Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The East Side of the City

   Loneliness and disparation are fiends that can strike at any time. They sank their fangs deep into me while I was sitting in a café one evening, surrounded by friends, warm drinks, and pastries. I was struck by the fact that I could not sit there one moment longer. I put my share of the bill on the table and departed and just kept walking. Happy stories don't always have substance, sad ones don't always have reason. Sometimes its hard to tell the difference.

  I walked with purpose, but without direction. Unconsciously I walked towards the Eastern side of the city, looking for something, maybe a release of some kind. I walked and walked, foot after foot on the pavement, earbuds in my ears dutifully playing music. In the distance the sun was beginning its descent below the mountain ranges that surrounded the city. Without warning I came upon a stone obelisk stretching towards the sky. It was surrounded by a playground. I decided to sit beside the obelisk and take a break. I think I switched artists or songs on my ipod, but I cannot remember whom from or to. I sat there, trying to catch my breath, trying to decide if the loneliness had abated at all or the restless anger that had become my shadow since leaving the café. I looked out at the city and inward at myself and still felt lonely and angry so I continued onward. The streets continued at an upward slant with concrete staircases snugly fit between alleyways. I saw a wooden vantage point overlooking the city and decided that would be my goal.

  Before arriving at the vantage point I stopped at the tienda to buy a large bottle of water. The shopkeeper was a very nice woman, she had been talking to a man just outside the shop as I approached. I asked her for a water and as she went to find it, the man outside the store put out his hand and introduced himself. I told him my name and where I was from when he asked. He seemed to be having a slight bit of trouble standing as he swayed back and forth, but for a moment he steadied himself as best as he could and clapped a hand on my shoulder and pointed between his eyes and mine and said to me in Spanish, "Remember this". Then he held out his hand to shake again, which I did. It was a strange and singular encounter. I took my water and waved to the man and the shopkeeper.

  I reached the vantage point and looked out at the stretching city with its endless array of houses, buinesses, bakeries with fresh breads, and beautiful churches. Down the road from where I was standing a large school was letting out and parents were picking up children carrying dioramas and colorful projects. I felt okay. I felt less lonely.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Autumn Evening in November

   Sitting at the coffee shop I had a unique moment or maybe it was very normal, but either way it actually occurred. I sat down to a table by the window so I could watch the cars go by and the sun finish setting, leaving the sky dark blue and full of clouds. The coffee shop was maybe half full, at best. Behind me sat a few high school girls talking about high school things. They seemed to be enjoying each other's company, telling little stories and laughing intermittently. A thin middle aged man came to the counter and ordered a tea for a his sore throat. He said he hoped it would help since he was on his way to coach high school varsity basketball so he needed his voice at full power.

 The real gem of the evening were the three elderly seniors talking by the fireplace. I'm not sure if they were three old friends, or a small club or three people who had fallen to the fate of Rip Van Winkle and were trying their best to piece together how the world had changed. The slightly portly gentleman and the gray haired-smiling woman sat in adjacent armchairs and the taller man with an arching forehead sat on the edge of the fireplace holding council over their little gathering.

  The taller man would say something like, "Now canned goods, that's the real ticket. With cans there's no expiration date, or if there is, it doesn't come for a long, long time. Saves you a lot of time worrying if something's gone bad or not. Mhmm, cans are real good, least that's what I say."

  Then the others would nod or murmur in agreement. The more portly gentleman might have added, "My favorite is Cream of Mushroom soup because its one of the few things I can still stand to put pepper on. I've always liked a bit of pepper from time to time."

  "Oh pepper! That's a real fine thing.", the taller man might reply, "You ever make yourself eggs? Maybe on a Sunday morning? Add a little pepper there; that's real nice"

  The portly man mumbled that he did enjoy eggs, but his stomach couldn't handle pepper on them anymore.

"Sometimes the hardest thing is eating healthy these days", The gray haired woman said from her armchair.

  "I hardly ever drink soda, you know.", boasted the man sitting on the fireplace.

"Because it doesn't taste very good?"

     "No, that's not it at all! Have you had a soda recently? Wow, they sure are tasty! But they're just carbonated water and sugar, that can't be healthy."

Again they all nodded and said, "That sure is true."

  The man with the high forehead, sitting by the fireplace continued, "Well to be honest, my real weak spot is cream cheese. My, oh my, it sure is good. I can go through a whole pound of cream cheese before the expiration date, I sure can. That date comes fast too! Somthing like five days after you buy it, but when I buy cream cheese, its always gone by that date. You know what, tonight when I go home I think I might have some cream cheese on crackers for dinner."

