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Action Bob Markle

Music, theater, and my personal life, not always in that order. I try to keep it interesting, I rarely hold back, because one thing I truly believe in is the shared experience of this reality we call life. We're all in this together, people. More than we even know.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Lucinda Williams: Side of the Road

I'm a Libra. And something about Libras: We don't like to be alone. I especially don't like to be alone, not since.

But Sue's not here tonight, on a Friday; she's with her mom tonight since it's her birthday and she was operated on yesterday, so Sue drove down to the Cape tonight to be with her, and she's leaving for a couple of days for Mexico next week, so I've got some alone time to deal with.

I thought about calling a buddy to come on over, cook something to eat, have a few drinks, talk like we used to. But then I thought I'd take the time for myself. I was chatting with Allison the other day, and I told her I don't like to be alone anymore, don't like to do things alone anymore, have done enough in my life alone and I've gotten to the point where I want to share the time. You know?

And she got all up on that, she's young and just learning about herself and the world, and she said I should be my own best company, I should do something nice for myself, get dressed up and take myself out to dinner. Yeah, that's something a goat like me is going to do.

I told her I've been by myself so many times even I bore myself.

Anyway, years and years ago, I don't even think I was married yet, the woman who eventually became the mother of my girls had a job where one long weekend a month she'd work from Friday night to Monday morning. I wasn't going to just sit around and pine for her, so I used my T pass to learn Boston, all over. Rode the T from one end to the other. When I was seventeen I traveled all through Europe alone for three months. I've always liked the freedom of traveling alone, not worrying about another person, their likes and dislikes, schedules, and quirks.

And back then, I'd go to parties and movies alone. And I'd read cookbooks and go to place like Haymarket and get ingredients for dinners and that's how I learned to cook.

We got married and unfortunately it all turned into two people leading two separate lives under one roof. I did a lot of things by myself, then, too.

Once--Sue and I were already going out--I went hiking up in the Whites with Bob like we used to. It was supposed to be for a couple of days and we ended up on top of Mount Bondcliff the first night with the sun going down and I threw down my tent up there and one point I looked up and the moon was coming up over the Presidentials in front of me and the sun was setting over over my shoulder over the Franconian Ridge, and I thought to myself, dammnit, I've done this so many times by myself, I'd like Sue to see this. I came home the next day. I just wasn't mentally prepared to be up there alone, although I've done that so many times.

But tonight I just wanted to be alone. And in a funny way, sitting here writing these words I don't feel so alone knowing somebody's going to be reading them soon. That's what I keep harping about, about how we're all connected, so connected we don't even know how connected we are. If we aren't, I ask you, how come I don't feel alone knowing people will read these words and that will connect us? Again, just because you can't see it or explain it logically doesn't mean it doesn't exist or happen. Aristotle and all those logical Greeks didn't know it all, you know.

Anyway, tonight I made something new: Southern okra (as if there's any other kind.) And I intend to read and play a little guitar. Just feel my own skin for awhile. And I feel pretty good. It's nice to be alone with yourself for a short time.

It's also nice knowing Sue will be back tomorrow. That's real nice knowing that.

Lucinda Williams wrote a real nice song about all this. It's called, Side of the Road. Once you hear it, it's all pretty self-explanatory. If it's not, well, I feel sorry for you.




You wait in the car on the side of the road
Lemme go and stand awhile, I wanna know you're there but I wanna be alone
If only for a minute or two
I wanna see what it feels like to be without you
I wanna know the touch of my own skin
Against the sun, against the wind

I walked out in a field, the grass was high, it brushed against my legs
I just stood and looked out at the open space and a farmhouse out a ways
And I wondered about the people who lived in it
And I wondered if they were happy and content
Were there children and a man and a wife?
Did she love him and take her hair down at night?

If I stray away too far from you, don't go and try to find me
It doesn't mean I don't love you, it doesn't mean I won't come back and
stay beside you
It only means I need a little time
To follow that unbroken line
To a place where the wild things grow
To a place where I used to always go

La la la, la la la, la la la, la la la
La la la la, la la la, la la la, la la la
If only for a minute or two
I wanna see what it feels like to be without you
I wanna know the touch of my own skin
Against the sun, against the wind.

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The Airborne Toxic Event: Sometime Around Midnight

Lynne whispered into my ear: Airoborne Toxic Event. They're the next group up.





The Airborne Toxic Event - Sometime Around Midnight Lyrics
And it starts, sometime around midnight.
Or at least that’s when you lose yourself
for a minute or two.
As you stand, under the bar lights.
And the band plays some song
about forgetting yourself for a while.
And the piano’s this melancholy soundtrack to her smile.
And that white dress she’s wearing
you haven’t seen her for a while.

But you know, that she’s watching.
She’s laughing, she’s turning.
She’s holding her tonic like a cross*.
The room’s suddenly spinning.
She walks up and asks how you are.
So you can smell her perfume.
You can see her lying naked in your arms.

And so there’s a change, in your emotions.
And all these memories come rushing
like feral waves to your mind.
Of the curl of your bodies,
like two perfect circles entwined.
And you feel hopeless and homeless
and lost in the haze of the wine.

Then she leaves, with someone you don’t know.
But she makes sure you saw her.
She looks right at you and bolts.
As she walks out the door,
your blood boiling
your stomach in ropes.
Oh and when your friends say,
“What is it? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Then you walk, under the streetlights.
And you’re too drunk to notice,
that everyone is staring at you.
You just don’t care what you look like,
the world is falling around you.

You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You know that she’ll break you in two.

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Jamey Johnson: The HIgh Cost of Living

Now here's a great country song. Great country licks. Real personal lyrics that mention drinkin' and a pickup truck and Jesus. But this is the real deal, not some fabricated same old same old story.

