Crazy.

He was a client. Just a client.

Why am I sitting here, crying over the news of his sudden death? Why did he have to die while vacationing with his bride? Why did he have to die at all?

And the other? He was my sister-in-law’s father.

I knew him better, but that fact didn’t save his life. Maybe he’s spending time with dad now, maybe not.

Am I crazy for crying?

She’s a client as well.

One who’s been holding onto a very dark secret for far too many years. A secret she’s no longer willing to live with. A secret she shared with me. Again, impotent tears roam my pallid face.

And the one I’m supposed to be protecting?

Well, she won’t even protect herself. At the grand age of 14, she’s decided that life is a waste, bettering yourself, for chumps.

Am I crazy for trying?

Am I?

•••

Listen, I apologize if this one is all clunky and amateurish in nature. It’s just that here it is September already, and still 2012 continues to shit itself down the throats of my friends and loved ones. Shoving pain after pain into their lives while I sit idly by – a personally unaffected and powerless passenger on a bullshit scenic drive through the streets of Miserytown, population: too damned many.

And then Fay dropped “Crazy” by Patsy Cline as her latest song prompt, the very day I found out about one client, three days prior to other client’s unexpected and violent death. As one who seemingly can’t let any damned thing go, thoughts of these two brought to mind the other two. And the rage builds. The anger boils. The frustration, the God damned frustration… Part of me wants to fall down at His feet, and the other part wants to sucker punch Him in the gut. The 150 words laid down today aren’t a testament to Patsy’s lost love so much as they are an affirmation of her feeling like she’s crazy. Anyone who lets love in is crazy. But maybe crazy is the way to be. Maybe crazy is the sole path to salvation, the route to being reborn.

I don’t know, and to be honest, I’m not actually in the mood to care just now. Just now, all I want to say is “hey, Big Daddy Death and Uncle Devastation, fuck you. I’ve had enough of the both of you this year. Quite enough. Give it a rest already, will ya? Leave my friends alone. Leave my family alone. Just leave us alone.”

I’m terribly sorry about all the pissy posts as of late kids. I’ll try my best to find a better place, and write from there moving forward. For now here’s Patsy with “Crazy,” one of only (3) country performers I’ll ever admit to listening to on a regular basis…

Briefly…

I was upset with my phone this morning, as the song prompt it was playing kept gagging. But then I realized: my phone was playing a song prompt.

It wasn’t tethered to the kitchen wall nor adorned with a clunky roto-dial. No, it sat comfortably in my passenger seat as it played a video (no worries, I only listened) of this weeks prompt for the 100 Word Song challenge.

Speaking of, here’s this weeks 100 Word Song.

And don’t forget, you can grab the whole mess of it here.

Isn’t it odd, as times change and technology expands – instead of looking on in wonder, I’m more prone to become frustrated over the “brave new world’s” perceived inadequacies. Instead of relishing in the fact that my phone even plays music, I become frustrated that it can’t do so correctly.

(im)Possibilities

Looking up, I realized that the sky was impossibly blue, which as a phrase, is an utter and bold-faced lie. I mean if it were an impossibility, then my eyes would’ve never been caressed by the hue that they were in the first. Turns out, the blue of the sky was quite possible after all, despite any negative terminology I used to describe it.

This of course, could call into question a couple of things. First off, the idea of just what’s possible. Besides men giving birth – or my ever understanding the lure of shows like “Jersey Shore” – I see damned little on the human level that is impossible, and yet we’ve not accomplished quite a bit due to the concept’s existence. Could it be that everything is possible, and we only throw the little “im” bit in at the beginning to ensure that we never have to make it so? I’m none to sure. And neither are you or anyone else. Because in a world of possibilities, we find ourselves constantly strapped down with phrases like “it just isn’t done that way,” “it’s never been done before,” “I can’t see why it would work,” and of course, “it’s impossible.”

Not that I’ve all the experience required to make this next statement, but I’ve never really observed anyone put forth the effort required on anything (besides my ever understanding the lure of shows like “Jersey Shore”) to actually validate the impossibility of something. Even in my own life, when I found myself sitting at the airport – weeping over the fact that stupid weather and union pussy regulations were keeping me from spending time with friends I haven’t seen in something like a hundred years – getting there wasn’t actually impossible, I just deemed it to be so after looking at the logistics of the thing. “Impossible,” I’m thinking is a snow job we allow ourselves to get suckered into, every time we feel we’re too weak, unworthy of, or just don’t give a damn about a particular possibility. We don’t care enough – or feel as if we can – make the world better, so we say that any effort to do so would be “impossible.”

Which then leads me to my second “thing,” the power of words. The idea that by simply saying something, it must be true. This is most prevelent in politics and religion of course (and yes you atheists, I talking about you as well), but it also washes across our daily lives. I’m constantly blown away that simple words have such power. It’s sort of like the power of money, in that something of no worth is given high esteem. Of course, unlike money, words can have worth, if spoken from the heart. But so often they’re not.

