Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Frantic thoughts dance and bounce
Mind games and concerns
Keeping sleep at arm's length
I can see it if I close my eyes
Almost taste it if I concentrate

But it hangs there just out of reach
As the clock creeps up on a quarter to three.
Oh please free me, release me
Give me a break fer Christ's sake.
Daytime won't wait for me to be late

The covers are too hot
So I kick them off
Roll right,Roll left,
Stop in the middle and then roll back
Can't find that special sweet spot
Not hard, not soft and not too hot

I get up, get a drink, and flick on the tube
Late night TV, ads about college Boobs
Sci Fi's pushing a big snake movie
TNT and TBS, same inane stupidity
Fear Factor reruns and Little House on the Prairie

Watching but not seeing
I sit there and wonder
Why this is happening to me
Listening but not hearing
I sit there on there couch
And watch a cat lick it's ass

This trip is becoming familar
Every night the same routine
Climb into the sack and stare at the dark
worrying the day, suffering every part
Mulling over every fopah and mistake

My wife says, Mike just relax
Take some aspirin and just kick back
Sure is easy to say
as she snores over there on her back

About 4, all I want is an ax
Run amok, go on the attack
Share my joy and wake the neighbors up
But being a reasonable man and generally considerate
I sit silent and wallow in my self inflicted Hell

When I close those little peepers
The low grade nightmare begins
Hyper, energized and mutated
Thoughts and concerns pulsate
So I sit with eyes open
The lights on and no one's home
I can tell. I am on the outside looking in.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Literary Masochism

I just hooked up with a writer's website, Everything2. I am a bit confused about the full intent of this site. From what I can discern to this point, it is a site for folks to post the written word in front of an apparently tough crowd. Previous experience with sites like this have left me battered, beaten, and torn asunder. No one is more brutal and honest than those who judge those who pretend to belong. I have yet to post. There are rules. Lots of rules. There are suggestions that fall just shy of rules. And then there are the fopahs. The unspoken rules you discover only after breaking them. Throughout the various FAQs I read, constant warnings of proper grammar, spelling and HTML skills were sprinkled. Playing fast and loose with the King's English is most definitely frowned upon.

After an hour or so of trying to get a handle on the ins and outs, I left and came here without posting or even lurking. Joining that community seems more intimidating than here. A blogger's world is a mob scene. A crowd of indivual expressions that take pride in not conforming, just connectting. And even connecting seems an afterthought with quite a few. This E2 site is sructured and rigid in comparison. You can apparently wax upon anything you want, but make it interesting, well written, and make a point. Instead of the typical blogger waitng a lifetime for a response, in E2, others are waiting to respond. Waiting to pounce. Any negatives quickly pointed out and often whole nodes(originating posts) summarily deleted before the next sunrise. Check your ego at the door. Thick skin required.

Friday, March 18, 2005

I Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

Online this A.M., I was in a political forum. Naturally, terroism, Islam, and all that is the Middle East are main topics of discussions. As were hate Bush posts, love Bush posts, and everything in between. I have my views about all this and prefer to keep them in the various forums and out of my blog. My blog is my place to remain calm, have fun, and generally relax with words. But something occurred to me as I was reading the heated exchanges from various sides on the numerous flash point issues. What occurred to me was a quote from long ago in my youth.

"I have met the enemy and he is us". This quote from the old "Pogo" comic strip is as relevant now as it was back in the day. We all assume that we have enemies. With everyone making this assumption, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. We are not happy unless we have someone to hate. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Republicans, Democrats, the list is endless. We hate based on skin color, sexual orientation, what school we went to, what team we like. Humans have this bizarre need to pigeonhole other people into categories of disdain and distrust. And then the pigeonholed folks hate back. We base our judgement of others on some self taught codes of ethics that may or may not be based on logical thinking. And right now, the logic in everyone's hate seems a bit skewed.

