Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Worn Out Welcomes

I sometimes wonder what welcomes I have worn down, worn out over the years I have stacked up behind me. Blissful and ignorant, my Younger self stretched the limits of more than a few relationships, friendships. Blithely, and with no concern for what my actions might cause in others, I forged ahead with my agenda whatever it was or might become. I meant no harm, but invariably I still hurt some feelings over the years.

My Older self would like to imagine any pain I may have caused to be minor hits like we all take as we beat our way through the jungle from the cradle to our graves. I would guess that it is normal my older self would skim over the unpleasant times and dwell only on the good ones.

But would that be honest? Memories collected to make my youth look like some 1950s sitcom may be by themselves true. What about the filler, the moments and times in between I would just as soon forget? Rough times and ugly moments also left scars, imprints on what I was, what I became. I am nothing now but an accumulation of moments, good and bad.

Facing up to all of them is difficult. Some dark times I can only remember in pieces and parts. A facial expression…… Eyes filled with pain staring me down…. The way I felt when another's words cut me like a knife……. A ten second slice remembering my physical escape after hurting someone deep………… Or the ten seconds watching their backside fade into the sunset after they wrenched my guts out.

Remembering the pain can often leave me feeling better in the here and now. Even though I will sometimes wince internally when certain memories pass by, I notice now that I have come through them all without being bitter over the hurt caused me and only minor pangs of guilt still linger over the pain I caused in others. My list of regrets is actually rather short. And that makes me feel good.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ya Gotta Wet it!


I picked up this pre-owned CD for exactly $8.97. How Bull Moose Music determined that exact value, well, I guess it doesn't matter. With my frequent buyer card, I paid maybe $6. I bought it because any CD with a title that incorporated the word "Copulatin" and of course "Blues"........Well, how could I resist? Old school Jazz and Blues from the 1920s and 30s, maybe some from the 1940s. I dunno, they are old tunes, great tunes, and damn filthy tunes.

I'm not into porn sites, dirty mags, or XXX videos rented from the back room down to Don's Videos on Rte 236. But sing me a smutty song and I perk right up. I think it was my exposure to all the dirty Irish tunes my brother brought back from College in the early 1960s and managed to recall perfectly no matter how shit faced he was. Or maybe it was the heavy doses of Hawaiian music when I was but 5 years old watching nubile native girls move their hips in unnatural and sinful ways at the King Kamehameha Club while my parents got exuberant and sloppy, stumble back to the car and barely make it home on mixed drinks had to make an impression even on a small fry like I was. Music and sex were inseparable from then on. Even when I wasn't sure what sex was or could be.

And now, well, I'm still not sure. Music and sex are momentary instantaneous ecstasies I never feel when involved in day to day, one foot in front of the other drudgeries dealt with until I can come home and..........................Crank it............. or ..... Wet it.

Either one will blow my dress up.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child - A Retrospective

Trying my best to sidestep, skip over, or avert my eyes from the overwhelming amount of news items pointing up just how stupid our leaders are, I settled in on a news item regarding a Christian Fundamentalist couple who beat one of their children to death with a plastic pipe for mispronouncing a word.

There ya go Mike, something real yet bizarre. Right up my alley.

Seems this deeply religious couple got the idea from a fundamentalist group advocating corporal punishment as one of the many go to tools for parents to use in raising their children.

Don't get me wrong here. Or well, get me wrong, or get me right. You'll process what I write however you like.

I am ambivalent about corporal punishment. Corporal punishment that stops short of being outright abuse that is. However, there are two problems with corporal punishment.

1 - It is too easy for it to get out of hand when being implemented by an adult with anger control issues.

2- Used on the children that really deserve....well, it just doesn't work. I know. I was one of those children. Logic and grounding worked better on me than a good smack. Limiting my access to the free world made me think more than twice about screwing up in the future. All hitting me did was make me angrier.

I am old enough to have lived through corporal punishment when it was indeed a normal way to deal with punks and punkettes of the small fry kind. I personally felt the sting of various and legally sanctioned blows to my body as trouble making was all I wanted to do when I was young. I really enjoyed pissing off adults. And often, their anger took the form of a paddle, a rubber hose, a belt, or in the case of my dear departed mother, a well placed slap up side my head.

