Last Friday’s conversation, with a dash of Ethel

This is gonna to suck.

You’ve no free time whatsoever this weekend to go off and pretend play “writer”. So instead, you’re going to use up your lunch period today to shove one thousand plus words together into some sort of coherent thought, with hopefully a touch of literary “flourish” thrown in as well?

I’m telling you man, it won’t work. It’s gonna suck.

Why not skip a day? Why not just not post something on Monday? Weren’t you the one who just said today that the world would carry on regardless?

Well, yes, but they expect me to post on Mondays. You see, I always do. And besides, the week following that will find me not being able to post at all, as a result of my business trip.

“They.” Nice word choice. Is this the same “they” that will some day award you a publishing contract? You know, shortly after you and “they” are the only five people left on the planet?

Now, hold on. There’s a touch more than five. Besides, that’s not the point. Even if there was only one – like there was at the very beginning – I’d still stick to it. It’s important that I do.

Yeah? And why’s that?

Well, for my adoring fans, of course!

Cut the crap. I really want to know what the importance of all this is.

The hoped-for post-apocalyptic publishing contract?

Stop dicking around, and tell me why already! Why do you feel the need to thrice weekly write weakly? Why do you put so much time and effort into a task that garners you no cash, no advancement, and no visible benefit of any kind? What I’m asking is, is why do you spend every goddamned weekend pretending to be a writer?

WHY?

Wow. This just sort of turned ugly now, didn’t it.

Then just answer the fucking question already…

Fine. You wanna know “why”? You wanna really know? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you, and then you’ll laugh at me and think even less of me, but I’ll tell you all the same, you son of a bitch.

I do this because I love it. All of it. I love being able to take two words and make each look prettier simply by placing them side-by-side. And I then love being able to repeat the process, until I have sentences full of pretty words. I love being able to take a seed of an inane thought and flesh it out into a diatribe one thousand plus words long. I love being able to bully pulpit my way through any number of topics, and wrap it all up with a little song at the end. And yes, I know I stole that last bit from Lance, it’s a good idea. And I’ll give him credit in due time… I love that burning feeling I get deep within in my gut whenever a new topic bubbles up. A burn that pushes me – sometimes even out of my sleep – to write it all down before it vanishes from my head, vanishes from existence.

I love the writing process, even if it’s done from my tiny phone keyboard late at night, after being awoken from the burn. Hell, I even get a little hard when I find *just the right* picture to accompany my posts. I love it all. And I love reading the other writings, from the other writers – most of whom are far more talented than I. I love the community of it all, the Tribe. I love the fact that people I will never meet have still inspired, educated and transformed me. Made me laugh, cry and feel things I’ve never felt before, or at least not felt nearly enough. And I love knowing that – again – most do it not for profit or gain, but simply because they too hearken to, and enjoy the burn. They too, love to create. And yeah, I actually do love checking my little stats tab every morning to see how many read me the day before. I love the fact that the numbers keep climbing, that I’m somehow being embraced by this Tribe. Recognized.

But most importantly, I love this “weekly writing weakly” because of everything else I have ever done, it is only the second instance in my life in which I find that I am literally forced into being proud of myself. Why? Because there is no one else at this beaten up and bruised keyboard with me. Every little dollop that falls to the screen does so from my own head. I must take the blame for everything that appears here, and I must also take the credit. There are no Drill Instructors that I can say did more than I. There are no friends or family that I can say helped in my endeavors. There are no coworkers who can share in any forthcoming success. No, similar to my first instance of forced pride – when I quit smoking – there is not one other living soul who I can blame for this blog, it’s mental meanderings or it’s potential success. And I love it because it’s good. Not perfect, but good. Damned good. And I did that. And after forty-two overdue years, it feels exhilarating to finally be able to take this kind of pride in myself.

And that’s why I love it. OK? Will that suffice into shutting you the fuck up now?

Will it?

Yeah. It will. I get it.

And hey, I’m proud of you too.

But you do realize, this post still does kinda suck, right?

Now, why don’t you wrap it all up with a pretty song, and let these good people go until Wednesday.