And three days straight was no big feat
Could get by with no food or sleep
And crazy was becoming my new norm





I was just a normal guy
Life was just a nine to five
With bills and pressure
Piled up to the sky
She never asked
She knew I’d be
Hangin’ with my wilder friends
Looking for some other way to fly

And three days straight was no big feat
Could get by with no food or sleep
And crazy was becoming my new norm

I’d pass out on the bedroom floor
And sleep right through the calm before the storm

My life was just an old routine
Every day the same damn thing
I couldn’t even tell I was alive

I tell you
The high cost of livin’
Ain’t nothing like the cost of livin’ high

That southern Baptist parking lot
Is where I’d go to smoke my pot
Sit there in my pickup truck and pray
Staring at that giant cross
Just reminded me that I was lost
And it just never seemed to point the way

As soon as Jesus turned his back
I find my way across the track
Lookin’ just to score . . . another deal
With my back against that damn eight ball
I didn’t have to think or talk . . . or feel

My life was just an old routine
Every day the same damn thing
I couldn’t even tell I was alive

I tell you
The high cost of livin’
Ain’t nothing like the cost of livin’ high

My whole life went through my head
Layin’ in that motel bed
Watchin’ as the cops kicked in the door

I had a job and a piece of land
My sweet wife was my best friend
But I traded that for cocaine and a whore

With my new found sobriety
I’ve got the time to sit and think
Of all the things I had . . . and threw away

This prison is much colder than
That one that I was locked up in just yesterday

My life is just an old routine
Every day the same damn thing
Hell I can’t even tell if I’m alive

I tell you
The high cost of livin’
Ain’t nothing like the cost of livin’ high

I tell you
The high cost of livin’
Ain’t nothing like the cost of livin’ high

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

George Harrison: Beware of Darkness






Watch out now, take care
Beware of falling swingers
Dropping all around you
The pain that often mingles
In your fingertips
Beware of darkness

Watch out now, take care
Beware of the thoughts that linger
Winding up inside your head
The hopelessness around you
In the dead of night

Beware of sadness
It can hit you
It can hurt you
Make you sore and what is more
That is not what you are here for

Watch out now, take care
Beware of soft shoe shufflers
Dancing down the sidewalks
As each unconscious sufferer
Wanders aimlessly
Beware of maya

Watch out now, take care
Beware of greedy leaders
They take you where you should not go
While weeping atlas cedars
They just want to grow, grow and grow
Beware of darkness (beware of darkness)

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Comcast is still picking pockets...it's Comcastic!

With so many people out of work, Comcast seems to think that it should get paid for not working. For not fixing problems. For just being Comcastic.

January 14 our Internet goes out. Surprised? No, it's Comcastic.

I call. I've called Comcast so many times for problems I actually have them in my cell's address book. And no, I don't have Comcast as a telephone provider. Good God, no. Back when, when I switched to just a cell phone, the people at Comcastic couldn't give me a reason to keep my land line. I swear my question was met with what could only have been slack-jawed stupor. You could almost hear the drool dripping down the customer service reps chin as she tried to pull a reason out of the recesses of her brain. I didn't see it; all I heard was the dead air as the Comcastic rep furiously rifled through her prepared script. No answers there? Well, it looks like it's adios to the Comcast land line.

I wish, oh God do I wish I could say good-bye to Comcast for the Internet, but you know how it is. The email address I have with them is so entrenched in my life, if I changed it, I'd disappear like I had just joined the Federal Witness Protection Plan.

Instead I still have to put up with what I put up with tonight.

Like I said, the Internet goes out around January 14th. I could be wrong about that date. I remember thinking when they scheduled a technician to come out on the 16th that the wait wasn't that long. Usually it's close to a week. They don't care that we now use the Internet for everything, some things trivial, some things important. I've blogged about this more than once. They don't care how important the Internet has become in our life.

So a technician is scheduled to come on the 16th. And lo and behold, what happens on the 16th but, just on a lark, I check and I can log on. I decide not to cancel the appointment with the technician, my appointment with destiny, because maybe there is something wrong.

The technician shows up, I tell him the Internet is working, he looks around, can't find anything wrong, goes outside, comes back inside and says the connection outside was a little loose, maybe that was the problem, and tells me the next time I have this problem to plug the Ethernet cable directly in the computer to make sure there's a signal.

No prob.

So, I get the bill, and see that I have a charge for $24.99, for the service call. For what? He didn't fix anything. The Internet was working, and even if he tightened the connection outside, that's still Comcast's territory. So I call to complain, and I'm told that the tech wrote on his report that he actually did something inside the apartment (liar!) and that because we had the same kind of problem back in October and Comcast waived the service charge, they can't do it again, EVEN THOUGH AGAIN, JUST LIKE IN OCTOBER, THEY DIDN'T DO ANYTHING.

So I bitch some more, and the supervisor I'm talking to--well, she's really not a supervisor; she came on the line saying she was covering for the supervisors, which could mean she was just the customer service rep's girlfriend, for all I know--says she'll investigate and ask the technician what the deal is.

To which I have two questions: 1) Do you think he's really going to remember one call out of all the calls he did in January; and 2) If he does remember what the f**k do you think he's going to say?--oh yeah, sorry about that, I lied on the report?

The supervisor-in-waiting said if he sticks to what he says on his report I have to pay the charge. Talk about the effing fox guarding the chicken coop. And this young woman says all of this to me without flinching, without realizing just how idiotic the process is (better, she probably does, she just doesn't give a shit; she's working, paying her rent; it's not her problem.)

So here we go. I'm laid off. I'm not working, and no one's paying me any money. But Comcast doesn't do any work either, and they want $24.95. It's Comcastic! You don't do anything but you want to get paid for it, that to me is just out-and-out stealing. But that's Comcast for you.

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What was PETA thinking? Veggies make you sexy and smart.

