Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Literary Masochism Realized

I have been posting to this blog for 6 months now. In that time, I have received little notice. A comment here and there, but nothing of any consequence. Then two or three days ago, I received a flood of comments on a post I made in March. Literary Masochism was my first impression of a writer's site, Everything2. All of the comments came from members of E2. Besides the couple of grammatical critiques of my post, the general tone was that I had the wrong impression of E2. While they were sticklers in regards to the right way to write, they seemed eager to help out flounders such as myself. "Please join in, you will not regret it", was the overwhelming sentiment.

I was very suprised. Here I have been writng in the wilderness for 6 months and all of a sudden one of my posts gets more comments than the other 100 or so combined. A bit flattered that folks from a site far away were taking the time to visit mine, I decided to activate my membership. I spent most of last Sunday mucking around the rules and regs. When I thought I had a clue, I took one of my early blog posts and created a write-up.

Sure that it would be shot down, I was not disappointed. I think it lasted maybe 10 minutes, before one of the mucky mucks of the site blew it away. I was not bothered much by this. I expected it. But what I hoped for did not happen. I had hoped some comment about why it was deleted would be made available to me. Instead, it just disappeared with a little message that told me it was now in "node heaven". Forget the positive feedback, there was not even any negative feedback.

My immediate knee jerk response was to move on. I have never been a joiner. So screw em. But as I sit here and type words that only I will see, I realize that if I blow them off, I may be losing a chance to help myself become a better writer. This site seems set up to make that happen. So, I will lick my wounds and consider my next move. I will go back.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Teaching an Old Dog a New Trick

As I listened to Led Zepplin ll tonight, my mind wandered back in time to when this album was current and the rock album to have. My dad was an audophile who became hooked when mono was king in the 50's and early 60's. He listened to mostly instrumental music, classical, jazz, some swing and a smattering of show tunes. He had a generally low opinion of the human voice, considering it no better than any other instrument. He was sure that it was over used and often ruined an otherwise good tune.

Anyway, he was hip to the stereo thing long before it became the rule, not the exception. The early recordings were crude and not completely figured out yet. He gave up on it, figuring stereo would never amount to much. That is until the day I forced him to listen to Led Zepplin through my headphones on my stereo. I kept the volume turned down to the old fart level and made him suffer through "Whole Lotta Love". When the guitar licks that changed from one speaker to the other hit, I saw his eyes light up and he started grinning. Then I switched Led for Jimi Hendrix and he just kept grinning. The next day, he ordered up the biggest stereo amp Heathkit offered. When it came, he built it in record time. And while he went back to his show tunes and long hair Beethoven and Chopin, I knew I had been integral in helping my father reach a new level of music appreciation.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Introspectively Yours - 580

A piece I just finished and relegated to draft status was 500 words that ultimately said nothing. But it did spark something inside. I indicated I couldn't or wouldn't write about Love. That everytime I did, I came off like some lovesick teenager after his first kiss. I thought about that and it dawned on me that Love is a subject I have avoided in my writing since, well, my early 20's anyway, 30 or so years ago. So with a "that was then, this is now" attitude, I thought I might just re-visit a subject I have been uncomfortable with for the last 3 decades.

I need to identify what kind of Love I want to discuss. Family type love or lust for the other sex type Love? I have never felt completely at home discussing either. So I guess it doesn't matter much which one I start in on. What may matter more is why am I so uncomfortable with the idea of discussing Love. I have experienced Love, good and bad. I haved loved . I have been loved. I have wanted love. I have wished another did not love me. I have foolishly pursued another's love. Pretty much experienced it from all sides. But I don't like talking about it. Odd. I guess it's a guy thing. Well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

But like most excuses, all the guy excuse does, is allow me to duck out on a tough question. I have often wondered if my refusal to open up about emotional facets of my life is a sign I don't want to face some of the uglier little truths about me and the way I have carried myself from the cradle to the here and now. Like I am ashamed of the life I wasted or failed to use to it's potential emotionally. But most of the time, I think my less than eager attitude to talk relationships is based more on my desire to stay aloof and detached from those folks who would be closer if I let them. That placing an emotional barrier between myself and those I love is a way to soften the blow should I be rejected at some future date.

When I contemplate this, I always end up back to my childhood and growing up in a family of like minded souls. I never felt like I belonged or that anyone really cared I was there. I grew up feeling like some duty everyone had to deal with. I wasn't abused. I was ignored.