By assuming the worst in people, conflict is a sure result. Carrying chips on our shoulders only invites others to try and knock it off. If we humans could just evolve one step further, I think 90% of all the hate and discontent would go away. I am not talking love my neighbor crap. But not hating my neighbor would certainly make life easier for both of us.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Run Off

Terms like "watching the grass grow" usually mean someone is just hanging out, kicked back, and being basically useless. A term that indicates laziness of the highest order. Up our way this winter has quite a few of us are spending more time "watching the ice melt". I am interested not because of my lack of energy, but because I am keenly aware of all that water stored in all that snow. A paticularily hard winter has dumped more than the usual 65" to 70" of snow on us. Here in Acton we are closing in hard on 120" with more sure to come before the robins will be able to wrestle worms out of the ground. This week so far we have seen the thaw break in and water is running like millions of faucets carelessly left open. And because many of the natural channels are blocked by the high banks of snow, this water is finding it's way into homes, garages, plowed parking lots, and school yards.

My garage is definitely vulnerable. Set down into a cut, the banks of snow on each side of the drive have peaked at about 10 feet on each side. The water from both banks is melting into the drive but unable to find it's normal low spot to run out to the road. I am fighting a losing battle to keep it out of the garage. Yesterday I chopped away at one banking till I found dirt. With the squeegee, I pushed the water in that direction in a vain attempt to convince it to move away from the house and down to the road. I became disgusted, gave up and went into the bike shop to catch up on some repairs.

The good news is my efforts were rewarded. When I got home at 7:30 last night, the drive was dry and the garage floor just a tad damp. My digging combined with the day's thaw must have broken something loose and the runoff in front of the house now has found it's way towards the road and away from me and mine. So I stood outside this morning watching the snow as it prepared to begin it's daily melt. I felt good. I had proven that I was, for the moment, smarter than the water.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Screwin the Pooch, Number 70

For my 70th post, I am wordless, thoughtless, the bin is empty. But not being one of the important posts like the first one, the 25th, the 50th, or that biggee, the 100th, skating on 70 seems almost okay. Wheat always comes with some chaff anyway.

My daughter came home for Spring Break this week. She brought all her dirty clothes, 2 Cds, and an ear infection that soon morphed into more than that. She has been staked out on the couch for 4 days now using tissue by the boxful and pumping fluids hard. All her college buds are in Florida, Can Cun, Aspen or Idaho. It's lucky she had made no plans to join them. Being sick in some tropical paradise is worse than not going at all. I spent a week sick as a dog in the Keys back in the day. I still partied, but all the substances I ingested combined with the 101 temp ended up leaving a week long blank in my long term memory. All I remember is I went and then came back. And I felt miserable the whole time.

One of the Cds she brought home was Pearl Jam's "Lost Dogs". A compilation of tunes that did not make it into any other CD. The songs not deemed worthy at some earlier time, but now, they apparently have some relevance. Pearl Jam must be in need of some quick cash. From what I have heard, these lost songs should have stayed lost. Less than impressive. Way less then impressive. Matter of fact, most of these tunes are barely listenable, if that. I am not sure if I am going to be able to deal with every song in the 2 CD set. No, I am not. Time to punch it out and put something else on. 10,000 Maniacs, "MTV Unplugged". Now there's a CD I haven't listened to in awhile.

I only sat down here to avoid the TV tonight. In my quest to realign my priorities and break some negative cycles, I stopped watching the tube at 8:00 PM, choosing to do something either creative or substantial. Do anything but veg in front of the idiot box. I write now to hopefully find something of interest to share with any who might stop by. I am also practicing my typing by pushing for a faster pace than my normal 20 to 30 words a minute. Let's see, how many fingers do I actually use to type. Both forefingers, both 2nd fingers, both thumbs, and an occaisional pinky. That makes 7 out of a possible 10. Hmm. Not bad for a guy who flunked typing in junior high. Of course, the accuracy with which I use those 7 digits leaves something to be desired. If I failed to re-read what I write, the words would have extraneous letters attached or odd combos of astericks, = signs. an unplanned colon or two, and several lines all in caps cuz I hit the Cap lock button.

I just positioned my fingers on the key pad according to the rules I learned back in typing class. And I also am attempting to type without looking at the keyboard. The pace has dropped to a crawl. But I am not doing so bad. My fingers seem to have a clue even if I don't.