Today, NBC rejected an ad proposed by PETA for the Super Bowl. Some of the reasons NBC rejected it were for:

licking pumpkin

touching her breast with her hand while eating broccoli

pumpkin from behind between legs

rubbing pelvic region with pumpkin

screwing herself with broccoli (fuzzy)

asparagus on her lap appearing as if it is ready to be inserted into vagina

licking eggplant

rubbing asparagus on breast

Well, eating vegetables must make you wise to the new digital world as well as sexy. PETA won't have to pay the reported $2.6 million NBC is asking for a Super Bowl commercial. Instead, it will get millions of free hits on YouTube and Action Bob Markle and places like the Huffington Post, where I saw it first.

$2.6 million dollars for an effing 30-second television commercial. People, to me, along with the salaries of the NFL players and coaches who will be showcased this Sunday (and let's not forget that old guy who will be playing at halftime), $2.6 million for a commercial is what's obscene.

Of course, you never see anything obscene or raunchy like sexual innuendos on network television.

And what's even funnier is, I'm not even a big fan of PETA. But I know a good digital marketer when I see one.

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Open mike at Club Passim...and a great joke...

It's not because I'm cheap or unemployed with pittance trickling into my bank account. If I had a million dollars I'd still like a good deal and music and finding those great, simple places that put it all together.

Tuesday night is open mike at Club Passim in Cambridge. It's five bucks, or free if you're a member like me. Sue takes guitar lessons from Janet Feld at Club Passim's music school that night, so I go into Cambridge with her and hang out in the club. (I take music theory from Ray Chesna there, but that's fodder for a different posting.)

I've always been a big fan of open mikes. Years ago I saw the likes of Jay Leno, Bob Goldthwait, Lenny Clark, Steven Wright, Tony V, and a boatload of other Boston comedians try out there stuff before they made it big at open mikes at places like the Comedy Connection when it was still at the Charles Playhouse. And if memory serves, the cover was about a buck or two. What a great deal.

Like all open mikes, the one at Club Passim is always a crap shoot. The audience is friendly and supportive to all the acts, especially when someone is struggling. They are always appreciative of good work. To a person, everyone there really loves and cares about music and songwriting.

Some nights you get to see a lot of real up-and-coming talent. Other times it's really spotty. There's no guarantee that the people you're watching will be the next Tracy Chapman or Bob Dylan. A lot depends on luck and drive and talent. For every Jay Leno I saw at the Comedy Connection, I watched a lot of (mostly) guys just bomb. But that's not the point of going. It's seeing the works in progress. It's watching the fits and start. The falling down and getting back up again. It's finding that little gem of a moment whether it's new song or strum pattern or maybe just a line in some lyrics.

Last night was a typical night. One woman sang a song about a guy and a girl not getting along very well, with this line in it: I'm a thief and not a liar so I'm going to keep my mouth shut.

There was a bluegrass duo, guitar and fiddle, named The Whiskey Brothers. The two were so young they didn't look old enough to order, much less drink whiskey, but they played one song called, Block Island that was just so nice and sweet. Hard at some points with some deep bass, I imagined the waters off Block Island.

And toward the end there was a guy named Joel (I didn't catch his last name but he's in the picture above) who finger-picked his way through a song about a road, just perfect and mournful.

Along with musicians, there's a comedian who performs regularly, and an actor who recites poetry. One time I was there and he recited nursery rhymes. That night it wasn't my thing, but another night I listened to him recite a litany of poems about ravens. On and on he went, and it takes a few nights but you start to get a real appreciation for what's going on inside that man's head, whatever it is. There's a comedian, I believe his name is Michael Fast--I hope that's his name; I want to get it right--who is constantly trying out new material. I'm kind of critical and sympathetic of comedians having done stand up before. He has kind of a crazy, deadpan, intentionally dumb way of delivering, and last night he told this joke: I read that book about woman being from Venus and men being from Mars, and I think there's something to that. I met this woman, and we got along, and one night we slept together and when I woke up the next day I noticed she had crop circles in her chest hairs. Okay, it's weird, but it's Cambridge, and that's funny.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

16 things about myself....and the nature of self-absorption

All right, we all know the drill by now. Someone sends you an email, or in the case of Facebook, a note comprising a list about themselves. Usually it's pretty trivial stuff. It's kind of an unwritten rule about that sort of thing. It should be trivial and written with a bit of irony for spice. That's the recipe for cool and hip today. Don't be deep or serious, and God, what would we do without our irony, just to show how intelligent and world-weary we all are. We're talking their favorite ice cream, if they're a morning person or night owl. That kind of stuff.

You write a list and send it back to them and to a bunch of your friends. It's a chain letter, is what it is.

It's all part of today's scene filled with pop stars and bloggers and FB pages and social networking, tailor-made for today's digital voyeur.

And yes, in the interest of full disclosure, I realize I'm being as self-absorbed as the next person on this blog. Probably more so, because of the three keywords for this blog, one is "personal". The other two, not that you're interested but I'm so self-absorbed that I'm going to tell you anyway, are "theater", spelled with an "er" at the end and not the snobby "re", and "music."

So, the other night with a fever of over 100 degrees, I plopped down on the couch, probably feeling a bit like an Argentinian wine: unappreciated. And I dug kind of deep, because one of the people who tagged me had a FB friend who he tagged write some pretty revealing things about herself. And I took her lead, because it was kind of interesting for me to read these incredibly personal and potentially hurtful details about this stranger. She broke the mold, as they say. Man, honesty in this world is rare, isn't it?

I am so sick and tired of irony and world-weariness.

And being unemployed, you just don't get that stroke that you get when you're out there being a part of things, not that I was a part of anything when I was out there in the working world. Here's a news flash people: It's all smoke and mirrors. It's all a ruse.

