I came to a pretty shocking conclusion today while sitting in the back of a cop car: I’ve grown a little too accustomed to the sweet life. I’ve indulged, lately...I’ve gotten doughy and lethargic enough to be considered basically inert, and my once fiery temper has completely exploded, creating a heretofore-unapproachable level of fury that has my mouth saying things that are going to get my ass killed; even I’m appalled at what’s coming out of my mouth, and I usually adore everything that I say. Take this morning, for instance: upon figuring out that I was fenced in on all sides by a marathon of some sort, my initial thoughts of, "wow, that’s great; I wish I could run a marathon", were quickly replaced with pangs of uncontrollable anguish at the traffic-cop who was less directing traffic and more stopping anyone in a motor-vehicle from moving. So, after turning off my car, I got out and asked him why. "Why what?" "Why am I not allowed to get to the highway?" "Marathon." "Yes, I see that; what I don’t, or didn’t, see are signs telling me that I should have prepared myself for a half-hour wait, or signs detailing some sort of detour to avoid this ridiculous mess." "Please go back to your car, sir." "When you’ve decided to wave me through, I’ll gladly go back to my car...but as it stands, I see about a hundred runners coming down the road here, and you still haven’t told me about the lack of proper signage." "If you won’t go back to your car, sir, we’ll put you in mine." "Was it a lapse in judgment, the lack of signs? I mean, it’s not like this was some spontaneous 'jog-off' here." "That’s it - get in the car." With an escort, I got into the back of the cruiser under my own power; as I waited for someone to come talk to me, I realized that I was aiming my frustrations in the wrong direction - not in this case, but in general. An older officer arrived to find me deep-breathing in the musky aroma known only to the back-seats of cruisers and taxi-cabs. With a smile, I said: "Surely, there’s a better way to go about this." "You could have stayed in your vehicle." "I don’t mean this, I mean drivers getting pigeonholed into an intersection with a concrete-median down the middle that prevents any kind of u-turn." "The Boxing Day marathon happens every year, using the same route, and you should have thought about that before you left the house." "Y’know what? Streets get closed every year too, but there are signs that say 'do not fucking enter' before you get to a big pothole and then thrown in the back of a cop car. Well, they don’t say that exactly, but you get my point." "Officer Grabel is just doing his job." "Do you find it funny that there is a marathon benefiting the heart & stroke foundation going on around hundreds of cars that are pumping noxious gasses into the air?" "Not particularly, but I see your point." "I’d say I’m sorry about picking on you guys for decisions that aren’t yours, but I’ve served many a burned hamburger in my day and it‘s not I could just grab the cook during the dinner rush to explain himself to the customer...well, I did that once, but it was a special occasion." "I’ll pass on your complaint." I know he was just paying me lip service, and that’s when it hit me: this clown isn’t going to have a coronary over something like this - I, however, am if I keep jumping out of my car and working myself into a lather over inconsequential bullshit. Either way, I was totally zen once I finally made it through...what does that mean?
It is now, officially-speaking, X-Mas. I am celebrating with a can of Coke and a cigarette; the girlfriend and puppies are celebrating by sleeping, and they are doing so, by the looks of things, soundly. I gave my employers a three-month window to replace me, a window that will be shutting come January 5th, a window through which they’ll be watching me ride off into a sunset of complete and utter joblessness. With equal parts ignorance and bravado, I’m going to try writing...for money. I have no prospects, no connections, no clue...but I do have a novel I’m working on called, "I Will Kill and Eat Chaos", and I’m ready to join the galaxy of frustrated novelists who believe that the world owes them something, that through a combination of sheer talent and breathtaking originality money will start overcrowding their mailbox like maggots on a kitty-cat-carcass, that if the book tanks it will be because those reading it lack "vision" and certainly not because it sucks. So, if you happen to be in the publishing business, in any capacity, beware that knocking on your door...it’s me, and I’m ready for you fuckers. You’d better be ready for me.
The entirety of my adult life has been spent assuming that 95% of the people I’m going to meet are going to be assholes on a sloping, gradient scale from mousy & passive-aggressive to bitter & unwaveringly idiotic. If this past year of teaching has taught me nothing else, however, it’s that dealing within the age group of 16-23 (for the most part) produces almost the exact opposite results. Does this mean that my assumptions are wrong? No, sir...it means that what people allow age to do to them is wrong. Everyone but the youthful will tell you that youth is good (and young’uns will tell you that too, but without resonance; indeed, what in the world do they have to compare to?), but forget to mention that aging is fun, too. Sure, the body is breaking down, and it takes more to spark the imagination because it’s been exposed to almost everything at least once...but now the stories you tell have a legendary quality to them: I remember when I could, only six years ago, lift a gigantic spool of cable that weighed twice what I do over my head and onto a loading dock - this story has now graduated to spool after spool of high-density steel-ribbon thrown like sacks of feathers onto the eight-foot-high, sharpened-edge of a platform guarded by Cerberus and a wall of fire while dodging exploding bullets shot from a wall-mounted, motion-activated tommy-gun. I was so fast I raced myself driving a car and I won; I was so clever I took half of Hell from Satan in a poker-game; my eyes were so good I could watch the earth rotate; my hands were so good that I could catch you falling asleep... The only thing more fun than doing something rad is telling someone how rad it was. Every story told is in the past - it’s just a matter of how far away you allow it to be. Young people know this, but end up getting it squeezed out of them by responsibility & "maturity" once they hit 30, and it’s a shame.