Thankfully, both of my parents had their anger mostly under control. I was never hit unless I deserved and then expected it. My dad stopped pulling out his belt about the time I was in fourth grade when I was in one of my "I hate Mom" periods. I remember it well. I had done something serious enough that Mom said, "Wait until your father gets home young man. Go to your room." I sat in my room reading a book calmly waiting for the "punishment". By that point in my life, I actually looked forward to a few butt smacks with the belt. It beat being grounded.....Hands down.

So Dad comes home after a hard day at the office. I hear a heated discussion downstairs. "I don't know what we are going to do with that boy. You have to take care of it. I am at my wit's end." Mom is so angry, she passed it off on Dad. So Dad comes upstairs and begins "the ritual".

"The Ritual" always went down the same way. By the age of 8 I knew what was coming. First "the talk". Then came the rationalizing for the punishment. Finally, the 3 or 4 smacks with his belt. I muster up some tears and it was over. Easy Peasy. Life went back to normal.

Only this time I don't cry. I sat back down on the bed next to my father and glare at him. He looked at me for a moment and said something to the effect, "Well, I guess the belt is not going to work anymore, is it?"

Still glaring at him, I say, "Nope." So ended the physical punishment handed down by my parents. Oh, my mom still got some blows in, but they were wake up and pay attention blows that came out of the blue. Attention getters and nothing I would consider abuse.

I still had to contend with the publicly and legally sanctioned corporal punishment dished out in the various schools I attended prior to college. Besides the numerous wrist slaps and back of the head wake me ups, I was beat with a paddle in two different schools in Florida. The vice principal at John Hanson Jr High in Oxen Hill, Maryland paddled me very hard once when he caught me and another fool trying to cut class. But the worse beatings I received came when I went to military school in high school. Capt. Dimaggio had a rubber hose he called "Willy Whack". If you pissed him off in his class, he would say, "Macrum, two minutes after class with Willy Whack." If you really pissed him off, it could mean 4 minutes with Willy. His routine was what I would call true abuse. He would set up at one end of his class while I set up at the other end. He would say, "Now" and begin chasing me around the class while swinging that hose as hard as he could. And he was quick and wiry. Let me tell you, that damn hose hurt. It left welts that did not go away overnight.

Once I became an officer as a senior, he never threatened me with it again. But he would use it on other cadets, younger cadets. I had him for study hall as a senior. His arbitrary use of that hose for the slightest infraction always pissed me off. One day he went after a Prep (7th or 8th grader) after class. I hung around outside the classroom door. When I thought the poor kid had had enough, I went in and took the damn hose away from him. I received 50 demerits for insubordination.

And guess what? Those demerits and some 100 more I received that year meant I had to get more whacks the day before I graduated if I was going to graduate as a first lieutenant and not the buck private I had been busted down to. The whacks were dispensed by "the Colonel", the commandant of the school. The Colonel had the paddling thing down. He always gave you a choice, Whacks or hours marching with a rifle on "the track". Demerits were taken off at the rate of one demerit for one hour of marching. Or 3 demerits for each whack. As I still had some 30 demerits on the last day of class, he decided that I would get a special rate. He would wipe my record clean, give me back my first louie pips for 4 whacks. I jumped all over it. I really wanted to graduate as a first lieutenant. My parents were coming to see me walk the walk.

All of this went down in the Armory, a long room that had a desk for the Colonel and racks of rifles and shelves filled with ammo. The recipient would grab a rifle rack with both hands, thus placing the buttocks in the perfect position for a solid upswing stroke from the Colonel. His paddle was about the length of a baseball bat whittled out of a very thick board that ended in a paddle surface about 12x12 inches big. It had 5 big holes drilled in it. The holes allowed a free swing with no wind resistance and left round welts that did not go away for days. Every time I faced his paddle, the blows brought tears to my eyes. The Colonel did not fool around. You knew you were getting hit. One last time I left that last day with tears running down my face but with gratitude that he allowed me to graduate with honor in front of my parents. I had neglected to tell them I had been busted.

