guitar part for "half moon silver" and sent it to me so i could learn to play it. he called me not long after to see how i was progressing, and if i had any questions about the tablature.

i'd tried to figure this one out a couple of times, with no success, and now, the guy who wrote the part was offering to help me learn it.

god bless the internet.







12.04.2003

the defense rests

now playing: schoolhouse rock, "figure eight"


after posting moby's link to the usa today article that you can find a few posts down, i mentioned that i didn't have any friends who were republicans, and - as fate would have it - i was wrong.

late in my high school years, i had a mad crush on melody - who was dating a bass player that i knew and tolerated because he was really the only game in town, where bass players were concerned, and also because he was dating melody. she and i became good friends...really good friends. the kind of friends who (it was the age, ya know....your teenagers will do it too) would be on the phone for hours and there'd be these long periods of silence sometimes where no one was necessarily saying anything - just keeping that connection open, ya know?

well, of course i had hoped that after the inevitable end of her relationship with our mutual effeminate friend that something might spark between us, but it never did...and at the time, i was dejected and bitter about it - but i'd already started formulating my plan for getting away from my hometown by then, anyway. so, i ran away and joined the navy, and she married a marine and went in the opposite direction, and that was that, essentially. she had sent me a letter while i was in iceland, and i can't remember if i answered it or not, but that was the end of it, until she managed to track me down on the internet not long ago. we re-established ties, and now we talk on a sporadic basis.

anyway, she found her way to my blog yesterday, and wrote me to tell me that she found my thoughts on iraq and bush "upsetting", but followed that with something of a disclaimer about her policy of avoidance where discussing politics is concerned. but i felt compelled to respond, nonetheless...not because i wanted to make my views her views, but because i wanted to explain why i felt the way i did. here's a piece of the letter:


"Hey, there....

the thing that i try to keep in mind when i'm discussing politics with people is that their political views are one part of the puzzle that makes up the whole person - i've had discussions with people who were unable to keep that in mind who get completely bent out of shape about whatever the subject might be at a given time. i'm pretty passionate about how i feel about certain things, but i haven't lost any friends over my views yet.

i can't say, though, that i'm not compelled to defend a couple of points....

first of all, as an ex military man myself, my views on the war in iraq have nothing to do with my respect for the military and the people in it. when you commit to a job like that, you commit to your role in the big picture, and you do your duty as you've sworn to do. i'm sure there are a huge number of soldiers in iraq who are proud to be there,to have an opportunity to serve their country.

i don't, however, think this is the most noble of opportunities to do so.

i think that by occupying iraq without just cause (which has yet to be proven in my mind), we lower ourselves to the same level of a lot of countries that i'm not comfortable keeping company with. it still to this day hasn't been proven that iraq had the WMD capability that our government told us they had, no signs of chem/biological/nuclear capabilities have been proven, and no link between saddam and al-qaeda has been proven. the president lied to the entire country during his state of the union address and said that they had proof that iraq had tried to buy weapons-grade materials from Niger, when they knew this to be false. they told us that we'd be welcomed as liberators, and they've been killing us off to the tune of almost 300 troops in the time since Dubya put on his flight suit and declared that major combat operations were over.

even if iraq had given us something resembling a just reason to kick their ass, at this point i just feel lied to more than anything."

"The only thing I would ask you is not to let yourself be convinced that because people like me feel the way they do, that it makes them anti-troops, unpatriotic, or unamerican. believe me, if i were any of those things, i wouldn't give a rats' ass what Dubya does. but because i do care about our country and our place in the world, i find that it upsets me greatly.

"To (say) that there must be no criticism of the president or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong is not only unpatriotic and servile, but it's morally treasonable to the American public." --Theodore Roosevelt

Having said all this, i'm tempted to wonder if you're even still reading...do know, though, that this doesn't have to be a devisive thing between us unless you choose for it to be. I respect your right to your opinions and the things that i say are simply to elaborate on how i feel. neither one of us has to be "right" or "wrong" about this, as far as i'm concerned."



