8/24 unwelcome visitors and Candymen

A most unwelcome visitor came to me last night. One that i haven’t seen in quite some time – and one that i would be simply thrilled to never have to see again.

It begins as it always does – with my bladder gently yet urgently nudging me awake, after feeling neglected for what it thinks is far too long. Rising in a stupor (only after realizing that the task of ignoring it further is just not going to work in either of our favors), i go to the restroom and provide it with the “quality time” it feels is deserving. And then It hits.

Now, i don’t know what exactly “It” is, but it’s there. Standing directly behind me, in front of me, all around me. And it means me grevious harm. i just know it – i can almost feel it’s hot and bloody breath upon my neck – it’s eyes boring into my very soul. It means to not only destroy me, but any memory of me as well. It wants to decimate me, grounding my very existence into the floor. And the worst part is i know that it can.

So much so, that at the age of 42, i still find myself running from the bathroom, eyes shut tight and being careful to avoid looking directly in the mirror. i blindly run down the stairs like a frightened four year old – risking a broken neck in the process – simply to get to the relative safety of my and C’s bed. C sleeping gently through the experience. After several minutes of very close snuggling with her, i finally find myself free of the god-awful fear that recently gripped me, so forcibly as to make me abandon my good senses. Eventually, i fall back to sleep.

Now, i do realize how ridiculous this may sound to the average observer, but to me (in the moment that it takes place at any rate) it’s very real. And much like Carter USM once sang “like many a nut job before him, he thought he was the son of God. And like many a nut job before him, maybe he really was.”, i sometimes almost think that just maybe It is really real. Which scares me even more – for if this “It” is a real something or other, then it must think i’m something worth its destroying. And if i’m something worth destroying, then that implies that i am more valuable then i care to attest to. And if i’m valuable, then that just won’t work well with the low self-esteem i seem to pride myself on. And – well, i’m sure you can walk down the rest of the road i’m headed in without my actually boring you with the details. Suffice to say, if it is real, i’m in a whole other ball of wax.

i have had friends and loves tell me of seeing angels and demons, and shadowy men in dark suits that say nothing – and i believe them, seeing as they are all smart people, who believing it themselves, have no need to lie or fabricate – let alone tell a tale that would potentially diminish their good standing in lieu of enhancing it. That being said, i don’t believe that my particular “It” really exists anywhere other than in my mind – especially the late night mind that is unguarded and not nearly drunk enough to sleep through the protests of a somewhat spoiled bladder. As such, it is still very much an “It” that needs to be dealt with. The question is how?

Do i make light of it? i’ve tried something similar many times in the past, and it has met with a certain amount of success. The best example i suppose i could give would also deal with monsters, but of a different variety. As a youngster, i had the bad habit of trying to be “a man” in a effort to impress my dad. As such, we would watch horror movies, and i would accordingly have the bejesus scared out of me for months afterwards. And i mean months. And by the way, these “horror” flicks were of 50’s vintage, black and white and overall just plain silly (yeah, i was badass). Regardless, after watching several, i had a nice mental army of monsters built up in my imagination, always there and always on the search for a way to, if not outright destroy me (and possibly even eat my head), then at least make my life a living hell.

They were constantly with me in my minds eye, and there were very few places i could go to be in peace from them, one of which was the bathroom (he says as he starts to see potential dots connect…). Then one day it hit me. Instead of running to the bathroom to escape them, i should invite them in with me instead. Surely a sign of friendship such as this might win them over.  And (not) surprisingly enough, it did!  For a spell, they still followed me around, but now as friends (well, acquaintances at any rate) instead of enemies. And one by one they slowly disappeared, fading to obscurity. And i again “grew in strength and wisdom”.

So, is this It just one final monster? One of my own making, that occasionally tries to pull me back into being that scared little kid again? Or is maybe that scared little kid actually still somewhere deep inside of me, pretending to be a big bad It to scare my slightly-more-sober-than-i-care-to-be mind? And if so, could it all be in a effort to “keep me in my place”, maybe out of fear that i might some day realize my full potential, thus forcing “It” into oblivion?

Quite honestly, i couldn’t give a shit anymore. i’m too damned old for these games or to figure out who or what is behind them – and i feel as if next time It visits, i will tell it exactly as much.

Wish me luck.

7/28 SKAturday!

The first time i heard Ska music, what i heard wasn’t actually Ska.

Well, i mean it was – just not the type that the traditionalists would have you believe Ska should be thought of as.

Now, i’m Quite sure that every single person on the planet knows full well what Ska music is, but just in case there are a couple of stragglers out there, a brief description follows:

Ska music was invented in Jamaica during the late 1950’s in an effort to provide local fans and musicians with a homegrown version of American R&B. The genre got it’s name supposedly from the sound made to describe the back beat associated with it. And for many, The Skatalites are credited with inventing it, or at least bringing this form of music to national attention, with hits such as “Guns of Navarone”. Though many (including The Beatles and Blondie) have dabbled in it, there are usually three main “waves” considered when discussing its history – “Jamaican” (or First Wave), 2 Tone (part of the 70’s punk movement) and Third Wave (also known as Skacore). Ska was the precursor to Reggae music, and like many other musical genres, the child has grown to be much bigger than the father ever was.

OK? Good, now back to my story.

My first time hearing it was with a little known band called Fishbone. In my mind, these cats pretty much invented Skacore (thought they never received much credit for it), and their brand of Ska was fast, obnoxious, angry, loud and overall – delightful.

i can’t remember what song i heard first (i have narrowed it down to “Wonderful Life” and “Party At Ground Zero” though), but i do remember the impact it had on me. It was the first time i ever heard something of its kind. All the elements that i loved about punk rock – the anger, the cool hair, the bad fashion, the indignation and the pride – but with a beat. An actual, honest-to-Jesus beat!

Piss and vinegar and the ability to dance – cool!

As is with most things, my addictive personality pushed me onward to discovering more about Ska and experiencing more of the music it had to offer. i became quite the aficionado of all three “waves” and now have (2) binders worth of the genre (that’s right, i keep my CD’s in a series of binders. But THAT is a whole other story to be told…).

Ska has helped me to get through some pretty tough times in my life – both because of it’s happy beat and the way in which it can be used to totally bitch about something and get it off your chest without demoralizing you in the process. And based on what i’ve heard from those who enjoy the genre along with me (there’s more of us out there than you’d think) – it has had the same positive impact for many. In fact, a good friend just told me yesterday “Ska is also very good to listen to when painting.” And i can attest – while not to be confused with one of the “tough times” i speak of above – it also helps in making the chore of ironing almost a breeze.

On rare occasion (and by “rare occasion”, i mean once every couple of weeks) i will get it into my head, upon waking up on a Saturday, to open one of my Ska binders and slide 5 choice discs into the carousel.

i hit play, and wait for the first “ska-ska-ska’s” to come gently strolling out from the speakers, knowing that when they do, i will shortly thereafter hear at least four people shout in unison “Oh NO!  Not ANOTHER flippin’ Skaturday!