My wife and I made the conscious choice to not spank our daughter. Not so much that we considered spanking abusive, but more that it was ineffective. I know the fear of it never made me think twice about the trouble I was always brewing up.

An after thought or side note here:

While trying to come up with an appropriate image for this post, my initial searches only turned up links to naughty girl spanking sites or S&M sites. Apparently corporal punishment has now transcended punishment and become pleasure for many people out there. What a whacky world we live in.

Later.............................

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Grief

I have truly been lost in the BoZone the last 10 days or so. I lost my way the moment I answered the phone. A close relative informed me of a death in the family. Immediate grief set in. The following days became a fog. A trip south to attend the services and stand or sit for hours crowded in with other grieving relatives and friends while the immediate family stood numb trying to deal with the unsought overwhelming show of support. I wonder if we helped them cope or made the process worse? I know I did not feel better when I finally began the 600 mile drive back to Maine. My pain will have to wear itself out I guess.

Rituals, traditions, and the best clothes are dug out from the back of our closets when someone close dies. Moods are somber and serious. Jokes are carefully made in attempts to bring some relief without being insensitive. Copious amounts of food are set up on tables while strangers mingle with relatives. Old friendships are re-kindled, old feuds forgotten, and possible new connections created.

Like weddings, funerals bring people together in celebration. One celebrates a new beginning. The other celebrates an end. Tears accompany both. Then we move on. Damaged maybe, but we move on.

I have some experience with death. Live 59 years and it has to touch you more than a few times. No matter what ceremonial rigamarole we wrap death in, grief always ends up being a truly personal struggle. Sure it is fine to say misery loves company, but our misery is felt individually, no matter what the person next to you feels.

Tired platitudes are pulled out of religious hats, out of secular hats and used to try to make our pain go away. "She's in God's hands now", "Her pain is gone now", or "She is in a better place now" - All of them not meant to make the deceased feel better, but aimed at keeping their memory alive in our minds. If the person is important enough to us, their memory will always be there, an uncomfortable knot in our soul. We will sift through our memories and settle on one or two that make us smile and maybe a few that make us weep. But part of them will always be here, no matter what.

With this in mind, I would say that none of us ever really dies as long as someone remembers us.

RIP Erin.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

That Guy

Last Saturday, Bike Shop Jim tried to pin me down. "You riding tomorrow with us over to Bear Brook?"

I was still undecided at that point. The plan called for another Sunday shot because of a bike ride. I knew it would turn into an all day affair. Bear Brook State Park in New Hampster was chock full of punishing trails.....miles of punishing trails. Besides, the group we were hooking up with were true gnarly dudes, looking to pound whoever was along into the ground with their stiff pace and aggressive riding. My body was no longer young and numb and finally I had started to wrap my mind around this notion. Riding on Sunday was gonna hurt............deep.

I looked at Bike Shop Jim. "Uh, I don't know yet. You know I have a yard that is out of control and I......."

"Here come the excuses." Jim started in. "Come on ole man, just admit you are over the hill. Grab your walker and go home." He smiled and then said, "You picking up lunch today? I feel like a Turkey club from Rosa's."

"Yeah I guess so. Call it in. Order me up a roast beef club, ...uh... No, make that a ham and cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo. Not toasted." I grabbed the truck keys and headed out.

The whole run to Rosa's Jim's "walker" comment stuck in my craw. On the way back to the bike shop I saw an old duffer inching along Main St making slow but steady progress with his walker. If I lived long enough, I knew the odds were even I would be that guy someday. And the day I might become that guy was not as far off as it used to be.

When asked my age recently, I have been telling people I am sixty years old like some teenager not quite 16 who cannot wait to claim that next birthday less than a year away. I don't think I am doing it because I am looking forward to being sixty. Christ, who looks forward to being sixty? I think I am claiming sixty as a kind of preparation exercise for when my next birthday finally rolls around. Claiming it now keeps the shock of hitting the big 6-0 down to a minimum. Anyway, that's my theory and for now I'm running with it.

