The Time Honored New Year's ..oh blah=P

1/8/09

Last night was a blustery night. The wind was howling through the trees, the light mist stinging my cheeks as I walked along. I was a dark wraith in the night. I was dressed in light, loose cargo pants that I had tied up at the bottom to make them flair out even more so that I would be as comfortable as possible. I wore a black Columbia vest that I had zipped up to the very top just because I liked the way the neckline made my sharp jaw line stand out. On top of that I wore my long, black leather duster, and because the wind was so fierce last night, it whipped around behind me like it used to when I walked to the Mississippi river on a fall night just to hear the wolves howl.

I hadn’t felt that good in years. I felt like I was embracing my darkness, allowing it to caress and envelope me like a lover, not smother me the way it usually does, in that “emo” way that so many of the young kids talk about these days in high school. I guess in my own way I’ve always had that flair for the dramatic, but it suits me sometimes. Nights with a howling wind and the electric smell of rain in the air always pull me in this way. There were nights like that in New York too, but I didn’t have the same perspective on those nights. I was usually too busy trying to look tough and confident instead of embracing the night with all of my senses. Feeling the wind rush through my sleeves and ripple at my shoulders was almost as intoxicating to me as staring at a beautiful woman in nothing but a sheer nightgown, the only thing left to my imagination the whisper of her voice in my ear.

I came to today somehow different. It probably helped that I was walking somewhere last night that proved to be my own personal solace in the craziness that has been the holiday season. I found a refuge from the deluge of negativity and depression that seems to emanate from people post Christmas and New Years. The term “new year” has always seemed so loaded to me. It’s just another marker for the passage of time. Nothing more.

Yet like others around me, I cannot help but reflect on the happenings of the year before and wonder at my own frailties and celebrate my own successes. In truth, 2008 was one of my toughest yet. I had to maintain sanity at a workplace that seems to have embraced the idea of chaos and impending doom as the status quo, and yet I had to learn to be more truthful in an environment where nobody ever seems to say what they mean or mean what they say. I cannot pretend that I have succeeded in preserving a positive outlook in lieu of all that mess. Leaders are not leaders at that place. The blind lead the blind, and the ones that can see have their eyes gauged out and their mouths gagged just to make it easier for the ones who get the most out of the madness. It has driven me into a depression of late.

My depression is not helped, of course, by the continued silence from my own family. I obviously hoped for too much two years ago when I wrote that fateful letter to my parents and stirred up a pot of emotion and things from the past that nobody seemed willing to face. But I was in desperate need of an answer to my search for happiness. Instead, all I got were angry phone calls from an inebriated and increasingly isolated mother, sad and pathetic explanations from a father who had long ago given up on his own happiness, and an increasing sense of my own desperation to belong to something beyond my own inner darkness. I’ve long ago learned to accept the serious dysfunction in my own family, but it is still difficult for me not to withdraw from my present day friends and loved ones, not to retreat into my own personal hell. It’s almost sexy to me in some ridiculous way that I can’t even fathom anymore because I’ve gotten so habituated to the whole pattern.

But what does one do when the light of the sun never seems to reach them entirely?

One might start, at least in theory, by walking toward the orange ball of fire that at least, in terms of space, time and the theory of relativity, still existed this morning.

Of course, I don’t know where this walk will take me. There is a great deal about the world and about myself that I simply do not know. I couldn’t even tell you if I’m just beginning this walk or if I’ve been doing it for so long that I’m just plain lost. Some mornings I still wake up wondering why I bother to keep it all going. What is it that I’m so desperate to reconcile in myself? Guilt, shame, rage? Do I love anyone at all if I cannot love myself? What does that even mean, this self love crap? That sounds like something that fell off the Happiness bandwagon back in the nineteen nineties.

How the hell does anyone keep themselves straight in this world? And why do I spend so much of my time feeling so disconnected from people, even when I’m surrounded by them?