Enough typing rundowns, sick kid reports, and basic run of the mill fooling around. I need to actually put some words of interest down. I keep typing whatever comes to mind in the distant hope that something of substance will reveal itself. Make itself known. Become apparent. Knock on my door.

Do I fall back on the reliable and possibly over utilized distant memories? Wax poetic about how it used to be with that dependably objective 20/20 hindsight I have? Do I pick a subject like politics or religion to rant on, creating hate and discontent among the throngs who wait in line to glimpse my blog? Or do I continue this Seinfeld post and write sweet nothing for 1000 words or so?

Back in my younger and crazier days, I could get into a drug or alcohol induced stream of conciousness piece and keep it going for hours. Just plug in the brain and let it drain onto the paper. Most times, it was garbage. Occaisionally it would be funny and often worth keeping for future enjoyment. The problem with most of it was it was for my eyes only. Not because of deep personal shit, but more because I was the only one who could make sense out of the drivel. As I matured, I found the spontaneity of letting it flow tougher to do. Either I was developing more hangups or I was starting to care about what and how I wrote. I found making a point in less than a 1000 words a challenge worth rising to. I had come to realize that most of my stream of conciousness crap was just that, crap.

So I sit here tonight with no subject in mind. No point to make. Nothing profound to lay down. I just sit and type in pursuit of the new direction I am aiming for. Doing something, anything to avoid being the after hours slug I usually am. It is apparently working. It is now past 10 PM and I have successfully screwed the pooch for 2 hours. But not in front of the tube. All in all, a successful night.

The Wrong Side of the Bed

(#69) Monday, early A.M. - Dawn breaking, looks to be a beautiful day out there. In here however, it's another story. Seems one of us got up on the wrong side of the bed. Or it might be we both got up on the wrong side. The few words I exchanged with my wife indicated any more conversation would be at my own risk. So, I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed in here. The higher volume of early morning rustling I can hear through the closed office door reinforced my decision to retreat and let her bull her way through her morning routine. It is not a foul mood she is in as much as it is a "Get out of my way, I have more important things to do than rachet jaw with you this morning" mood.

So I wonder which one of us woke up differently. In retrospect, I think it was me. Last night I uncharacteristically went to bed at 9 PM. I actually slept for 8 solid hours. I cannot remember the last time I slept for 8 hours straight. So, I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed instead of the bleary eyed and grouchy insomniac I have become of late. Had I been in my normal foul mood, her cold shoulder would have gone unnoticed and we both would get on with beginning our workday and our work week.

Being in a good mood at 5:30 AM is an unfamiliar feeling. I'll certainly go with the flow, because finding good moods lately has been difficult. It is just odd to view a normal flow in our house from a different perspective. When I attempted to engage my wife in conversation before she was ready, I had broken the routine. And by being in a better mood than normal, I was more sensitive to the negative vibes of someone getting ready for their first commute of the week. So I retreated to the office to lick my perceived wounds. But now that I have thought this whole thing through, I realize it was I who was upsetting the cart, not my wife. To her it is SSDD, but to me today is an aberration. I am the one who got up on the wrong side of the bed, not her.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

A Silver Lining Tale

My wife lost her accounting job last Fall. The reason stated was a downsizing one. The real reason was her inability or refusal to kiss ass and play the Yes man. I mean Yes girl. Her job as a CPA was the foundation of our income. Lord knows, my bike shop wasn't. So, here we are, just before Thanksgiving, no steady income and nothing but bleakness and negativity on the horizon. There was no silver lining to this cloud. Or so we thought.

For the first time in our lives, we went on the dole. Just the process of filing for unemployment stuck in both our craws. But she did it, because we absolutely needed all the short term help we could get. My bike shop was suffering the worst Fall since it opened. There was nothing to pull from it.

My wife decided that she would aggressively pursue interviews in the Public Accounting field. She would also begin to find her own clients and maybe go into business for herself. The beauty of that idea was it wouldn't take much of an upfront investment. Her stock in trade was in her head. All she needed were clients. She hung out a shingle and went for it.