So I slow down and pull over on Main St to watch in my mirror the old codger struggle along behind his walker. He never slows. He never speeds up. Two steps, pick up the walker, move it forward a foot or so and then two more steps, and so on. He finally catches up to where I am pulled over.

As he passes my window, he looks over and says, "Beautiful day, ain't it." And on he goes, not even hesitating to hear my reply which I never made, because his cheery demeanor caught me off guard. I could not imagine myself with even the hint of a cheerful thought if I was stuck behind a walker on Main St. And here is this old fart, smiling and cruising at a snail's pace loving life. Damn.

I pulled back into traffic and finished the drive back to the bike shop. On the way, I decided I was going to ride on Sunday come Hell or high water. I knew that the number of rides I had left in me were dwindling and any day on a bike, no matter how painful, beat gimping on Main St behind a walker. And yeah, the ride was painful, but I survived and grinned all the way home. Thanks to that guy and his walker.

See Ya...............................
___________________________________________________

Image poached from Bleed Cubbie Blue

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Is That A Cruller in Your Pocket.........

......Or are you just happy to see me.

I had to laugh this morning when I came upon this headline "N.J. Dunkin Donuts worker caught in 'extra sugar' sex sting". Of course I had to open it and read it.

Seems for a nominal fee over and above the price of a cup of coffee and a donut, one enterprising young woman augmented her income by offering personal services to the patrons of the drive through. Because these "services" were deemed illegal by local and state statutes, naturally the local police became interested in her "off the clock" and "on the c(l)ock" activities. Determined to muzzle this budding entrepreneur and restore civility and morality to the Dunkin Donut parking lot, they set up an undercover sting operation. Of course they caught her.

All I can think of is this really puts a new spin on the term "Dunkin Donut".

Later...............................

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

August 2nd

I was sitting at my computer this morning. Spread out on any unoccupied flat service was the financial information from the last month at the bike shop. As I balanced this and entered that into the loose dog balance sheet I use to keep myself from spending more than I have, I thought about Congress and this date.

At first, that flash of anger I have been nursing since this whole cluster f......this whole mess began surged up to the front and I lost my concentration on my own efforts to curb spending while still trying to keep my doors open. I had not realized just how angry I was at Congress. I screamed, 'You fuckin assholes".......and then softer but with deep seated disgust, "you fucked us again".

No matter who claims victory out of all this, it is a sure thing the main losers are the 95% of the American population not flying in corporate jets and smoozing poolside in Palm Beach. We got screwed again. They kicked the can further down the street for someone else to deal with. What a bunch of gutless wonders.

I thought about what I would have done had I been in Congress. This thought stopped me cold. I have never been one to say, "If I was in charge...." Oh, I am quick with "You oughta do this, or not do that". But as far as imagining my reaction or action as the man in charge, I have never done that. I know this fiscal crap is way more complicated than the simplicity of the talking points tossed out there for public consumption. I also know, running a government is not as simple as running a business, no matter how big. So applying my own rules of fiscal responsibility would not really fit. But the basics might.

First of all if I am facing a debt ceiling, and believe me when I say I am always facing one, I look for new income streams besides budgeting what money I do have or expect to have. Closing loop holes is akin to me looking for back door ways to make my bottom line healthier. Closing loopholes is like finding money, and Congress did not even consider it for long. What is up with that? Are tax breaks for corporate jet rides that freakin important?

Second of all, I would never drop my price on anything, unless the cost to me went down. But Congress does not think along those lines. It seems that Congress has decided that even though for most of us, costs have gone up, Congress has allowed a privileged few to keep stuffing more money into their pockets on the the backs of the rest of us.

I am fed up with this notion of entitlement handed over to the corporations and those who run them. The rich have done nothing for me I did not earn through my sweat or my purchases. My life will continue on as usual even if they have to ante up and pay more for the privilege of being called Americans. It is not a matter of fairness. I just feel they should pay more for the privilege of picking my pockets.

Later.........................................