Who the hell said this was going to be an easy trip, trying to get to the sun?
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    contemplative contemplative

Writing and Drumming

Once again, I make my way back into the fray. I'm still struggling with what it is that makes me happiest in this world. I'm still puzzling over the idea that I have the right to exist on this planet. I'm still seeing a shrink to deal with the rest of me.

Oddly enough, one of the things that has kept me sane over the last few very difficult years has been the discovery of a particular kind of drumming circle over in Southeast Portland. It's at a little store called Cedar Mountain Drums, and the store itself is almost unassuming in appearance. But I had no idea that stepping inside more than two years ago would have led me to the point I am at now with life. The circle is a place where I do more than share my outrageous rhythms on various African style drums. I feel safe and welcome enough to bare my soul at this place. I can't even say that about my own flesh and blood family.

To make a long story somewhat shorter, after a hell of a lot of internal struggling with self doubt and with life's many, many obstacles, I had the guts to share something of my true voice with my friends at the men's drumming circle three weeks ago. I had written a piece just weeks after my very first men's circle at this place almost two years ago, and I had hidden it away for whatever reasons came to my already confused and frightened mind. Still, I think the piece reflects the very struggles I face when dealing with other people and strange situations. I realize now even as I read it again that so much of what I wrote about is universal. I read this piece out loud to all the other men in my circle three weeks ago, and I share it with you all now because, well, I just want to.

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    calm calm

A long road

These are the times when I hate the fact that I self reflective.

I thought I was going to start this entry by reflecting on the year that I've had, but really all I can think about is the last couple of months and how fucking hard they've been.

I do things lately to distract myself from the pain that keeps ripping my heart apart whenever I think of my family. My grandfather.

My dad is a great help for that too. Just recently, he told me of my grandfather's last days on this planet. He told me of how Gram pa was trying to see everyone in the family before he died. He told me that the one thing I could have done to help was to be there.
It's just too bad that my father didn't keep me in the loop like he promised he would, or, for better or for worse, I would have flown home to say goodbye.

Yes, it times like the holidays that bring out so much of my pain.

But there is joy as well. I've tried so hard to make this the best Christmas I could have.

Something in me snapped, it seemed, when news of my grandfather's death became official. It's like, somehow, I've decided to really put into action all that crap I've been going on about regarding happiness and authenticity. I've spent a lot on gifts and cards and all that stuff, but I think I'm giving it all to the right fucking people. I even bought a pair of sneakers for a complete stranger as part of that giving tree thing they do my job for charity. That's not something I've done before either. It felt good. I've given Christmas cards to friends at work. I'm still thinking I might send one to my parents.

I could be doing all manner of awful things right now as I continue to mourn. But I'm not. I could be shaving my head and sharpening my sword cane. I could be screwing around on Marje or I could always take up smoking and drinking again. But none of those things will help me get through this heart wrenching pain. I hate that. And I hate my grandfather for dying, and I hate that I wasn't there to send him off. I hate my family, yet I love them too. It drives me so fucking crazy, knowing that I still care despite all that's happened.

I don't know where I'm going with this entry. I guess I'm feeling emotional. Emotions are not my enemy anymore, hard as that is for me to admit. I'm not angry anymore either. Not really. Just sad. Crying a lot at random moments, crying at the sappy scenes in movies, crying when it hurts. Like right now.
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    sad sad

Facing the unknown

Last night, I did something that I never thought I would do before.

I wrote a letter to "crow." "Crow" isn't a person I know, and it isn't another one of my personalities or anything like that. "Crow" is simply what I choose to believe is a spirit guide of mine.

But I've written to "crow" before. A nameless black corvid with a penchant for adaptive living, "crow" is something of an enigma to me, but I still try to communicate with him/her all the same.

But last night, as I stuffed the letter to crow and an offering of bread into an envelope and left it on my bedroom alter, I thought about the request I had made of crow in the letter, and I had to fight back some of the toughest emotions I've ever known.

I asked crow to find my grandfather and tell him that I'm Ok, that I tried, and that I'm sorry. This is going to sound really lame, but I sent crow to find the soul of a man who had been dead for seventeen days.