so this morning she wrote me back to tell me that although she knew what i was going to say before she even read my letter, that i'm not an asshole. (those are my words, not hers...i tend to encapsulate) so i think we're gonna agree to disagree and go back to talking about music or something a little more innocuous. it'll be interesting to see if we still interact the way we have, though. sometimes you can argue the virtues of the yankees vs. the red sox, or eminem vs. jah rule, or fleetwood mac vs. the eagles, or coke vs. pepsi...and you can laugh about it later and it doesn't color anyone's character or anything of that nature. i've found myself have a complete change of heart where people are concerned, though, after bigger things have emerged in the past. for instance, i might make friends with someone at work and enjoy their company until i hear them use the word "nigger" in a sentence, and then i find that i'm no longer compelled to want to be bothered with them anymore. sometimes your basic differences about things like that can push you away from someone completely...and i think that in a case of someone who hadn't already made an impression to the contrary, i'd probably just dismiss them as a crackpot. but i know her reasons for feeling the way she does, and they're perfectly valid from her standpoint. and i can respect that, without feeling like i've compromised my own beliefs.

besides, once you've known someone long enough to get a good look at all the good qualities they have, it does become easier to overlook differences, i think.

but i'll confess, it is something of a new stance for me.


see? you can teach an old hippie new tricks.






stranded karate kids

now playing: jeffrey focault, "walking at dusk"*


i think that God has a way of aligning events to give me a good, character-building kick in the nuts sometimes. (i mean that in the nicest of all possible ways, G.)


last night, i was on my way to pick up the kids at their moms' house, and as i turned off the bypass onto lancaster avenue, a car in front of me came to a stop in front of me and put their flashers on directly under the light at the intersection there. i did my usual inside-the-cranium grumbling about what kinda idiot stops dead still in the middle of the intersection, etc, etc...and went to pick the kids up.

we all loaded into the van...dylan, jayda and her beau (whom i've nicknamed A-ROD), and headed back towards the house - i had a pretty thick agenda for the rest of the night, with a cabling installation and a quote to deliver - but when we turned back onto lancaster avenue, the car was still there in the same spot, but there was a woman standing next to it, with two kids on either side of her in karate uniforms. no coats, just uniforms. i rolled down my window and asked her if she had anyone on the way, but i didn't wait for (or really hear) her reply before i pulled off to the side of the road. as she was telling me that the car ran out of gas, i pulled off my coat and gave it to one of the kids, and a-rod and i went over and pushed her car off to the side of the road. then we loaded the kids and their mom in the van and drove her up the street to get a gas can and we all returned to the car and got them all set and on their way. oh, and i got my coat back.

this morning, as if to say thanks for being a good samaritan, there was a puddle of coolant underneath the front passenger side of my van that had obviously come from my car. i had to get the kids to school, though, and i figured i'd evaluate it once i got there. things seemed ok, no high temp readings or anything, so i drove on to work. halfway there, the oil light began blinking - so when i got to work, i backed into my parking spot (knowing already that it wouldn't be leaving under its own power) and went around back, to find that there was a thin coating of an oil-like substance all over the hatch and the back window.

please, if you're up there...enough already. i won't pick up any more stranded strangers on the side of the road in the freezing cold, i promise. i've learned my lesson.

todd and i were in philadelphia once, after a gig, and we had gone to south streeet to get a pizza at lorenzo's, when a fiftyish black lady came up to us and asked if we could please give her some money, she needed to buy tampons in the worst way...

hell, it had been a good gig, and i was feeling generous, so i hooked her up. above and beyond the call, i thought. she was very grateful, and as she walked off, she told me that "God will bless you tonight!".

later that night, i got a ticket that resulted in temporarily losing my license...for something as harmless as making a u-turn on the ben franklin bridge. can you believe that?

i don't think "blessed" would be one of the things i felt as i sat there watching the reflections of the lovely red and blue lights in my side view mirror...


in all seriousness, i do believe that there exists a higher power, and i don't think it's in my job description to analyze or scrutinize The Plan...although some part of me does think on occasion that he's fucking with me when i swing and miss at one of life's little curve balls so soon after doing a good deed.

i think my character is sufficiently "built" now, G. i'd welcome a break anytime you wanna send one my way. like that time that the guy walked into cash converters with the fender princeton amp that i bought for about 1/8th of what it was worth before they could even put it into stock? or that time that i got those free tickets for john mellencamp and the wallflowers? or the time that i had the blowout on the turnpike literally right next to the ramp for the rest stop?

actually, you know what? never mind. i think we're pretty much even.

i'm gonna go to bed now. let's talk again soon, ok?




*you owe it to yourself to check this guy out...he's an inspiration. he makes me almost want to write songs again....almost.