So I guess, deep down, it was all just me crying to out to be recognized. Yelling out like so many others that I exist and I'm worth taking notice of.

I've been criticized in the past for writing too personally on this blog. What will potential employers think? (I hope that anyone who is looking for a writer will see that I'm the real deal, that's what I hope they think.) That blogging is nothing more than an exercise in self-absorption. Yeah, I can see the arguments. I can also make the argument, as I do so often, that I truly believe that we are all in this together, connected in ways we can't see. Not connected by the Internet, but a real universal web that transcends time and space. Think Einstein. And that shared experiences, learning how others experience called life, can be a good thing.

So, because I know you're all so intrigued with me and everything about me, here's the list, taken from Facebook:


1. I'm only doing this because Grant tagged me and so did Jess and I am feeling awfully guilty about not playing along. So that's #1...I pretend I'm a rebel, actually revel in it, but deep down I just want to belong like everyone else.

2. Despite wanting to belong I prefer being on the fringe. I know it's contradictory; deal with it.

3. I would prefer to be an animal than a human any day. My first choice would be a coyote. They're awfully smart and hang out on the fringe.

4. I wish I was a better guitar player. I would, like Robert Johnson, make a deal with the devil to make it so. I wouldn't give my soul, though. I'd trade all my acting ability. To me that's more than a fair deal. We need more guitar players than actors in this world, I think.

5. I wouldn't make the deal at a crossroads at midnight though. I'd prefer mid to late morning.

6. Most of the time I wish I weren't white.

7. When I was really down and out I was in the emergency room and they asked for the name of someone to contact in case of an emergency and all I could give them was the name of my dog, Bob. So, somewhere Robert Greiner-Ferris is listed as my son.

8. I think #7 is awfully funny; please don't feel sorry for me. I hate that.

9. I'm the happiest now than I've been in a long time.

10. Someday Sue and I want to travel around the world together.

11. I keep a list of people I'd want to have a beer with. Jacqueline Onassis is on it. So is Einstein.

12. I think that just as the polar bear has developed huge feet that act like snowshoes in an arctic environment and a voracious appetite and an ugly temper to find food in a world where there is little food, so we have developed emotions like kindness and sympathy and empathy. We are a species capable of destroying ourselves. Without those emotions we would certainly have wiped ourselves out a long time ago. They're surely survival traits. Have you ever known a polar bear to exercise kindness and empathy?

13. I have to be in the middle of reading a book. If not, something's just out of kilter in my life. I'm currently reading two books.

14. Although both my parents came from large families, I'm pretty much an orphan. Once I call Sue, Kathryn, Allison, and John, I'm pretty much tapped out. And I only have a couple of really good friends. I don't mind it though. I used to want a big wonderful family and a huge social life, but now I know it's won't come in this life and I''m okay with that.

15. There's actually an incredible amount of strength that comes with the ability to be by yourself.

16. This seems to me that it should be a big finish, but I can't think of anything that comes close to fireworks. So, I'll just leave by saying I truly believe we as a society have yet to understand that those who inflict emotional pain are no different than those who inflict physical pain. They're thugs, any way you look at it. And we as a species have not developed the senses to see the actual human parts that hurt. They're there; we just can't see them yet. Just because Bob can't see red, doesn't mean the color red doesn't exist. I can hit you and be arrested, and for good reason. But you can inflict emotional pain and nothing will happen. But the pain is the same.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

The Jayhawks: Angelyne

I always have to be digging around.

I've known about The Jayhawks for a while. Have downloaded some of their files. As a matter of fact, the first time I ever saw Lucinda Williams, The Jayhawk opened for her. So, yeah, I've been aware of them for awhile.

But last night I was looking through the current No Depression "bookazine" and read a review of Ready for the Flood by Mark Olson and Gary Louris, which I guess, according to Amazon.com, is due out tomorrow. Remember: You heard it first here. Action Bob Markle at the forefront of the music world.

Anyway, The Jayhawks, and all those bands that aren't around anymore like Uncle Tupelo and Whiskeytown seemed to get what Gram Parsons was trying to do with country music, that those stoned-out hippies in Laurel Canyon couldn't figure out. Country rhythms with mature, poetic lyrics and a few sophisticated key changes--not shit about my pickup truck or tractor or all those freakin' bar songs and workin' and payin' the bills.

It's just nice stuff. Like this song, Angelyne. Don't expect to get your socks blown off. Expect your foot to start tapping and the song to stay in your head for a couple of days. Isn't that really all it's supposed to do?




Here comes the weather
It's looking like another storm
If all desire
Would leave this tired boy alone

Hopes haunt me like ghosts
They point their fingers
Grass grows in the cracks
Wind makes me shiver

Angelyne, forgive me
We threw it all away
You could never stand living with a man
Who could only lead you half way to love

I tried to fake it
But you wouldn't play along
I watched you naked
Innocent and holding on

Snowflakes make your bones ache in the winter
Your face will not fade, it will just linger

Angelyne, forgive me
We threw it all away
You could never stand living with a man
Who could only lead you half way
Angelyne, forgive me
We threw it all away
I could never fit into your plans
I'm nobody's man

Don't you tell me how to live my life
Don't you tell me how to live my life

Angelyne, forgive me
We threw it all away
You could never stand living with a man
Who could only lead you half way
Angelyne, forgive me
We threw it all away
I could never fit into your plans
I'm nobody's man

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Journey in Ladakh

From A Journey in Ladakh.



"Have you become a Buddhist?"

"Labels do not interest me. I have found a man in whose good power and spirit I believe and that gives me strength. In the East we believe that the connection between Master and Pupil is stronger and more important than any doctrinal beliefs, that truth is a living intensity transmitted from person to person, a living experiences, not a set of practices or even philosophical positions. I revere Buddhism; I meditate in Buddhist ways; but I would not call myself a Buddhist or a Hindu. I am a man searching to understand myself, before it is too late, after a rather spoiled and ignorant life. That is all."


and...