I didn't ask crow to bring him back, of course. 'Sides, I couldn't abide my bald, hispanic grandfather showing up at my doorstep in a long dark coat and clown make up.

Ah, the plot thickens.

Yesterday afternoon, my mother called me. You all know by now that this is never a good thing. She called to tell me that my grandfather had died of complications due to the chemotherapy he had been receiving for his lung cancer. "Pneumonia," she said, as I sank to my knees.

I wasn't surprised he was dead of course. What did surprise me, however, was when my mother told me he had died on October 29th of this year.

it took my parents seventeeen days to get around to telling me that he was dead.

And the capper to this story was that my mother then proceeded to tell me that I had broken my grandfather's heart.

Allow me to explain. When I was first given news of my grandfather's diagnosis of lung cancer more than four months ago, my father had asked me to call him. To say what? I have no idea. Of course, being the fine bastions of communication they all are back at home, my father had given me my grandfather's home number and told me that he would be keeping in touch with me to update me on my grandfather's condition.

From my end, having this kind of news sprung on me was hard enough, but it was even harder for me to think of what I could possibly say to a man that I had only ever known as a lonely, cynical, angry person with a death wish - a person that I know now I have been struggling not to become. It took me three weeks to get the courage to call him. But twice I got no answer.

Then, like an idiot, I lost my grandfather's number., Determined to figure this out and say something to the man, I tried to call my parents. Not once, but twice. The first time, my call didn't even seem to go through. The phone rang for ten minutes before I gave it up. The second time.....well, the impression that I got was that my mother answered, pretended not to hear me, and hung up on me. Still unphased, I e-mailed my father and waited for three weeks, checking my e-mail once a day. Nothing.

I gave up on my parents at that moment, unsure how I would get my grandfather's information. I turned my apartment upside down for three days in search of that phone number. I scoured the internet, looked at dozens of "find this person" websites, and even considered hiring a private detective to get the information for me, whatever the cost. And it was all to avoid having to call my parents again just to have my mother play her dramatic little games with me.

And here I was yesterday, sitting in the same spot I am right now, listening to this cold witch of a woman tell me that I had broken my grandfather's heart.

Before I could muster a reply, of course, she had hung up on me. Stunned, I slowly placed my phone back in its cradle and paced. "What the fuck do I do now?" I asked myself.

Minutes passed as I tried to absorb the enormity of the this news. My grandfather was dead, my mother was angry (what else is new?) and my father....

Wait, what happened to my father? Why didn't he call me sooner?

as if in response to my latest internal query, the phone rang again. I picked it up, answered horsely, and waited.

"You destroyed your father too."

Rage such as I'd never known suddenly burst forth.

"BULLSHIT!" I screamed. But it was too late. All i could hear on the other end was the tone of a conversation abruptly ended.

Before I even knew what I was thinking, I scrambled to find a phone card. Without missing a beat, I dialed the 1-800 number, the card number, and then my home phone number and waited. My parents let their answering machine pick up (cowards) and then I spoke.

"OK. I got the news. Now let me make something as clear to you both as possible."

I was surprised at the calm in my voice. And I was even more surprised when I heard my father's voice.

"Yeah," was all he said, but the tone in his voice spoke volumes. It was cold and distant.

"Well I got the news," I pressed on.

"Yep."

I was livid.

"Why the fuck did it take you seventeen days to tell me?"

"Why the fuck didn't you call him?" Dad replied.

"Why don't you ask your wife?" I snarled.

Silence.

"Where is he buried?" I asked, barely able to control my rage.

"New Jersey?"

"Why the fuck is he buried there? What's the significance of that place to him?"

"He didn't want to be buried underground."

"Hmm," was all I could say to that. I now found myself wondering if my grandfather and I shared claustrophobia among other numerous fears. What else didn't I know about him?

"Hey man, why don't I call you later?" Dad suddenly said. The distance in his voice had been replaced by something much worse. Urgent entreaty. It had been something I had only heard once before, and it had been no more of a comfort at that moment.

But as entreaty (and was that panic?) came to my father's voice, a jagged shard of ice burst through my heart. I snorted in utter disgust.