I’ve a friend who calls me both a music and a word whore. Right on both counts, although I feel better about my musical whoredom. You see, lyrics notwithstanding, with music all we can do is build. By its very nature, music uplifts, creates, caresses and provides us with more at the end than we had at the beginning. Words do very much the same, but they can also be used to the opposite affect as well. Words can destroy. Words can abuse. Words can be twisted so that they spread hate, all while appearing to be spreading love. Words can – and do – tear us apart from each other, build up barriers between classes, and provide those gifted in intellect – but not soul – with endless ammunition with which to destroy their opponents. In short, words are dangerous. But then again, anything we hold power over is.  The difference between a person yielding a hammer and another yielding a pen however is that while the one with the hammer can only clobber one opponent at a time, the one with the pen can literally wipe out an entire race with just one little stroke.

So, when one who is gifted with words says that something is impossible, most-to all of us will be inclined to believe them, without ever first giving it a go ourselves to see if they’re correct in their assessment. Again, the world suffers, simply because someone somewhere decided that the logistics of the matter were just too much effort to actually make the idea a reality.

As for me, I’m tired of “impossible,” whether it be the color of the sky, or something loftier. I’m tired of being told that this, that and the other thing cannot be done, because it simply isn’t done in that fashion. I’m no Punk Rock Warlord, but I agree with Joe Strummer that I am stuck in my mouse trail – and maybe even you in yours – and it will only be when we crawl out of our impossible little ruts, that the Possible will be realized.

Sorry Mr. Como, but while it was a close call, in the final analysis the boys from Carter USM beat out your “It’s Impossible.”

Freedom, wealth and ocean views

“Retire Rich” was emblazoned firmly across the cover of the Fortune magazine I happened upon in the public restroom where I work. I didn’t read the article, in part because it’s a subject I don’t feel I’ll need to be “boning up on” any time soon, and more importantly, because – as I noted previously – it was residing in a public restroom. It’s hard enough for me to actually walk into one, let alone touch anything that happens to be lying about on the stall floor. Directly beneath the headline, there’s an image of a healthy, well-dressed white couple – far too young in appearance to be retired yet, if you ask me – standing on the bow of what appears to be a yacht, overlooking the ocean.

They’re rich. They’re retired. And they’re together. But alone. No one else is in the shot with this couple who’s far too young in appearance to be retired yet. And it bothers me that there isn’t. It bothers me that in the year 2012, we still find ourselves dealing with these snake oil salesmen. You see, I believe that the magazine didn’t just trail up and down the coast in search of a healthy, well-dressed, white, far-too-young-in-appearance-to-be-retired-yet-if-you-ask-me couple. I believe they very specifically chose whom they did, and they then plunked them down in the exact spot needed, to best serve the magazine’s goals. Now I won’t go off about the couple’s race, because I’m certain that Caucasians were only chosen because we seem to work best in seafaring settings. I will however, go off on several other items, but before we move on – a quick digression first:

I said “Caucasian” on purpose. As I for one, am sick and tired of having to be so careful as to what name I use when addressing other races, yet when in regards to us, plain old “white,” still works just fine. For the record, I’m not white – I’m Polish-American. Polish-bald and slightly overweight with a panache for music appreciation-American, if you’re being specific.

OK, back on topic. I was trying to make a link between the magazine and snake oil salesmen because after all these years, there are folk out there still trying to sell us on the idea of eternal youth. Of happiness through wealth. Of – well – apparently owning the damned ocean’s view, by mere fact of financial independence. I mean, what gives? I’m no Rockefeller, and I’m still allowed to take a peek at the ocean if I want. True, I can’t do it from the bow of a yacht, but it’s still there for me. And that I guess, is the part of the cover that bothers me most. Had the couple been trapped in the surroundings of wealth one normally associates with the stinkin’ rich, I think I would have felt better (or at least not noticed as much) about their being far too young in appearance to be retired yet. But with the ocean setting, it almost seems as if the magazine is saying that the wealthy are freer than the rest of us. Freer than us poor working stiff-types. Free enough to take ownership of what is free already. And that sort of pisses me off. Not because it’s a lie, but because it’s simply not true.

You see, I believe “freedom” is a lot like “wealth,” in that both are concepts very subjective to the beholder. While I can acknowledge that the rich have more goods and products, I can’t see whereas that makes them wealthier than I. And while they may have more time to spend with these goods and products, I can’t see where that then equates to true freedom. To me, true freedom doesn’t have a price tag, but true freedom does cost you everything you own. I know, I’m starting to make less and less sense – right? Let’s see if this works to help clear things up – being able to spend a week in Disneyland, while providing me with a certain amount of freedom, doesn’t make me free. Eventually I must return from my momentary freedom, and work to save up for the next time. Conversely, volunteering with the Peace Corps most assuredly removes every shred of freedom you may have previously enjoyed, but at the same time, it frees you wholly from the existence the rest of us find ourselves trapped in. And not only that, it betters you – frees you to accomplish even more. The time you spend away from worrying about “retiring rich,” allows you to come back a much richer person in the balance. One who will be glad to forego retirement altogether, to focus instead on the pursuit of Life.