Well, That's how I feel when I am in the "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I'm gonna eat some worms" frame of mind. The truth is, I was probably truly loved and cared about. But like me, my family didn't wear their love on their shirt sleeves. Getting all mushy and misty eyed was not our style. Real men don't act like that.

Even if the truth is somewhere in the middle, the fact is, I have a problem opening myself up emotionally. And after 53 years of developing and nuturing this tendency, is it possible to break the cycle? Is it even worth the time and heartache? Hmm. Self growth at anytime seems like a good idea. But like most ideas, they stay just that, passing moments of what we should be doing but probably won't because staying in the rut we already have is safer than trying out a new one.

Nothing to say

Trying to fulfill my own expectations, I stopped in tonight just to keep this blog gig moving along. Some fresh commentary on whatever I might come up with. Hopefully fairly soon too. Having not sat down with anything particular in mind, it will be as much a suprise to me as to you what the night's subject might be. Until I locate some interesting point to make or rant to vent, I will subject all of us to words of zero sum value, wasting several bytes of memory somewhere out there in the intangible internet ether.

Marriage - Hmm. Always fertile ground there. No marriage is without anecdotal possibilities or spleen venting potential. The signifigant other is always finding unintentional ways to piss us off or ways to tickle us pink.

Workplace woes and worries - I could fill a book and barely touch the general overall feel. And who really cares anyway?

Trips down memory lane - Always the "go to" subject when all else fails.

Favorites - Music, Art, Novels, poems and hobbies. Interests that tiitillate and fulfill my free time but no one else's. For most folks not the page turner I think it should be.

Sex - This will keep em coming back. Unless of course there is no sex and that's what I talk about.

Medical histrionics and hysteria - We all have aches, pains, stitches or an operation or two. And for some reason we like to share the ugly details with each other. A friend waddled into the shop the other day fresh from his recent vasectomy. Made me pucker and instinctlively grab my nads to protect them from hearing the blow by blow.

Sports - I really enjoy sports. All kinds of sports. But like politics and religion, I get my fill on the various forums I visit. Minimal blog time here is through concious deliberation and hard won self restraint. We spend too much time discussing the latest trades, outrageous salaries, releases, wins and losses. Just how many different twists can people put on whether Lance will really retire or is he really a doper?

Self Analysis - Maybe one of my unconcious favorites. Falling into the feel sorry mode is an easy trap to fall into. But once again, any interest to those outside my small circle has to rate a tad over zero at best.

Smitten and in Love - Well written prose on Love and being in it is near impossible to do well. Most times, it comes out like some lovesick juvenile writing I love you over and over again in their history notes instead of paying attention to the professor. At least my stuff does. So I don't go there very often.

That's but a few of the possible subjects to delve into tonight. But as I considered and wrote a little on each, none offered up any clever or witty ways to impart them to my faithful fan base. So I guess, tonight, I have nothing to say.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Moving day

My wife and I drove 4 hours yesterday down to Springfield College to pick up my daughter's stuff. This parental pilgramage is as predictable as Robins coming back every Spring. Like all rites of Spring, there are constants that do not vary and rituals that play out identically all over America.

First of all, any college with common sense will temporarily rescind their hard and fast rules regarding parking, doors being open, and ID checks. For a day or two, they will allow a mild form of anarchy to take over. They will allow this because it will happen regardless. Combine the tendency of college students to be scofflaws with the determined force of a parent who wants to load up and get out, and what we end up with is a situation that is out of control. The best they can hope for is that in 2 days, the normal sleepy atmosphere they are used to will return and the tire divets in the grass are not too deep.

So, as we approach the college, we give Lis a call. "Find us a spot and stand in it". She calls back. Great! Right in front of the door. I pull around the one way and there is my little darling standing in the best spot on campus for loading anything. What luck. Wait! The car in front of us is attempting to pull into our spot. The man points to Lis as if she is in his way. Lis does not budge. All 5'2" of her stands tall and points to me behind him. I could almost see his shoulders slump as he pulled away. By the 3rd year of doing this, you learn a trick or two.

We walk into her hallway and there is one box neatly taped sitting outside her room. I think, "This can't be good". But being optimistic, I assume the rest of the boxes have not made their way to the hallway yet. Right. We walk into her hovel and it looks like every college room I remember. Crap everywhere and nothing in boxes ready for me to put in the truck. It is going to be a long day. I get the ladies started packing boxes and then head down to snooze in the front seat while Green Day blasts from the CD Player.