12.03.2003

is anyone paying attention?

now playing: bee gees, "too much heaven"



this diatribe can be found on Moby's tour journal. I don't really have any friends who are republicans, so I can post this with little fear of offense or retaliation.

'course, what with the newfangled patriot act bein' enforced and all, i should probably watch my manners....never mind, there, mister ashcroft. sieg heil.







flashback burst

now playing: me, "afterthought"


maybe you, or someone you know, has a situation like this.

(ok, disclaimer time: if you're running short on time, you might have to come back later. otherwise, grab a snack and make yourself comfortable. this one has been brewin' all morning.)


maybe at some point, you - or someone you know, of course - had an intense relationship with someone that ended badly, or strangely, or in a way (in my case) that just never fully made sense...

much more common is the relationship that ends for perfectly logical reasons - maybe the adversary was a smoker and smelled awful, or they had that nasty little coke habit, or they talked too much or not enough or they were a die-hard NASCAR fan, or something of that nature...something that just crossed them off your list, for one reason or another.

or, maybe you were on the receiving end of the pinkslip...even then, usually you'll either work really hard to convince yourself that your ex was an asshole and move on, or things will become apparent to you over time, with regard to why it went the way it went.

in the case of the particular intense relationship of which i find myself thinking about today, it took me ages to put everything together on the back end...because i was absolutely convinced, beyond any reasonable doubt, that this was the person i was supposed to spend the rest of my life with.

my take was that i loved her, she allegedly loved me, we were connected so intensely that it actually scared me on a couple of occasions...but everytime we committed to a relationship, it fell apart. twice we took a shot at it. both times it ended...badly, for me. my diagnosis at the time was that every time we tried to make it official, everything went to hell. and that was true. i have the gift of hindsight now, and it makes a lot more sense on some levels why things happened the way they did - i think that my presence was a little too intrusive, and was a lot to deal with in perhaps too short a time. we went from friends to practically living together both times, and actually became engaged on the second pass. i felt that because we'd been friends for so long, that moving straight to where we went felt natural, because we'd already gone through the whole initial process of "getting to know each other". i mean, up until that time, no one had ever shown an interest in, or had been willing to get to know me as well as she knew me. and i loved that (and so many other things) about her. she was an absolute rock for me in certain parts of my life. no one, for instance, was ever as supportive about my talents and aspirations as she was. because i was attracted to her for quite some time before things became official, i had allowed myself to conjure all these pictures in my mind of what our lives would be like together...and for a few weeks each time, every bit of it seemed perfectly within the realm of possibility. it was the one time in my life, after some thought, when it seemed to me that there was absolutely nothing that i couldn't do. nothing exceeded my grasp.

a little age has given me the benefit of wisdom and hindsight, though, and i realize now that you don't walk into a relationship with a clean slate...not your first one, not your last one, nor any of them in between. this, of course, was true of chris and i...we were both quite baggage-heavy, and we only seemed to function when we ignored the fact that we hadn't really unpacked at all. we were both parents outside our own relationship, with different circumstances involved...my children shared their time between their mother and i, which required a great deal of diplomacy and negotiation and compromise, while her son's father was essentially a nonissue and she called all the shots. she felt that i was changing a lot of who i was to be with her, which was both true and untrue. i guess i should take a swing at explaining that one....

perhaps the best example would be the fact that chris was a vegeterian, and i (as is certainly obvious, i would imagine) was/am not. but when i was with chris, i subscribed to the vegeterian ethic as well. i didn't eat meat when i was with her.

i can understand where this would be perceived as something of a leap, but the truth is, i actually enjoyed it. i saw it as a lifestyle choice more than a compromise of any belief that i held, and it was actually a choice i probably would have made for myself, were i not so pathetically lazy where the food i eat is concerned, and were willing to put some forethought and effort into my diet. there was also some duress involving a book that i bought that was important to her that i planned to read to identify with her reasons for feeling so strongly about it. i thought nothing of things like this, but i don't think it was perceived that way. it seemed that she felt that i was bending a little too far backward to compromise myself....which was absolutely true.

i think i can speak for both of us when i say that the reality of "us" was a jarring shock when held up to the fantasy that we both had concocted, with regards to what we thought our lives could be.

reality has a lot of faces, and we only wanted to see the smiley, happy one. we were completely ill-prepared for anything that didn't fit that scenario. and both of us were "runners"...whenever an article of clothing from our formidable baggage collection made its way into the everyday wardrobe, it was met with (individually or in various combinations) avoidance, withdrawal, anger, resentment, or fear. all were available in abundance. and it seemed as though emotions were current - with switches that could be thrown in either direction on a whim. today she loves me, but tomorrow she won't even want me around.