  "Just crackers and cream cheese and nothing else?", the gray haired woman asked

"Yep, just crackers and the cream cheese."

    "No preparation there at least.", the gray haired woman ventured.

They probably talked about some other things, but they didn't stay much longer. I thought the three of them were just great. Sitting there, somberly, happily talking about such little things as if discovering them for the first time and discussing the merits of these simple things.

The Tallest Man On Earth
Love is All

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Straight Into the Water

You dropped me
straight into the water,
you left me
in the middle of the sea,
'Fore you left me
you said
"Don't talk to the otters:
you said,
"just don't touch them ponies"

Or that's what I thought
I heard,
but it might have
 been something like
blub blub,
blub blub blub blub,
It was hard to hear
 your voice from
  beneath the waves

Now if you did say
ponies in fact,
I have to say,
I don't quite
know what you meant
All the sea-horses are
downright cordial
and the small ones
seem to be made
 of nothing but pure whimsy

Maybe you said Hippos
instead of ponies
now the hippo on the other hand get downright moody
and some days
they're more than a little angsty.
A Hippo tantrum
is no small load to bear

The otters, though
sly and playful,
have never once
led me astray

You dropped me
straight into the water
you left me,
but perhaps
I should be glad

Walk the Moon

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bucket of Productivity

"Simon...I think you know why we're here having this little chat. You don't want to be here-"

   Simon made a move to object.

    "-No, no its fine. You have things you'd rather be doing with your time and so do I. Simon, Simon, Simon...just what are we going to do with you? These past few months your productivity was, how shall we say this? To be blunt it was not good Simon. It makes me sad, because you see, I like to think of our little operation here as a tightly run ship. When one of us isn't pulling their weight that ship isn't quite as tightly run anymore, is it?"

                  Simon shook his head.

  "Good. We both want this 'ship' of ours to run smoothly. Now how 'bout we make ourselves a deal?"

"Mom, how about you lay off Simon a little?", said Simon's older sister Liz from the kitchen where she was cooking, "I get that he's been a bit irresponsible lately, but the mobster schtick isn't doing anyone any good. He's ten years old, lighten up."

  Simon, who had been utterly downcast and withdrawn like a sulky cat left out in the rain overnight, sparked up just a little at his sister's words of defense.

 Their mother cleared her throat sheepishly, "I'm sorry Simon, sometimes it just seems hard to get through to you. Maybe your father and I watched the Sopranos and The Godfather series too many times when the two of you were little instead of reading parenting books. Where was I? Oh right, well we still need to do something to try to get you back on track. I've got an idea for a rewards system we can try. We'll take this bucket here." She motioned to her left.

   "It's a sand-pail, Mom.", Simon ventured.

"Ah, so it is! Okay we'll take this sand-pail then and every time you do something good we'll put a quarter in the pail. If you come to dinner the first time I call or brush your teeth before bed, that's a quarter."

   "Only a quarter for everything? What about if I do something really good?"

His mother smiled, "Now you're thinking Simon. If you do something outstanding, like getting an A on a project or test then we'll add a dollar to the pail. But if you slip up, that will be a deduction of 50¢ from the pail. How's this sound?"

   "Sounds good Mom!"

"Okay then, we'll put the pail on the side table here. Now why don't you go see if your sister will be nice enough to make you a sandwich."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Five Dresses

Tried on five dresses
'fore you threw em
to the ground
Tried on five dresses
but they don't fit you no more

It's okay
cuz you lost weight
at least that's what
you said

I'm gonna drive out west
and start a band
soon as I find
a beat to break my heart

I'm just a legend
that forgot how to cry
I'm just a legend
running out of time

Tried on five dresses
'fore you threw em
to the ground
Tried on five dresses
But they don't fit no more

I'm just an imaginary friend
that you forgot about
but still believe in somehow

Hot Chip
How Do You Do?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Misshapen Words

My ears, Oh, my ears are ringing
my ears, they're red
so red from all
the bloody things
that you've said

I'm worried sick about you
my honey dear, 
because I love you
and I just want you safe
But they are going
to take you away

My ears, oh! they're ringing
from top to lobe
my ears are so red
from all these
bloody and dangerous
words you've been saying

Can't you see that I'm scared?
I want you here with me, 
and I know they're gonna
take away your sweet
righteous voice,
gonna take you away

But what exactly does
safety mean anymore?
You ask me
when we're living like this
through thin walls and underground
barely alive, but still breathing
what does safety mean anymore?