"Yeah right," I said, before hanging up.

I've been replaying this scene in my head ever since. I am, as of now, unable to speak to the hatred I feel, not for my parents themselves, but for what they chose to do in this situation. I waver between pity and heartache for my parents, but what is done is done. I didn't even get the chance to decide whether or not I would be attending my own grandfather's funeral. This has been, without a doubt, the last straw as far as I am concerned.

Heaven help my parents if they try to speak to me again.
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    cold cold

Slow melting of ice

Greetings all. I am alive.

That I am alive comes as much more of a surprise to me than I am sure it does to any of you.

That being said, I will update you all as best I can (since I know you're all interested).

I've managed to find and hold a job for the past year or so. It's a retail job, which means it desperately sucks, but it's something that helps feed and shelter me, so I guess I should be grateful for that much, especially considering that I could not even say I had THAT at this time last year.

I am also writing a book. I've been working on it for the last year. I have no idea why I wrote it at all except that it was a great excuse to write at all. I'm just surprised that it has evolved into what it is. Someday within the next few months, I hope to have the rough draft finished so I can find some people who might want to read it and see what they think.

If anyone had been wondering about my hermitage, my job and my book (at least until recently) were responsible for about half of it. The other half, I'm afraid, is my continuing struggle with depression.

I am now officially non existent according to my mother, and my father, who's always had bigger biceps than cojones, has decided to allow that to mean that he does not get to talk with me either. All this happened just before my grandfather (dad's father) was diagnosed two months ago with lung cancer. Perhaps some of you know how much I had to fight the urge to laugh and say "i told you so!" before I burst into tears right on the spot. According to the news I heard two months ago, my grandfather may have three months left in this world. trying to contact him has been such a fiasco because of my parents that it's taken all of my strength not to fly back over to New York and confront them in person.

Marjorie continues to do well, and she is now an official high school biology teacher for the Beaverton, Oregon school district. She teaches at a school called South Ridge. That, in fact, is where she is at this very minute. She is happy doing what she does, and I am happy for her.

Would that I had that kind of direction in my own life=)

I should go now, i suppose, and think about writing more of my book if i accomplish nothing else today. I'm fighting the urge to scream today, i suppose. It's not been a good day for me emotionally, and quite frankly, I feel like an alien who has been placed among normal people and expected to function as they do. it's not easy, especially lately.

Talk to you all later, perhaps.

(no subject)

More Job search ranting from yours truly.  There's a touch of anger in this one.  See if you can spot it.   

I didn't actually do any serious job hunting today.  I needed the break.  I'll post more later, for those who are interested.

 
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Job Hunting is Harsh

Hey all. I'm new to the Portland, Oregon area and I've been on the job hunt for what feels like forever. I've only actually been hunting from within Portland for the last week or two. The truth of the matter is, I seriously hate job searches. The last few that I did left me wondering if I was a failure as a human being.

I've decided, for some reason, to record and to share my impressions of this current job search. I'm not even going to pretend that these are words of wisdom and encouragement for others who may be in the same situation. If anything, this commentary on my experience will probably serve as bad comedy. For those of you who know me, this will read as one of the longest rants I've ever written. For those of you who don't know me, this will read as one of the longest rants that anyone has ever written.


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    contemplative contemplative

Debate rant

I watch a horse-faced man with unbelievably thick hair take the ten gallon hat off a cowboy's head and then proceed to knock him into next thursday.

I listen to the inane babble of news personalities pretending to be objective about this event. It doesn't matter. Someone had to win and someone had to lose. Done deal.

Are there really going to be two more of these ridiculous events? Are they even going to be useful , when it is well known that the country is already extremely polarized, and probably has been since the aftermath of 9/11?

I watched that happen. I was there, just on the threshold of hell, watching it from my living-room window. A building comes down like a giant house of cards, and I'm starkly aware of the screams, though it would be impossible to hear them from my apartment in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan.

People died. The smoke wafted into my neighborhood. I smelled the charred remains. I gagged, and then I went numb.