How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were? -Satchel Paige
Don’t allow the linearity of time dictate your age - punch a clock, literally; take your time back.
"Well, aren’t you full of holiday cheer!" I’m ALWAYS full of holiday fucking cheer, year motherfucking ‘round, and it’s a goddamned shame that I seem to be alone in that regard. Honestly, you’re unlikely to find a more polite, understanding human being on the planet than me in my capacity as "customer" because I’ve had many of those "customer-service" jobs and they suck, so I empathize. But to assume that because I’m nice during the month of December strictly because "‘tis the season" is not just incredibly patronizing, but also a reminder that come Jan. 1, everyone else will go back to hating their lives, trying to lose those fifteen pounds, and treating others with the disdain I usually reserve only for those who’ve wronged me in an outright fashion...it’s bunk. Bunk I say! A thought: what if instead of wishing each other a "merry fucking x-mas" (as I do, constantly), we shorten it to "merry fucking"...go get yourself some and call it a holiday. That’s something I could get behind, if you know what I’m saying.
I see marriage the same way that I see breast-augmentation surgery: good when it’s going well, inescapable without lawyers and whole lot of hassle when it’s not. I don’t believe in marriage, much to my girlfriend’s chagrin; all her friends tell her that I’ll "change my mind" eventually, that I’ll give in to societal/family pressures and "do the right thing"...but, unfortunately, this will not be the case. Ever. A side-story to illustrate: basketball was my life in high-school, and when I jumped to the senior team, the preferred hazing ritual was the shaving of a mohawk (before they were cool) or a friar-tuck into the rookies’ heads...hearing this, and looking at my luxurious mane of shoulder-length hair, I went home. Soon enough, there was a ring at my doorbell; my buddy Mike, hair all fucked up, stood on my porch with a senior member of the team and asked me to come back on the coach’s behalf. I told them I wasn’t getting myhead all fucked up, and the senior guy, after a pause, said, "you DO NOT have to worry about that." Back at practice, sitting with the coach and getting glares that could melt steel from everyone on the team, I was asked if I wanted to be the starting point guard...and I spent the rest of my illustrious high-school career that way. The team couldn’t freeze me out (usually done by not passing the ball to the offending player) because, being the point guard, I always had the ball. There was a grand "everyone-who-ever-went-to-my-high-school" reunion the year after, and when the older players came back to see that I had shaved my head of my own volition, I think it broke at least two of their brains; the others were livid. They would tell me how much shit they took for even attempting to shave my head, and I would say, "that’s what you get for being assholes," and laugh at them like they had their collective ass-hair caught in a mousetrap. The point, if there is one in this mucky puddle of nostalgia & sanctimony, is that the harder one pushes, the harder it’s going to come back. House, kids, monogamy? Cool. The antiquated, unnecessary, superfluous tradition of marriage? Nope; not even once. You can see, clearly, why I've been fighting girls off with a pointy stick...
I am a baseball fanatic. The Toronto Blue Jays have been my team since I knew what a team was, and though it was time & geographical convenience that brought us together (we’re the same age, the Jays and I, and I’ve lived an hour from Toronto for most of my natural life), it’s clear-eyed understanding that pulled us apart. I herby disavow the Toronto Blue Jays. There are a plethora of reasons for my desertion, but let’s just say that the cut-fastball that broke the bat-handle of my loyalty was the signing of David Eckstein, a perennially sub-par, hilariously mediocre shortstop who throws from the hole like an eight-year-old, relegating John MacDonald and his brilliant glove-work to the bench. Granted, Johnny Mac pops out hits as frequently as Rick Astley at this point, but that’s what the number nine spot in the order is for: the all-mitt, no-stick shortstop who makes plays in the field that leaves even the most jaded sports fan yelling at the TV for a replay. So, I go forth into the 2008 season teamless for the first time in my memory...and just so everyone understands the severity of my disgust, I am canceling my cable package; no more cartoon network, no more comedy, food, or discovery channels, no more Blue Jays. Sigh; breaking up is hard to do.
coffee stains my teeth
nicotine stains my lungs
Tom Waits stains my ears
i could abstain...
i would complain
anger bruises my face
ideas get loose
ideas to lose
ideas to bruise my mind
i will complain some more
into the last hours of December
not to forget,
but to remember