Right. Can do.

Here goes – a ditty to help me pummel through all the weekend crap I need to get done before weekend’s end…

(Bet you can’t listen to whole thing…)

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Resulting from dawdling red orbs & angry white flakes

Judas Priest’s “Hell Bent For Leather” slammed through the tiny car speakers, at a volume much louder than forty-two year old ears were normally in agreement with, while long-overdue snow, February-fattened by the still-unfrozen lake, came barreling down and forward kamikaze-style towards my windshield. Combined, they helped to create an experience unlike any I have ever felt before, one that made my 60 mph feel much more like a warp speed 9. One that took me out of the driver seat of my little Versa and into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. The icy road gave nowhere for my tiny tires to latch on to, thus lending to the experience a feeling even more transcendent and dreamlike.

Jumping from lane to lane in a effort to tunnel past the dawdling red orbs of those other drivers who were moving much slower than I, it still felt as if my car was standing perfectly still, if not actually losing ground. The feeling made me queazy and uneasy, but a touch excited at the same time. Somewhere in the back of my skull, a little mother screamed at me to slow down, but I couldn’t. It was too much of an experience to embrace, especially when in consideration that not once in the forty-two years my ears have been alive, have I ever felt anything even close to the same. It didn’t end until my exit jumped up to greet me, and I was reduced to once again traveling at speeds more legal, on roads more treacherous though signaled.

Now, I don’t want to say that what occurred was one of those “life flashing before your eyes” type of moments, but only because it was exactly not that. I suppose that I mention the feeling however, because what I did undergo could best be understood if it were envisioned as sitting across from that type of experience, playing checkers and getting on quite famously together. And the feeling was this: while pummeling down the road, braving an army of fat snow flakes and bobbing red orbs, it dawned on me just how pointless the whole thing was. Is. All of it. But not in a bad way. Not in a “slamming me to a halt” sort of way, but rather, a “lifting me above it all” sensation. That little mother in the back of my head had nothing to fear, as nothing bad could really ever happen. It may have seemed scary to her, but I actually was in control. Of course, I had nothing to fear either. Even as I blindly rushed towards school, fretting about the fact that I would be late to take an Ecology test that I had forgotten to study for (why Ecology????).

It dawned on me, this rushing about and studying and sometimes failing are all manmade things. Things that have no purpose or reason in the real world, other than to make us feel good about ourselves. And I don’t mean our “real world”, but rather the world’s real world. Life’s real world. So, in those few moments spent racing head-on into Mother Nature’s fat white army, I felt not my life, but the world flash before my eyes. And I was liberated as a result. I needn’t fear. The world would continue on, even if I was late to class. Even if I did poorly or in fact failed the test I had forgotten to study for (why Ecology????). The world would even carry on if I allowed at least one set of those little red orbs to hold me back from achieving – what under those conditions – was to be considered breakneck speed. And from there, I was pulled into even wider things. The world would carry on pretty much regardless of anything that might happen. If I never get out of my dead-end job, the planet won’t care. If I somehow happen to find or create a new future, career-wise, the world will be similarly nonplussed. Should I lose C even, the world will still turn. When I lose my dad later this year, it will continue to as well. And should I somehow damage relationships along the way with any of my Three, or others that I love – or the others that I don’t love – nothing will change. That damned planet is just going to keep on spinning. I am just one tiny prick (pun intended) on the stipple of Life. And free as a result.

And if matters as important as this are – in the grand scheme of things – of no real importance at all, then how much less important still must the vein search for cash, cars, glory and girls be? How wasteful of our time can the pursuit of power, fame and position be? And why do we find ourselves rushing about on snow-blind nights, searching these things out, instead of simply enjoying our freedom from them?