"The Tantric way is harder and demands a greater purity and fearlessness. It is harder to love the world than to leave it; it is harder to accept with joy and gratitude than to renounce; it is harder to work with our emotions of greed and desire and anger, to face them and transform them slowly into loving power, than it is to cut them off, to deny them. And because it is harder the rewards are greater."


and...


"We call a man a Rinpoche, which means diamond, hen he has achieved perfection. We do not believe that man is a flawed animal; we believe he is capable of perfection. Buddhist do not believe in God; they believe in man, in the transforming powers within man. We call a man a diamond when has transformed ever evil in himself into wisdom, every dark energy into an energy of light, every movement of hatred or impatience into a blessing. We know that it is possible. Many men have achieved it within our tradition and that is how we know that it is possible. We have seen it and we have felt it from living men. It is not a fantasy, it is an experience, as real as lying on this bed in this cold room, as watching those shadows on the wall, as hearing the snores of the monks from the other room. We call a man a diamond also when he has gone beyond himself, beyond his old identity and personality. He becomes not just a man, but a woman and a child as well, a Mother and a boy and an old woman and an old man, a prince and a Yogi, a King and a beggar and a girl. A man who no longer wants to be anything becomes everything; a man who is free of desire and self-consciousness enters with Love into all things and all people, and all things and people come to him without fear. I have spoken with so many Westerners. They say, "All this is beautiful--but it is not realistic, it is not truthful." I say to them, "Are you certain that you and your culture know all that is real, know all the limits of reality? Are you certain that you have exhausted the truth?" They are frightened. They are frightened that they do not know everything, that they have been cheated. You see, they were told that their culture was superior, knew the answers to all ills and injustices...and now it is collapsing. They have been told, "Trust to the Intellect! Trust to Reason!" and it is good to use both, it is good--but how can either penetrate to truth? It is in the spirit and in the heart that perfection is found, and when it is found there it irradiates the reason, makes the intellect perfect. We call a man a diamond when his heart is a mind and his mind is a heart, when there is no separation between the two, when both are illumined. I am not a man like that; I may never be. But I have seen men like that. I have known them and loved them and they have given me faith--not in any God, but in myself, in the powers I have hidden within myself, that we all have hidden within ourselves and must uncover and realise. And now I must sleep. Even a great Tantric yogi must sleep--" and Nawang rolled over and slept, snoring almost immediately, his big dirty feet sticking out from the end of his blanket, his dark glasses resting by him on the pillow."

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The next day: Day One for Obama

I don't know if it's post inauguration euphoria or the darn winter around here, but I'm feeling under the weather today. Chills. The start of body aches. But I got to keep on plugging away. It's like I can hear the clock ticking.

I have so much work to do, and not feeling well doesn't make it easy to memorize scripts, study music theory, or work on finding work. It just makes me want to crawl in bed and pull the covers over my head. That's how I get when I get sick. I just want to crawl in a hole and be left alone.

A staffing agent called me yesterday after I got home from watching the inauguration in Boston to ask me what was up. She had nothing, with nothing on the horizon. The people she talked to had all laid people off, so they weren't going to hire even contract workers.

But...

I'm...hopeful. That's a very human emotion. It's what gets a lot of us out of bed in the morning despite all signs saying otherwise. I don't think polar bears or sea otters or wolverines hope. We do though. Hope is just one of the many emotions we've developed to keep the species going.

But now that President Obama is safely ensconced in the White House, I guess I can come out with it all. I am hopeful. He's better than what we had in there. (Hell, a kangaroo would have been better. A platypus. A mushroom. Anything or anyone. Was there ever a more inept person running this country?)

But Obama is still a politician, and just as I wrote to someone today, I don't trust politicians at all. Period. I'm old enough to remember Camelot, and just like the war in Iraq has a lot of parallels to Vietnam, the Obama administration is looking a lot like 1961.

And, while his outlook and views are, I think, just what this country needs right now, just like Gerald Ford's milquetoast was exactly what the country needed after Nixon, he is faced with problems that seem almost insurmountable.

But I did like what I heard yesterday. Particularly about making the hard choices and the economy. We're all just going to have to do with less, and that's going to be harder for some than others.

And I think that's a good thing, too. I think the unwonted materialism of this country made many of us compromise our values to the point where many didn't even know we were compromising them anymore. People had to pay for their double-mortgaged houses and SUVs and wide-screen televisions, all paid for with credit. Rather than make our lives better, it made us mean and selfish.

It seems that over the past generation or two, we've become a divided country. You can see it on our magazine stands. There are magazines for acoustic guitars, electric guitars, metal guitars. Name a substrata of human being and there's a magazine for it.

And there was a time when we needed to divide up a bit. African-Americans had to circle the wagons and gain an identity. Women and gays had to fight for rights. And so on.

And that was all a good thing.

But now I think the pendulum is ready to swing the other way, and we have to start looking at ourselves again as one big mighty nation of people. That's pretty much what I heard yesterday.

Obama has a vision for unity. But the nuts and bolts of running a country and breathing life into a dead economy are still the things that gave people pause during the election.

Today is Day One. For Obama.

For me, and a lot of people like me, it's just any other day.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Innaguration Day Boston

I'm a photographer and a writer, not by choice, but because that's the way I was made. Like I tell my daughter who is studying journalism: Are you sure? You have to have ink in your veins.

I went out and documented Innaguration Day in Boston. I have .avis that for some reason won't upload to blogspot. Hmmm...maybe it's time to move addresses.

Anway, I saw so many signs of the failing economy out there. Sure, there were pretty pictures, too. But you know, the signs are there, people. The cracks are showing. And frankly, someone with my sensibilities should be listened to. I'm just saying.