And I watched as our president grieved for those who were lost, and then proceeded to wage a War on Terror. But what was a war on Terror supposed to be? Did that mean that there was going to be a war on the fear that kept New Yorkers from coming outside for months after that horrific event? Did it mean that there would be some campaign waged against the media for playing up the stereotypes of overzealous, enraged dark-skinned desert people too angry to know the kisses of their loved ones? Was this "War on Terror" supposed to be an epic struggle against the nightmares that my father had after he had to count body parts at Ground Zero, or against the insanely overused images of those planes hitting the side of a building-the images that still to this day knock the wind from my stomach and send me to my knees?

That's a war on Terror, folks. Hey Mr. President, give me some weapon to help me fight the racial profiling going on in my state thanks to your homeland security measures. Give me a squad of troops so we can liberate women held hostage by white Christian males who stand over them at abortion clinics, pretending that they know what it is to create and destroy a life that dwells within themselves. Why not fund a Minnesota core to help fight these white supremacist assholes who seek to create terrorists in our own AMERICAN children? Hell, lend me an army simply because I want to be a part of a community, and people who have to fight and die with and for each other often form the best communities, by God.

Or build me an army worthy of Mordor......

Oh yes. I watched that debate. I played with my girlfriend's hair. I thought about my life in the last two years, and then I cried.
  • Current Music
    Tears for Fears "Shout"

(no subject)

9/24/04

I'm sitting in a room in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A female is snoring audibly nearby. She lies within the shell of blue seizure pads, a giant pillow, and a bedpost beneath her feet. Next door, a young man loudly admonishes Harvey the Rabbit for "talking too fucking loud" and "keeping people up too late." The female in this room continues to snore, aware of nothing except what the sandman whispers into her ear. The air is thick and still. It is humid, and I almost pretend that a thick fog rolls in and hides the walls and windows outside this room. Perhaps when I leave this room I will have to walk along a lighted path to some emergency exit miles away.

Suddenly, an unseen woman speaks, and her voice shatters the stillness and lifts the fog. She must be talking to Harvey the Rabbit's friend. She asks him if he can tell her what the voices are saying. She also asks him if he is in pain. Somehow, the young man manages to tell the woman that he is having a toothache. The woman makes a phone call and a decision. I hear the man trudge back to his room next door. It is unclear if he got what it is that he needed, but I can only sit here and hope for the best.

I look up briefly. My female companion is still asleep. That gives me ample time to look around at all the poetry and the paintings she has placed all over her room. Some of this artwork covers the front of her bedroom door. More of the artwork covers a section of a nearby bedroom wall. Still more paintings and writings cover her bedroom window, and these are arranged like badly utilized Tetris pieces. I've read the poetry before. Some of the poetry makes sense, but more of it reads like little more than loquacious gibberish. The pictures appear to be handmade. They are all intensely colored with reds, greens, blues, oranges, purples, and browns for background, and jet black images in the foreground. The black images are stylized ravens. Many of the ravens are in profile, perching on a single tree branch. There are ravens that fly toward mountains, and more that fly away from them. After having read the poetry, I wonder if the images are derived from the poetry or if the poetry is derived from the images. After all, the poetry often speaks of ravens flying through storms, or ravens carrying messages of impending doom.

Impending doom.

This woman now snores, unaware that I am absorbing her images and her words. I sit here in this room in Minneapolis Minnesota, perfectly content not to know which is derived from which.
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Only at my job

I just got finished talking to a female patient at my job. Now i say talking, but i really mean listening..listening very hard, for this person had a trach ring and no voice box, so she was essentially the loudest mute i've ever listened to. For someone with no voice, she can talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk...and then she'll talk some more. And just when i think i can move and get past her or walk away from her to do something else, she'll tap me on the shoulde ..and keep on talking as though I've nothing better to do with my time than to listen to her barely audible but obvious delusions. So according to her, I'm in love with an demon but I've got to conver this demon to an Angel or some such thing.


man...only at my job could i get a headache listening to someone with no fucking voice.

WHHHARRGH!