Now, I know none of this is exactly “news” to you, and assuming you haven’t fallen asleep by this point, I wanted to let you know that I already knew it as well. But there was something within this particular moment, this one nugget of unforeseen time, that allowed me gleam the whole blessed wreck from God’s viewpoint instead of my own. Or in other words, for a brief moment I was able to see the “whole” of it instead just the “now”. And in so doing, I realized that the now of it was all that truly mattered. Some of you who dig through my mental rubbish on a weekly basis might now be thinking, “so could this be the long-overdue response from J.C. you were in search of a few weeks back?” I’d like to think it was. But even if it wasn’t, I was glad of the experience. I was glad to be reminded that most – if not all – of the things we as humans chase after, have nothing at all to do with our humanity. And all the things that do, are right there at our finger tips the whole time, free for the taking. All we need to do is stop running into the world, and reach out to it instead.

•••••

The song included in today’s post was the one that I was listening to as I ended my journey (both spiritually and physically) while pulling into the campus parking lot. And yes, it is actually on the same disc as the first song mentioned today. Don’t ask, my mixes can get pretty nasty. Anywho, I’m including it here, because it felt like such a fitting way to end my “ride”, bringing into even greater focus the nonsense with which we surround ourselves. Of course, I’m also including it because it’s damned good. The brainchild of Ben Folds, Henry Rollins and one Mr. William Shatner, I fear too few people know of it’s existence. An error I hope to remedy somewhat today.

And yes, I’m using the Avatar version. Because Avatar is way cool.

Briefly…

After forty two plus years of life, and with nary an incident to back it up, oversized bearded men driving around in nondescript vans still creep me out.

Oh, and here’s this week’s 100 Word Song. I’m not sure if I went where I was supposed to, but I like where I did(n’t) land.

I LIKE it!

With the notable exception of the mixed tape, I strongly feel that the single greatest invention of the modern era is the “Like” button. However, my love of this little button-that-isn’t-an-actual-button-at-all is not the reason I’m writing about it today. Rather, my purpose is to hopefully clear up any possible misconceptions that might be floating about, by explaining my use of it to you. A usage that admittedly some may say borders on abusage. Yes, I know that that’s not a real word. I don’t care. I sounds cool.

As many of you whom I follow know, I can be a pretty avid user of the “Like” button (let me know if I ever use yours to the point of breaking it – you know, where the button gets semi-permanently stuck, squashed slightly under the hard rubber perimeter. Lodged in there just enough so that you can’t get it undone without first unscrewing the back plate and dismantling the whole mess – and I’ll gladly get you a new one). Now I click your “Like” buttons for one reason, and one reason only. Whatever you wrote, that I just read, I liked. Pure and simple. You wrote it. I liked it. And I used the second greatest invention of the modern era to let you know. And I hopefully didn’t break it in the process. Now, maybe I didn’t like your post to the point of physically jumping onto my desk and screaming “Brilliant!”, but it was good none the less. And I felt you should know that. In part, because I know that out here in Bloglandia, you can never be quite sure as to if what you just published is actually good, or if you’ve just tricked your brain into thinking it was (I feel it’s safe to say, I naturally assume my brain is duped far too often).

What the “Like” button is NOT for me is a marketing tool. Or a brush-off. If I’ve clicked your “Like” button, it wasn’t in an attempt to say “hey, I’m over here! Come check me out and pet my blog!” Nor was it me saying “I really couldn’t be bothered to respond to this drivel. But I do feel you should know I popped in for a bit. You’re welcome” No, I have one firm rule about my button usage. I only use it if, after reading your post, my brain says something to the effect of “I liked that.” I also sometimes pretend I’m British and say “that was jolly good” or “good show!” And yes, the occasional desk-jumping “Brilliant!” can also be heard from time to time. *Proactive digression alert* Is it proper to use “time to time” immediately after making use of an “occasional”? I only ask because that last sentence seemed to simply fall off a cliff without the “time to time” bit. But now it just seems a tad redundant. Anywho, back on topic. What I was trying to say in the linguistic contraption above is this: if I’ve liked your post, I wasn’t simply waving at you to say hello (although as long as we’re at it, “hello!”), I was just letting you know that I think that you’re a good writer/photographer/artist/apologist/thinker/tinker/humorist/philosopher/protester/story teller/candlestick maker and/or chef. Although, to be honest, I never really read the recipe blogs, and I’m none to sure there’s even a one dedicated to candle craftsmanship. Please don’t tell me if I’m wrong.