My ears are red
from all the things 
all the stupidly 
dangerous things
that I never had
the courage to say

Where, oh where are you now,
my honey dear?
Have they taken you away?
I do not know
All I have left
is this ringing
in my oh so red ears...

Two notes, a) I wrote the above with in mind a soulful/bluesy Otis Redding type beat in mind. b) the video below by Walk Off the Earth was shot in one take, but then edited so that we are seeing things slightly out of order. I think I'm doing a bad job of explaining it, but its a really cool video, check it out.

Walk Off the Earth
Red Hands

Monday, November 5, 2012


  There are gunshots ringing out from the churchyard and certainly not for the first time this week, nor the last. Benjamin the grave-keeper has been vigilant since the 22nd, since the day the shamblin' started. When the dead come back their muscles have atrophied a good deal so they walk like a man with his legs asleep getting out of a car on a long road trip. They shamble, that's what we've decided to call it and so then they are Shamblers.

  Half the town has left in search of some unblighted paradise, but really they're only kidding themselves. It is happening here and it is sure as hell happening everywhere else. All the major media conglomerates are off the air. Some have left up scrawled placards that say "Hope to resume broadcasting soon!", or "Stay Safe, Crush the Shamblers!" as if we were all just rooting against a hated sporting team. But in a strange way perhaps that's exactly what it is like. Perhaps our culture of rivalry in the sports arena has prepared us for this more than anything else..

  The White House has started a bizarre campaign of rounding up all the cellphone numbers and workable land line numbers they have on record and calling people up. They aren't using prerecorded messages either, its genuine, honest to god people talking to each and every one of us. Its certainly refreshing. They are telling each person that they are doing everything in their now slightly more limited power to help the nation right now. The White House is saying that training centers are being set-up in city centers. And these training centers are actually quite effective. They teach you how to make a home generator from salvageable parts. They're teaching cooking and knitting and various household tasks. They're showing every way known to man of how to purify water. And everyone who comes in is given a brief tutorial on hand-to-hand combat as well as marksmanship with everything from throwing knives to bows. The government has also restarted the ancient use of a Pony Express, they are men and women riding on horseback from town to city to village checking on the statuses of everyone. The idea here was that horses would be cheap to fuel and so long as they don't get spooked they can outrun most threats.

   But I have to reiterate, here Benjamin is doing a phenomenal job containing the outbreaks and we've been able to take care of any remainders that shamble into town. We still have some power, we have hope, right now its a preparation and waiting game.

Of Monsters and Men
Mountain Sound

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Absurdity and Laughter

I broke down
onto the floor of your room
I let the tears
fall freely from my eyes until
I heard you say:

Who the Hell are you?
Why are you in my home?
Get the fuck outta here!

I looked up
to see you weren't Mary
I must have
let myself into
the wrong apartment

And so I ran
I beat the pavement,
I made no try at an explanation
As I got outside
I realized this
wasn't even the right block

I ran from the absurdity,
peels of laughter
following my footfalls

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Aftermath of Sandy

  On Monday night the winds and rains of Hurricane Sandy's wrath took their toll on the Cleveland area, leaving us without power for about 28 hours and without cable and internet for three days. Living without these everyday amenities was an adventure: my mother and I broke out every flashlight and scented candle we could find. We played scrabble in the near dark while sipping wine and whiskey and coke. The winds howled all through the night, like a pack of baying dogs or a masked man in a horror flick banging to gain entry. I was awoken at 4:40 in the morning, maybe the storm was lonely playing outside alone.

   Tuesday morning looked like another world. Sandy had gotten her claws into the neighbors'pine tree and ripped it out of the ground. The tip of the tree now lay on the ground pointing to the street-sign that had fallen from its home atop the stop sign. We took the dog for a walk and he was ecstatic about the weather outside, we couldn't understand it as he's usually scared of thunder storms and loud things. Well, there was no thunder and he is a Bearded Collie, and they were bred to watch the sheep in inclimate weather of the highlands, so I guess it makes sense. We went to Chipotle for lunch and ate in the car since we brought the dog so he  could enjoy the heat of the car with us. It was a nice field trip, but when we got back the house seemed twice as cold as when we had left. I bundled up in a nest of blankets and took a nap only to wake up with the power still out. My mom informed me that it had jolted on for five minutes, but went off again after a loud pop from down the street.

 We were about to lose hope for sustained warmth when the power came back on. I have rarely cherished heat so much. We "suffered" through another day and a half without cable or internet. I was overjoyed when the internet and cable came back, but I realized maybe I was happier in their absence. And really we were lucky, some people in the area still don't have power back on yet.

Dig Your Own Hole

and yes I still like Gotye