Fast forward to the here now. A month ago, she pulled out of the unemployment thing and in just 4 months, she has picked up enough clients that she is now considering not bringing any new ones on. She works harder than she did as a staff accountant for someone else, but man o man, is she a much happier camper. The financial hole we dug is still there, but looking better. It is the quality of our lives that has seen a major uptick. With her in a much better place mentally and emotionally, I have followed suit and both of us seem to have become more optimisitc. We laugh more. The nit picking on both sides has diminished. And while we may not have a pot to piss in at the moment, we are no longer pissed off at the World. Life seems worth it again.

This current crisis in my life has reinforced some of the attitudes I have held for many years. Life is a series of highs and lows. If we allow these lowpoints to take over our lives, the climb out can and is sometimes impossible. But if we can allow the low point to run it's course while actively seeking alternatives, something is bound to turn up. Wallowing in self pity can become a kind of perpetual motion machine. A monster that eats it's own tail. The only way to fight it, is pick your sorry ass up off the mat and go at it again.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Determined Mania

Over the last few weeks, I have attempted the incredibly tough task of turning over a new leaf. A confirmed slug who took pride in avoiding chores of any kind, I have begun to open some eyes with my new enthusiam and "git her done" mentality. My wife offered me a cautious compliment yesterday when she come home and found the house vacuumed. Since we have co-habitated for 20 plus years, we both know the fire that burns in my belly for things domestic is often nothing more than a brief gas attack. My usual method is to be crazed for a few weeks and then I burn out and retreat back to the couch. But I know myself well enough to know this time I feel different. I am not so manic. I have been more determined than inspired. Nothing is really being left half done. Well, hope springing eternal and all that, once more, I will go with this flow as long as I can.

An Afterword and a Confession
This entry into my blog is actually a delaying tactic. A backslide of sorts. There is 4 inches of new snow on the ground with up to a couple of feet planned for later. I will admit to being quite fed up with the chore of snow removal. So, I sit here typing away instead of facing up to the task at hand. Oh well, I guess I cannot put it off any longer. See Ya.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Better Late than Never

I need to do some serious upkeep on my house. Built in stages starting around 1940 something, the house evolved into it's current layout in the mid 1950s. Framed with locally milled hemlock, it is some rugged. I replaced the roof with a metal one in the 80's. We have replaced the heating plant, the hot water heater, and the water pump several times. I have mowed the grass when the spirit moved me. Hacked back a shrub or two. We had a brand spanking new asphalt drive put in. Other than a couple of fixes I can't think of, that's about it. But I know that a house is never finished, completely fixed, or done.

A house in our part of the world exists in a harsh enviroment. Long winters followed by extrodinarily wet Springs batter our homes. Because of this and the simple fact that every house is always in need of something, there are many projects impatiently waiting for me to attend their needs.. The roof leaks, the plates in the basement wall by the stairs are rotted, the bathroom needs a complete do over, all the windows need re-glazing or replacing. Jeez, the list just goes on and on. Owning a home is a neverending chore.

The smart homeowners who have their shit together and are motivated all the time take on this neverending chore of home repair in stride. Problems are noted and fixed in a timely manner. Routine maintinence is performed routinely and checked off the list when complete. The dumb ass homeowners like me walk around all the problems until something breaks, leaks, or rots away. Sure, I enjoyed being lazy, but now the party's over. Too many things, rotting, leaking, and broken. I have no choice but to face up to it. And responding now is sure to be painful and 3 times as expensive than had I done it when it reared it's ugly head. Whatever it was. A window, a creaky stair, old fixture, or a broken light switch. Had I fixed each as it popped up, I wouldn't be here right now feeling overwhelmed and whining about it on my blog. Instead, I treated my home like the wheather. Talked about it but did nothing to deal with it. I have successfully turned my home into a "Fixer Upper".

After 15 years of active avoidance, I have resolved to change my slovenly ways. I have been busy for 2 weeks organizing tools, cleaning up workspaces, and making an inventory of materials needed vs what I already have. The "To Do" list is starting to come together as a real plan. It appears I have found some real motivation. This flurry of activity on my part may just be a fluke, an attempt to make myself feel good. But, I think I am serious this time. My wife, who has learned to be disappointed, is impressed. Too often, she has seen me become enthusiastic and fully charged only to lose all interest and fall back into my slacker lifestyle.