“So, if you like my stuff so much t, then how come you so very rarely comment?” Well, here’s where it might start to sound a bit insincere, if not downright cheesy. But honestly, there are times when I feel that what was written was so perfect and/or complete that additional comments just aren’t warranted. And in fact, the comments made by others can sometimes appear to me to be either just idle (and sometimes downright creepy) adoration, or a shameless plug for the commenter’s site. In short, I see comments – made of an unnecessary nature – as simply serving to only muddy the whole point of the post, in lieu of enhancing it. And seeing as I would hate to muddy your post, unless I feel I really have something to add, I most often refrain. Unless I’m drunk at the time, of course, but that’s a wholly other story. Now, what I just said does not in any way pertain to my Blogspot cousins. Seeing as how your site won’t pony up the $19.95* required for a “Like” button function, I am “forced” to leave comments to show my appreciation. To me, it feels very much like putting on an overly starched and ill-fitting suit, just prior to coming over for tea on a hot summer day. As a result, I apologize if my comments on your pages seem to be born of either of the two scenarios I noted above.

And please, don’t even get me started on the mountain of security measures your place has just to gain admittance. Seems to me they could afford a “Like” button if they laid off just two of the apparent eight thousand CAPTCHA writers they have on staff. So, since I’m not allowed to “Like” you, I would ask that you instead accept this post today as your symbolic click, good for multiple uses, until such time as you have your own.

So, it looks like I’ll be letting you out a little early today, well under 1,000 words. Sorry if this one was a snooze, but I felt it was important to clear up any possible misunderstandings, as it has been weighing on me for a bit. As I mentioned before, to a certain extent we’re all just sort of free-falling out here, not really knowing if we’re understood or not. Unsure if we’ve “nailed it,” or have simply duped ourselves into thinking we have. And I wanted you to know, when you see my little square head directly beneath your “Like” button, you can rest assured that I feel you’re much more on the “nail” end of the equation than on the “dupe.” Good show!

So, to recap:

• If I click the “Like” button, it’s because I liked it.

• If I don’t comment afterwards, it’s simply because I feel you nailed it.

• Abusage would be a cool word.

Well, after just saying that, I suppose we could have actually wrapped up this post in well under 30 words. I hope this didn’t feel like a waste of time. And in fact, I hoped you liked it enough to take advantage of second the greatest invention of the modern era to let me know.

*I’m totally guessing at this price point. But if I’m close, let me know and I’ll be glad to float Blogspot a twenty.

Neither the Prince nor Old Lady Shade

OK, here’s what I said. I said “I love these pics – as I love looking at the treetops as well. For me, they always have been the place where the earth touches the sky. The place where birds perch, mocking those of us who only wish we could fly.

And here’s what she said in response. She said “Hey t, I trust that “Writer’s Block,” will break free any minute now. Thanks for stopping and for the comment. Onward and Upward. :)

And would you believe, she was right!

As I drove home, I stopped staring at bumper stickers, and looked upwards instead to the spiny dead trees, softly scratching at the surface of the sky. Tickling it’s soft underside until the firmament almost giggled itself into a warmer shade of blue. Now don’t get me wrong, I also kept my eye on the road (you can’t say I haven’t learned anything from Jesus). But whereas a normal day would have found me ruminating about any number of things earthern-bound, I found my mind focused instead on the tree tops, stiffly swaying this way and that. I focused on them, and on how blessed they are to be able to “touch” the heavens as they do.