Tired of sleeping upright, I plop down on the small couch in the dorm foyer. Constant activity. Moms, Dads, sons and daughters parade past with countless bundles, furniture and bags. Two young studs walk past with a sad excuse of a coffee table between them. Beer encrusted with a bag of chips and deck of cards still glued to the top. Outside, there is a 30 yard container . They heave it in. And in the meantime, the dorm janitor sits on the pic nic table in the sun while his Walkman plays tunes. Lis informs me he is supposed to be helping whoever needs it. I guess he figures staying out of the way is help enough.

I wander up to the room. Good. Stuff ready to be loaded. And so my day continues. They pack, I grunt it down to the truck. 4 hours later, I have a full truck and Lis has an empty room. As I look at the heap in the back of the truck, I am struck by the sheer volume of stuff my little girl needs to get through a year of college. Refrigerator, TV, Stereo, 50 pairs of shoes, the list is endless. The one odd item I do not recollect ever bringing home before is the box of liquor and beer I packed somewhere in the back. Oh well, even the goodie two shoes need to howl at the moon once in awhile. Apparently, my little darlin has discovered this.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Tapped out

I can always tell when the limit of what I can handle has been reached. Unfortunately, it seems I have to reach the limit before I recognize it. After reaching this limit many times over the years, avoiding it would seem an easy task. But no, some lessons need to be pounded in on a regular basis. This time might be different. I might be seeing it before it crests. Or think I do. The reality may be the limit is passed and what I see is rear view observation.

Regardless, the limit is near. Either in front or behind. If I want to remain healthy, sane, and somewhat content, I will have to disappoint a few folks in the next couple of weeks. At least this time, I made no hard promises. I only indicated I would do what I could. A weak escape clause, but I will use it if I have to.

In the meantime, I continue to bear down on what's in front of me. Ticking off each chore and obligation as each is successfully completed. And without looking too hard at the length of the list, I take on the duty next in line and concentrate on it. One step at a time.

A Postscript
GG, the cat I mentioned some days ago seems to have been resurrected. The little bugger got in my face this AM. His eyes were not sealed half shut. They were no longer cloudy and he was back to his normal wheeze instead of that death rattle he has been sporting for the last month or so. Damn cats. Just when you are ready to take them on that last trip to the vet, they pop back like nothing ever happened. Anyway, it's good to have him back and on the bounce. His buddies will be happy.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

A Cat's Tale

One of our cats was born sick and almost 2 years later, GG is still sick. I am afraid he is not long for this world. He coughs, sneezes and sounds terrible. All the time. Poor guy. He sits at the window and looks out all day. I know he wants to go outside. What cat doesn't? But he can't. He's sick. Sometimes I just want to let him go and have a blast with the time he has left. It just ain't right keepin him from the fun all the other cats are havin. But we keep him inside. Afraid he will become more stressed than he is, keel over and die.

Bob, our oldest tom, is just the opposite. He stays out day and night. Eats anything that he can fit in his mouth. Well, he's not too partial to toads. He went through a spell when he was kitten. Ate the big one in the basement and then immediately puked it up on my pillow. He generally lives off the land. If we see him with his face in the food bowl, we know it was tough day hunting. Healthy and huge at age 9, he shows no sign of letting up. I think he is actually getting bigger. No Coyotes, Bobcats, or Fishers have grabbed him. His survival instincts are finely tuned. He'll tackle a squirrel, but draws the line when confronted with the irregular troop of passing wild turkeys.

So we have G and we have Bob. One yearns to be out and about and one lives the dream. One sits and slowly dies. And one sems to defy death. Proof that Life is indeed not fair.

You can skip this.

When I sit down in front of this 'puter to pour my soul into my blog, I seem to approach it in one of two ways. Sometimes, I find it necessary to bring everyone up to date on what's happenin in Mike's life at the moment. I find my life very interesting. I am sure everyone else will too. And then sometimes I just sit down determined to write something. Anything. Whatever pops up. Totally random, I will type madly, without any consideration of content, theme, or style. Stream of conciousness rants that sometimes work and sometimes don't.

Tonight, I cannot seem to make up my mind which way I want to go. I had a subject I wanted to discuss. It now sits in a draft limbo, unable to get off the ground. I successfully wrote a few words about my over the top attachment to junk. And now I sit and explain it all. Hmm.

I guess tonight is a random session. I just want to see words go down. That's okay. It's the act of writing I enjoy first and foremost. Bonus if it makes sense.