and let me tell ya....I BUSTED MY ASS trying to figure this out, trying to somehow come up with "the trick" for us...thinking that there was something i could do, something i could say, someone i could be to make everything ok. and, of course, there wasn't. with chris, i was in constant fear of saying or doing something that would flip the switch back to the "off" position...if i was guilty of giving myself up for the sake of being with her, that was the primary method i used for doing so....that perpetual fear of upsetting the apple cart. and ultimately, it didn't matter, because the switch eventually flipped anyway - regardless of my efforts.

in both cases, even when things had disintegrated, i blamed myself. i was convinced that i hadn't put enough effort into standing by her when she needed me, that i'd been too quick to turn away, not steadfast enough.

in the years that have followed, i've been able to pinpoint a lot of my own faults a little more closely, but i've also allowed myself to look at our relationship a little more closely. i felt a light go on over my head when it was pointed out to me that "it seems like both of you are in love with chris and no one's in love with tom....". i went from being completely crestfallen over things to being incredibly angry at her and at myself...at her for misleading me, for pulling the carpet out from under my feet, for building me up and tearing me down not once, but twice...who the fuck does she think she is, anyway?!!? i mean, the whole gamut. i said it all, over and over, in my head.

don't get all self-righteous on me, either...you guys know you've done the same thing. i know. you've told me.

i was also angry at myself for what i came to perceive as essentially sacrificing myself for the sake of a very tentative relationship. after looking back on it from some distance, i felt about as pathetic about this as you could probably imagine. here's an example of how bad it was:

she called me at work to let me know that jake was sick, and that she had a meeting at work that she absolutely had to be at (or something of that nature), and i left work to come to her house and stay with jake while she dealt with her work obligations (i picked jake up from where she was working at the time, as i recall)...i stayed with jake for the afternoon and made dinner for the three of us...but when she came home from work, she piled some laundry in her car and took jake to her mom's...didn't stop to eat, nothing. basically left me standing there with a pot of spaghetti.

but i took it all in stride, and got in the van and drove home without saying a word about feeling slighted or anything of the sort...because bringing that up would ultimately lead to "flipping the switch", and as we've established, i just couldn't allow that.

maybe some people don't have to go through this to learn that it's not acceptable, but i did. i could spot a doormat a mile away, unless it was in the mirror.

so i went from being pissed at myself for allowing things to deteriorate to being pissed at myself for being too aloof to see things more objectively...but time does have a way of tempering these things, and ultimately (if you're lucky), you realize that harboring anger or ill will is personally destructive, and that it doesn't allow for moving on, so you find ways to forgive each other and yourself.

and yeah, it's all a total fuckin' cliche', but cliches are cliches for a reason...

i got married the first time because i was a doormat, and chris managed to cure me of that...it took a while, and she wasn't around to reap the benefits, but had i not gone through all that, i would never have had a reason to change. this is not to say that our relationship was without casualties - there are certain things that i lost through that whole process that i haven't really gotten a bead on in the time since, but it's a trade i've made willingly and gladly. in the relationships i've been in since, i've been pretty adamant about what i will and will not accept or tolerate in a partner, and i've maintained the will to walk away if it becomes necessary. and, ultimately, i feel better about myself now, and my boundaries are much more specifically defined. i certainly don't (and haven't) felt as vulnerable in subsequent relationships as i ended up being in that one, but i think that comes at a price, in terms of being willing or able to go past a certain point in my head.

i'll take now over then, though, anyday.

it seems like (for both of us) this time of year...the fall...ultimately brings about a flashback burst on occasion. working on the book probably didn't hurt. sometimes it skips a year, now and then...but it does seem to visit on a sporadically annual shift. i certainly don't hear from chris on anything resembling a regular basis, but she does seem to turn up more often around this time of year. we've actually talked a number of times lately, today being the most recent...she's actually become a regular visitor to the page, and today she sent me a one line email:

"what if your true companion is not your true love?"