photo taken by Prasanna Gururajan

“But t, trees are hardly the tallest things we have, and barely do they touch the sky at all, by comparison.” True, but of all the monoliths upward bound, the trees are the bees knees – The wha..? – OK, I have no idea what I meant by that just now, but I felt driven to write it. It just seemed so right. Heck, I’m even gonna go back and read it again – hold on for a second – OK, I’m back. Digressions aside, instead of writing what I wrote, what I was actually going to make mention of was this: yes, the buildings climb higher than the trees. But these are of man, and as such, inherently corrupt. They do more to pierce the sky than tickle it. They thrust upward in function alone, invading and taking over, instead of peacibly coexisting. In short, they are rude and oversized phallic symbols, trying veinly to impregnate the sky with Man’s pride. Mountains too, reach much higher than the trees. But they reach so high as to no longer be visible to one so small as myself. In fact, in many cases they reach heights as to pass through the sky altogether, thus ruining the illusion in the process. So, of all the monoliths, I lean towards the trees when sky-dreaming, simply because they are the least inclined to act like monoliths in the first. Never mind the fact that lying on a soft blanket of grass, while sky gazing under a tree, is far more comfortable than laying on the sidewalk outside your local skyscraper and doing the same.

Within the trees you can find the animal that I am most jealous of, and for the purpose of today’s post, that animal is the bird. If I were feeling particularly base right now, I would insert a joke here implying that my jealousy revolved around the birds ability to publicly defecate anywhere, and without breaking stride. But seeing as I’m not feeling particularly base right now, I will refrain from making mention of any such thing. Instead, I will simply let you know that it’s not so much the bird I’m jealous of, as it is his power of flight. Flight. Can you imagine it? Flight without devices, or jets, or gizmos of any kind being required. Flight whenever desired, and for as long as as well. Flight, by simply spreading your wings and setting sail. Now, that’s for me Jack! I know that in order to have this power, I would also require hollow bones, a development that wouldn’t necessarily be to my advantage at the next bar fight. But let’s be honest, I can’t imagine I’m going to encounter any of those any time soon, so I’m willing to make the trade. Of course if C were here right now, she would also make mention of the fact that with hollow bones, my blogging days would be over as well, seeing as I’m a very aggressive hunter-pecker. My poor keyboard simply weeps every time I sit before it. Crying over the bruises that it will have to endure, as a result of the one thousand plus words I’m getting ready to inflict upon the blogosphere for that day. One brutally punched key at a time. Of course, if I could fly, I’m none to sure that my state of bloglessness would bother me too much. I’m of the belief I’d take flight over type to cure what ails me, open air over written word to set myself free. As I’m pretty sure the percentage regarding incidents of accidental bug consumption is about the same for either task, I’m thinking the power of flight would be a clear winner. Seeing as it’s a theory I’ll never be able to test, I fear you’re simply going to have to resolve yourselves to being stuck with me. But don’t feel too bad, at least you’re not my poor keyboard.

So, I am a grounded human who can not fly. One who is more rooted than the tree, simply by having the knowledge of my roots, the awareness of my chains. But unlike the trees, and the birds that rest upon them, I can dream. I can dream of tickling the sky while I fly across it. I can envision the world beneath me, and I can enjoy my vision. The tree may very well touch the sky. But it never knows that it does. And the bird may very well drop a bomb on the car of the biggest, richest Pisser ever, but it feels no righteous satisfaction in it’s action. Oh no, wait. That was going to be my “feeling particularly base” response. What I meant to say was this: the bird can simply take wing whenever it wants, but instead it is locked into so doing only when instinct mandates it. Of the three of us, it is only I who am truly free. Of the three, it is only I who will ever be able to suffer writers block, and be glad of the experience. I am neither the flying Prince nor the sky-tickling Old Lady Shade. I am rather, and possibly more importantly, the little child who can one day rise higher than them both.

“Oh? And what’s so stinking about it?”

OK, I lied a little bit on Monday. I’m sorry.

Don’t get me wrong, I was suffering from writers block. But only a little. And even that only due to the fact that I had, just prior to then, plunked out my second-ever book review for The Review Crew (!!!).

Don’t believe me? Then check it here.

See? Told ya. I don’t know why you never believe me any way. Hell, I’ve even made up a page dedicated to it, based on the assumption that you’d want to go back multiple times to read these…

Now, I’ll bet those of you “in the know” can already tell which book I’m reviewing based solely on the title of this post. And if not, then here’s another clue to aid you, or if nothing else, at least help you to get your new wave boogie on.

I hope you enjoy both this song and the review. And I hope you don’t come back around here, simply to throw rotten canned vegetables at me if you don’t.

Happy Friday!