Now, I’m not saying that I have ever volunteered for the Peace Corps (or have been to Disneyland for that matter), but I feel as if I have tried to use the opportunities provided to me in my time, to carry on with that sort of a spirit. As I’ve told my children – when I die, God is going to have a LOT of questions for me, but how much money I made is not gonna be one of them. I truly believe that (both parts, by the by), and I wish more people felt the same. I wish that those rich couples would stop staring at the damned ocean from the safety of their yacht and jump in with the rest of us. There’s a lot we could accomplish if we did so collectively. But apart, all that results is a small few on yachts, and the rest of us treading water. Building their yachts for them, as they sail along carefree, right over us.

So, is this just a poor person rant against the rich? Could be, I suppose. But I hope it’s not, and hope even more so that it is not perceived in that vein. I would never tell a rich person to give to the poor what they have worked “so hard” for. But I would invite the rich to stop working so hard for only themselves. It is that very ideology that drives us ever onward to tearing ourselves apart as a species. The very thing that ensures that we will never reach our full potential.

OK, I guess I’m done now, but I do feel as if before I clamber down from my soapbox that I should mention – hey you people living on welfare? You know, the ones who do it just to avoid having to actually work for a living? Yeah, that goes for you too. Let’s all work together, stop making yachts, and start making room at the ocean side for everyone to catch a glimpse, OK? I promise that if we do, then we can all retire rich.

Adventures In Paradise

You know, you’ve been pretty jaded this week.

I know, I know. I’m just feeling selfish I guess, put upon.

Yeah, well you had better shake it off pally. It’s not exactly like you’ve got it bad or anything.

From the outside, I get what you’re saying. But sometimes, from deep within, it does feel that bad. Sometimes, it feels like dying. I feel lost, and ashamed of myself for being so.

So, basically what you’re telling me then, is that you’re having for yourself a pity party?

I suppose.

But didn’t your dad always tell you to just “walk it off?”

Well, yeah. But that response seems too car-blanche. Far too easy.

Because it is.

So what’s the answer then?

You know the answer. You’ve had it in your noodle the whole while. You’ve even offered it as advise to others who have been in pain. “When you can walk it off, do. But when you can’t, rest up first. Have yourself a good cry. Get well. And then walk.”

So you didn’t have that meeting that you were so cock-sure would change your life. So what? So you don’t understand why the meeting was scheduled in the first place, had J.C. truly had your back. Again, so what? Remember when you used to read to your children? They didn’t know what the words were, but you did. And even though they couldn’t read along, they still cuddled up close to you, they trusted you. And the story was still told. So now you once again find yourself illiterate to Life’s ways. Big whoop. Just sit in J.C.’s lap, let him read to you.

It’s that easy?

Of course it’s that easy. And that’s precisely why it’s so damned hard.

It is hard. Impossible at times.

Can I do this?

You have been all along. Just because you’re not listening doesn’t mean he’s not reading – the story is told, with or without your active participation. Dude, it’s just life. You’re not the first, and you’re not the last (and if I might add, you’re for damned sure not the prettiest!) to go through it. So, buck up lil’ pony, and walk it off. Or rest until you can. You know, your mom has had some pretty cool catch phrases as well…

You’re talking about her infamous “this too shall pass,” I would assume?

Yep. And yes, it will. In the end, it all will. In the end your career will have been just that. Just something you did to fill the hours and pay the bills, a mere footnote on your resume for Life Eternal. In the end, C’s health will be no better or worse for all your fretting. And your life together will not benefit from your inability to be patient and/or simply roll with the punches. In the end every last person you’ve lost along the way will be found again. In the end, J. C. will close the book – only to open a new one – and hopefully you’ll have learned to read at least a couple of the words by then, you know?

Yeah, I know.

Good. Now, do something for me. Do something different this week. I know you usually like to write in silence. I know you feel as if it makes you a stronger writer (trust me kid, it don’t). But just this once, write while you’re burning some of your old crappy vinyl over to MP3 instead. For this post, plug in your earphones, and write while the docile tones of your “South Sea Island Music” box set laps up against your brain. Do it, and see if you can’t end this week on a high note, OK?

OK. I will.

And hey, thanks.

My pleasure. You and I are the bestest of friends, you know. And it does my heart good to see you smiling. I love you man.

I love you too.

Good. Remember that.