It was a gorgeous day, though. After all the snow. It was cold and crisp and it was the kind of day that lets you know you're alive. And Boston is a pretty city in the snow.

In the Wollaston CVS.







Her sign said she came there everyday and put down 100 stones to commemorate the lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over alongside Trinity Church, on Boylston.









One tough-looking Obama.

Overflow at the Old South Church, listening to President Obama's speech.













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Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Monument Valley

I haven't posted--make that stolen--music and posted it here for awhile. This is a good one by the Drive By Truckers.

Songs get in my head, a lot, then I have to chase them down. I see them, hear them, on the far side of the property, and ride over to see what's what. It's not often they skeedaddle; mostly they're there for a reason.

But it's easier here, in the apartment, for me to run them down then listen to them, just getting it over with. I think when I was standing on a subway platform, in limbo in a cubicle, or trying to remain visible in the invisible city, a song had more reason for being.

Anyway...

Sue and I fell in love with Monument Valley. We spent her 50th birthday there. Because of that, and more, it will always hold a special place in my heart.

And as the song puts it so eloquently, "the ironic nature of history."

Ah, irony, indeed.





THE MONUMENT VALLEY

It’s all about where you put the horizon
Said the Great John Ford to the young man rising
You got to frame it just right and have some luck of course
And it helps to have a tall man sitting on the horse
Tell them just enough to still leave them some mystery
A grasp of the ironic nature of history
A man turns his back on the comforts of home
The Monument Valley to ride off alone

And when the dust all settles and the story is told
History is made by the side of the road
By the men and women that can persevere
And rage through the storm, no matter how severe
And whether it’s a horse or a car or a train
There’s gonna be some fine times and there’s gonna be some pain
In the end it’s a silhouette framed by the sun
And just The Monument Valley when the evening comes

It’s a strong wind blowing on the open range
It’s gonna be beautiful and it’s gonna be strange
It’s where to plant the camera and when to say action
When to print the legend and when to leave the facts in
And when to turn your back on the comforts of home
And wander round The Monument Valley alone

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mediocrity and Internet: Comcast, ATT, et. al.

Well, lookee here...the Internet is up today. Comcast worked the kinks out of the wire and today, lo and behold, the little electrons are running through it as slick as if the cable had been RotoRouted.

I think RotoRouted is a verb. Anyway you know what I mean.

Comcast had no idea what the problem was, or even if there was a problem. The techie on the other end of the phone said there weren't any outages and everything was fine (oh yeah, says you) but what I learned from previous encounters with Comcast is that the customer service people, despite what's on their screens, have no idea at all what's going on in the field. And the field and the customer service people don't talk, much less get along. Customer service will just tell you to unplug the modem, count to fifteen, then plug it in again. Oh yeah, reboot the computer. That might work. It's all pretty lame.

Yesterday we couldn't log on, couldn't print, couldn't do much of anything except look at files stored on our disk. Vacation pictures can get a little worn after awhile. Which got me to thinking--agai--about how much we depend on the Internet and technology in general for the day to day doings of our lives.

It's bone-breaking cold out there. I wonder what the temp is. I'll just hit that little button that brings up the local weather and...doh!

Look up a book I heard about. Shop for shirts. Look for a replacement part for the blender. Get my homework for class. Apply for a job. Check my bank balance (kinda important when you're low on funds and you have to write some checks.) Research the two artists I have to interview this weekend. Network with colleagues to further my job search. Send some people who said they'd be my references an email letting them know potential employers will be calling them and I need the work so please don't tell them I'm an axe murderer. These are just some of the things I wanted to do yesterday and for which I needed the Internet.

Trivial and important, we depend/rely/count on/stake our lives on technology and the providers. And the thing about it is, when the Internet goes down, we always say the same thing, It always craps out at the absolute wrong time. That's because, now, there's no good time for the Internet to go down. That's how much we've come to depend on it.

We use the Internet to support vital parts of our lives like our jobs and our work. We use it for the not-so-vital but just as important personal aspects like keeping in touch with our friends and family.

The last time I blogged about this topic Universal Hub picked up Action Bob and I got slammed by the geeky little audience there because I was "whining"--their word, not mine--that Sue needed the Internet to find a location when she went out on the Hotline. The comments came fast and hard. Don't be an idiot and rely on Comcast for something as vital as your job. (Just accept mediocrity.) Get a GPS. (Invest in even more technology.) Get a map. (Get off the technology wagon immediately.) Get a life. (I'm not sure what that angry diatribe was about, considering it came from people who had no lives themselves except to use the Internet to post long-winded diatribes.)

I'll say it once, and I'll keep saying it. The service providers today, particularly ISPs but also cell phones and cable television, don't seem to realize or care that their services are more vital and important to us than they ever have been. And I'm not talking about the importance of watching the Super Bowl or American Idol. I'm talking about the dissemination of information in a democracy.

My cell phone provider, ATT, but it was Cingular at the time, actually ran an advertising campaign once that said, We have less dropped calls than the other guys." You're not supposed to have any dropped calls at all. What if a brain surgeon worked on that principle? I have fewer slip-ups than the other docs? And Comcast and ATT and all the rest aren't doing brain surgery.

I guess thank God for that.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, JP

This isn't going to be easy. Writing about my father.

Today, was his birthday. Or at least this is the day he said was his birthday. The thing with dad was this: You never knew if he was telling the truth. You never knew if he was intentionally lying or just flat out didn't know and just said whatever he thought was true. So today may or may not have been his birthday.

That's why I always refer to him as my alleged father. Although people say I look like him. And some might say I act like him, too. Who knows. He's been dead for 25 years now. Died of a final heart attack after a long series of heart attacks. He had the big one while watching the Cincinnati Reds. He'd get so upset watching them my mom would tell him to calm down. Yeah, well, you should have listened to her, you old goat. You should have listened to her for once in your life.