now, you have to understand, she used to do this to me all the time...at lunch where we used to work, she'd sit down at the table and ask a question, totally out of the blue, that'd have me scratching my head. once she came in and asked, "what would you ask god if you had just one question?" and another she asked "what would you change about your life if you could change one thing?" and yet another she asked me to describe myself using just three words...then today, during our post-email conversation, she asks, "what one toy would you want if you could have any toy you wanted from your childhood?". i told her, "you know, you used to do this shit to me all the time...i'd come in the lunchroom and you'd hit me with one of these questions that i didn't have a ready answer for, and i'd have to sit there and think about it....jesus, man, all i wanted was a soda!"

this time, though, i had a ready answer, even though i can't remember what it was called...those small motorcycles that had the blue ramp that had the air pump on the back of it that you'd pump up until the back wheel was spinning...then you'd release it and it'd go zooming across the floor...into the wall...under the sofa...

...you get the point.

anyway, i bring all this up because it seems like every time we've tried to re-establish amicable contact in the time since, it seems as though 1997 and 1998 have been in the room with us. i've often thought that it's entirely likely that our past is gonna govern our future, if there is one...if we're gonna be friends, it's something to be conquered, and i've been resolute in the past that it's not really worth revisiting. maybe, though, enough time has passed that it's not necessary to, anymore. i've always had a ready list available, of reasons not to be bothered with the process...and ultimately, it's never been a priority. but the few conversations we've had lately haven't felt so much like work, and it doesn't feel as awkward to go past idle chatter into some of the deeper stuff now, either.

what remains to be seen is if either of us are viable to the other anymore, after so much time and so much experience and change has passed under the bridge.

this, though, has definitely been the year of reconnection for me...a lot of ghosts have come out of the woodwork lately. so i guess it remains to be seen.

interesting sidenote:
chris' son jake goes to the same school as bam margera's girlfriends' son.


also:
comments have been added. go ahead and lemme have it. (this does not mean that you can't hop over to the forum and leave a note now and then, too, though.)



12.02.2003

she's a man, baby!

now playing: janis ian, "in the winter"

i sat down last night and read through what i had created in an effort to write a 50,000 word novel in the space of a month, and realized that - i actually have a pretty good draft here. i also saw the many errors of my ways, and i think i've come up with some ideas to make it much better than it would've turned out, had i stuck with the original formula...i definitely need to tighten up my timeline, though. my once-steadfast memory has become a little cloudy as time has passed and things that were once so significant to me have been relegated to footnote status. they're important in the context of the story, though, so that involves revisiting with a little more detail than i was willing or able to get into for brevitys' sake.

in an odd, sadistic way, though, the whole nanowrimo process was a lot of fun. i'd definitely do it again next year...especially now that i have 12 months' notice, as opposed to a week and a half.

this weekend, stone road returns to what was once my favorite place to play, but i find i have mixed feelings about the place these days. they "grape streeted" the place, essentially...reworked the inside of the building to a huge extent, and the bands now play in the back room instead of up front, and the sound suffers somewhat from the very live quality of the hardwood back there. if the place is full, we'll be fine. we had a huge crowd the last time we played there, and that helped quite a bit, both with the sound of the room and with the energy...our first set was pretty painful, but we overcame.

also, this room will live forever in my memory as the only place (so far) that i've been flashed. how can ya not love a place like this, man?

and let's not even get into the lesbian dirty dancers....i just don't want to talk about it right now.

we have two - no, three gigs between now and the end of the year, and then we're going into some pretty intense rehearsals. i'm actually looking forward to that. the potential we have, in terms of what we can do, is only somewhat tapped at this point. when we start working more seriously on some tighter material, we're gonna be unstoppable.

and, of course, having said that word, I just had matt dillon's character in singles, sitting at the table with the guys in pearl jam..."this band is loved in italy, and in belgium...."


gonna post some pics soon of the home studio - the initial sense of being overwhelmed with possibilities is giving way to some sense of logic, in terms of how to best go about getting everything set up optimally, and the blakester is coming over tomorrow night to take a look around and drop off some tapes, as well as to set up his laptop for hard disk recording.

in other news....i'm not often provoked to this extent, but i sure would enjoy kicking this teacher's ass. no, seriously. i'd be smilin' while i jumped up and down on her spine...or at least the place in her back where her spine should be. and if you're reading this, you know me well enough to know how rare that is.

and after i'm done with her, i might just take on jayda's she-male math teacher from last year...although the idea of taking on someone who looks like a DNA mixup of mrs. doubtfire and fat bastard in austin powers is a little intimidating...

that should clear out my aggression backlog for the foreseeable future.