I feel different this time. I am actually finishing each project I undertake before moving onto the next. There is still an infinite number of repairs to make, but none are half done. I might just be onto something this time. I just don't know if I will be able to look the boys down to the Tradin Post in the eye. We take pride and brag about the chores we avoid. They will take a dim view of this new leaf of mine. Oh well, I need new friends anyway.

A Love / Hate Relationship

I have dealt with over 30 winters here in Maine. Each one was different, with twists unique to each. Excepting a very few, all brought copious amounts of snow, ice, and frigid temperatures. The Winter of 1978(I think) was one they printed T shirts for. There was the infamous ice storm in the 90's that left us stranded with no electricity for 7 days and average temps around 17'F. Winter is a fact of life here in Maine. Deal with it or move.

That's fine and dandy. Deal with it. Right. I do like the winter. The cold. The snow. Sunny days, the sun dancing off the snowpack, and a bike under my butt, I love cruising the snowmobile trails and lakes. I love picking ice outta my beard. The banks stacked high, houses buried up to the windows in white icing, and dogs chase me as I poke around the back roads after a big blow.

Yeah, I really do like winter in Maine. It's the snow shovel I hate. I particularily hate the snow shovel today. Last night's storm dumped over a foot and the wind blew like Hell. The drifts I woke up to were 5 feet in spots and windpacked. Today really sucked.

Some might contend that I should invest in a plow, a sno-blower, or hire someone to clean me out if I hate the snow shovel so much. And they would be right. I really should find a method of snow removal that is less of a back breaking chore. But, you see, I have a sno-blower. It's broken. I have a plow. It's buried under 8 feet of snow and broken also. I'd hire someone to clean me out, but I'm broke too.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

National Security

On a political forum the other day, I was in a heated battle over some government policy that I disagreed with. The other fellow made many weak attempts to rationalize the government's position. Each time, I would cut his argument to pieces. Exasperated, he eventually ended the argument by invoking the "it is a matter of National Security". By saying "National Security", he was really saying, "Oh yeah, well, my dad said so, so it must be right".

Hmm. Great couple of words, "National Security". Important sounding, patriotic without being mushy, and they effectively and legally mask all sorts of nefarious government stuff. Always handy and ready to bail the weak argument. Invoking these two words allows the gullible and afraid to sit back and go, " Ohhhh, National Security, it must be okay then." Somehow, these two words alleviate the need to question the policy or action.

Many people contend that to publicly question and criticize our leaders and the stupid stuff they get us into is unpatriotic and a sign that we just do not love our country. Bullshit. I would rather have a country of political cynics than the majority of complacent sheep we apparently have right now. Our country has a history of ulterior goals being attained through false claims of National Security. To assume that our current leadership is doing anything different is naive and dangerous.

Flag waving and blind allegiance may be a kind of love for one's country. But it is a love that is misguided. Many people equate our country with our government. The two are different. Our country is us. Our government is the group of people we hired to run our country for us. Our government does not love us. Our government loves their job. That is, they love having the power of government. The fact that they should be responsible to us for what they do often gets lost in their quest to gain or extend their power. And yet, many folks assume that our government always has our interest at heart. Again, Bullshit. The two party system we are trapped in assures that party survival comes before the interests of the people they represent.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Just an update

I took a few days off from the blog. It had to do with breaking some negative cycles I had settled into this past winter. Writing in the blog was not negative in and of itself. Rather it was the sluglike lifestyle I took on. Since November, I have gained 30 pounds. My normally active lifestyle ground to a halt. And sitting in front of this damn computer was about all I did in the way of physical or mental exercise. And let's face it, most computer time not working, is pretty much a brain dead activity. And any biomechanical benefits are from the wrists down.

I have reacquainted myself with the pain and pleasure of becoming acive again. At this point, it is more of a painful transition. The pleasure is around the corner I expect. The beached whale has begun it's journey back into the sea. And even though I am still a slug, I am a more active one now. Dropped 6 pounds in the last 9 days. And maybe as my body becomes more alert, my brain will follow. I'll keep you all posted.