He was orphaned at around three (so he said) and was raised by different family members and out on the streets in Cincinnati. It was never clear even where he was born. He said Cincinnati. For some reason Rushville, Indiana also sticks in my mind. He supposedly went to Purcell High School in Cincinnati. Somewhere in there he joined the army.

Oh, yeah, we got to talk about the army when we're talking about dad. All while I was growing up I believed he had been a sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division during WW II. Italy. Normandy Beach. The Battle of the Bulge. When I was little I read accounts of the campaigns because he had been there. Or so he said. That's how I figured out he never served. There was a picture of him that he said was taken on V-E Day. He's standing on a street corner in Cincinnati. From all the reading I did I knew something was wrong. Weren't you supposed to be outside Berlin on V-E Day? And so his story unraveled. Yeah, I think he even called me a smart little shit. Yeah, I guess I was.

He was in the army maybe, maybe a couple of months, then was discharged. How the hell can you carry that lie around with you and expect to make it stick?

And God only knows why he was discharged. I tracked his military records to a burned-down warehouse in St. Louis where his tracks go cold. I do know he was pardoned by President Eisenhower. Jesus, Dad, couldn't you have least have told me about that? I mean, in some ways, it's kind of like having a pirate for a father, and that's kind of cool.

This right here is the crux of my father. He lied. He lied like a rug. All the time. It turns out his family name wasn't Ferris, but Fruttoso. Yeah, I'm like 50% Guinea but have no way to prove it. When you asked him why he changed his name you got one of several answers. One was he did it to honor his buddy in the war, who had died. Well, we know that wasn't it. He said he changed it after the war because of hatred shown towards Italians. Uh, nah, there really isn't any documentation that supports that. He said that the name is too close to the Italian word for "filthy." Hmmm...

I can go on and on and on, stories and fabrications and lies. Big, little, and flat out whoppers.

Your dog didn't die, Johnny, I just gave him to a guy I work with who owns a farm. Yes! I am not kidding. The classic dead doggie lie is part of my life. And I can't tell you the hit you take when you eventually learn the truth. And it never fails to hit you either. No matter how many times you dig out the truth, there's that initial slap to the face that you can't duck or dodge. You just have to take it. There is no way to defend yourself when trust is broken.

And yeah, there was a lot of anger in me growing up. You never knew what was what. And it wasn't long after he died, which I hate to say in so many ways was an enormous relief, that I wished we could have had one long talk. If he lied, well, he lied because he didn't like himself and wanted to reinvent himself. He never felt good about himself, because of his upbringing, his lack of education, his blue-collar, rough ways, and so he made up stories to build himself up.

And I would have like to have told him a couple of things.

First, Dad, none of that really meant anything to me. You could have been any way you wanted and I would have loved you. Like I tried to tell someone else who was in my life a few years ago, someone else who dealt a lot in deceit. It's all window dressing. Anything. Jobs, college degrees, accomplishment like being the first to climb a mountain. All that heroes and villains stuff, is only so much window dressing. None of that stuff means a damn to me. It's true: It's simply who you are inside that's what's important.

And the other thing I'd want to tell him: When you lie like you did, you hurt a lot of people around you. You were trying to save yourself at the expense of a lot of other people, and that's not right or fair. I'm just saying. When you try to build yourself up that way, you tend to tear someone else down. It just seems to work that way.

Because of him I have absolutely no tolerance for lies or deceit in any form. Posers, people who present themselves as something they are not just for the adulation they crave, will get nothing from me except repulsion. People who lie, well, it's not that hard to just tell the truth, as hard as it may seem. Because I know that eventually the lie will come to the surface. It always does. And then it's always worse.

And still, I wish he was around. He made a crummy father. But because he was such a character he would have made a first-class grandfather. And what I missed out on, my daughters would have made up in spades.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Jellyfish at the New England Aquarium














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Please sir, can you spare a dime?

Last week I pored over my contacts and made a list. This morning I started making calls. And I was hesitant about picking up the phone. Which is weird because a lot of the names on the list are people who I worked with for a number of years, and for whom I did some really good work. Again, it's all that business about not having a job...the default feelings that come with it all that you're just not up to snuff. Plus there's the fear of rejection.

But you just do it, and suddenly, it's so easy. The first place I called even had it on record that I had contacted them in the summer, and that I had been giving them a heads up that I'd probably be looking soon. And then the remembrance of those ensuing five months--five months!...I twisted in the wind for five months!--flooded into my head, of all that uncertainty at the agency and it just wasn't a lot of fun. You make do. You make your own fun. But getting the axe was the best thing, really. In some ways, I do feel sorry for the people who were left.

And it wasn't much to get back into things. I'm good at this, building, working, organizing, and I like a challenge. I don't run. And selling yourself is a good thing because it brings to the forefront of your mind who you are and your worth. It's quite an affirming thing to realize that you really do have something to offer.

And the most ridiculous part about this is I am a writer and an actor. Hell, we're supposed to be out of work, aren't we? It's a great time to re-evaluate and plan and try something new. Kathryn even said to me last night that I should pursue the one thing that I really love--photography. Young people know, and are fearless. Just do it, they think.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday snow day

It dumped something like six to eight inches of snow last night. I was up for a lot of it. It's nice to sit in a big old house with a storm raging outside.

We had gone to bed early and when I got up Sue woke and said, "Can't sleep? Same old same old?" And I responded, saying, "Nah, I just don't need twelve hours of sleep anymore."

I surfed the 'net, read a lot of the news, and read on The Daily Beast about the continuing adventures of Alexandra Penney, who lost everything in Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme. She's a pretty good writer, articulate, and best of all honest. She just throws her heart out there. But just as interesting were the reader comments. I love letters to the editor and other ways that people weigh in with their opinion. They're like unsolicited opinion polls, and you can get a good read on the country if you keep up on them. It's why I like talk radio. (Surprise, surprise, huh?) It's not the hosts I like. I like to hear what the listeners have to say, and every so often I think, "I never thought of that before."

Anyway, I was amazed by how brutal the comments were. A lot of people have absolutely no sympathy for the women now that she can't stay at the Four Seasons and has to stay at a Hampton Court when she travels, and writes about it. Dollars to donuts if any of those people had the money she used to have (and who actually earned it, btw, writing) they wouldn't be staying in Hampton Courts either.

Pretty much stayed in today, too, as much as my brain is saying, Get out. Go snowshoeing. Rent some skis and get out in the woods. Instead we stayed in; Sue cleaned while I made some homemade pasta and a pot of sauce. We talked to Al for awhile, always a nice treat. She's loving Spain and Spanish and European ways. She's amazed by how her hostess--her senora, she calls her--conserves, ticking off a list like the hot water heater they have and how they turn off their lights. I said to Sue afterwards, You tell a kid a thousand times to turn off the lights, but a European says it one time and it's eye-opening. But that's why we travel, to learn new ways, and she seems to be off to a good start.

I didn't want to, but Bob needed a good walking. He's old, but the snow turns him into a puppy again. I pulled on my parka and boots and we headed out, and when we turned up a hill, he chugged along and I related to him how he and I used to hike in the Whites, and he used to run thirty yards ahead of me down the trail. He's a good little conversationalist, meaning he's a good listener. He looks like a little bear, and I finally trained him to stay behind me because more than once he started people coming down the trail the other way, who actually thought they had run into a real bear. I wondered if he and I have one good mountain hike left in us, but he didn't answer.

It was so pretty out, though, in the neighborhood in the fading light, so we went back to the apartment to get the camera, and Sue decided to join us. I know, it's not the most exciting life, but we like it.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

I'm happy...so what's wrong with me?

I don't know. There must be something wrong with me because I can't wipe this grin off my face.

Despite the news, despite the daily feed of downers, I just can't seem to stop shaking this optimistic feeling I have. And maybe it's because I've seen some tough times. I blogged about it the other day. And when you've experienced some of the stuff that I've been through, you learn to take each day one at a time. You take what the day gives you, and if it gives you a smile, you learn to humbly accept it and be grateful, knowing that tomorrow may not be so.

Today it was reported that 524,000 jobs were lost in December. And I was one of them. The U.S. unemployment rate is now at 7.2%, the highest it's been since January, 1993, the first time I was laid off. Just this week I learned of two other friends who were laid off, and another buddy who's been out of work for a few months said in an email that things were getting "rustic." Jobs are scarce.

But not only could things be worse, there is a lot of good things going on. Not that you stick your head in the sand and just notice the good and ignore the bad. I think what you do is just deal with life as it comes, good and bad, and when the bad comes don't let it overshadow the other parts of life.

And realize that things could be worse. Like I wanted to tell the exec who laid me off a month ago. He had such a long face, I wanted to ask him: Are you going to take my kids away? Are you going to tell me I have cancer?

Here's a little something about Sue: She's blind in one eye and has glaucoma in the other. Most likely someday she'll be blind. But she gets up every day smiling. I mean really smiling. In the years I've known her now, I don't think I've ever seen her get up grumpy.

Today on Facebook one of my FB Friends' status line is that he's grateful for 11 years of sobriety. That's something to smile about.

Yesterday I spoke with my daughter in Spain on Skype. How cool is that? But more to the point, like I blogged about the other day, she and I have gone through some tough times together, and that I still have her in my life is something to celebrate every day.

Not to mention my other lovely daughter, Kathryn, who has always been my little buddy, even though she's almost as tall as me.

I'm not a blithering idiot. I still wake up in the middle of the night, worrying, or maybe the better word is, wondering. Just like the other night. And Sue was awake, too; her back was keeping her awake. And we laid there in the dark, talking, sometimes laughing, sometimes just being there together. And Bob, good old Bob, The Wonder Aussie, was snoring contentedly on the old sleeping bag he uses for a bed, and Sue said, Listen to him. Not a care in the world. And we laughed.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Low Anthem's To Ohio NPR song of the day

The Low Anthem's To Ohio is NPR's Song of the Day.

The Low Anthem is a band I've blogged about a bit. It's so nice to see such fine folks continue to make music and get recognized for it.

There's a good file at the NPR site, but just for fun I've added one from YouTube.


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A trip to the unemployment office

Well, first, it's not called the unemployment office anymore. It's called the...drumroll, maestro...The Career Center. Ta-da. No it is not a Career Center. Let's face facts here, people. It's the unemployment office because you go there because you're unemployed.

I tried to sign up for unemployment benefits--that's code for money--a couple of times over the phone, but the sheer volume of people seeking career advice--that's more code for money--caused the Career Center to implode. First I was shunted to another day based on the last digit of my social security number, and then when I called on that day I was held in a holding pattern, eating up my cell minutes like Pacman on speed, then after about twenty minutes I was unceremoniously disconnected.

So I decided to go in, in person. With much trepidation, I might add. Because in this country, it is shameful and embarrassing to be out of work, or poor, or just not a bright and shiny lie. But heck, I'm an actor and a writer. I need life experiences to keep my creative juices flowing.

And you know what? It wasn't that bad. As a matter of fact, it wasn't bad at all. Just regular folks needing a little help. I even saw a woman there who I used to see on the T when I commuted. Small world. We're all in this together, people.

I took two books I'm reading: A Journey in Ladakh by Andrew Harvey and One Man's Wilderness by Sam Keith. (Sorry. I haven't updated weRead on Facebook. I've been a little busy.) Both books are about people searching for spirituality, each in their own way. One, in Ladakh, India, and the other in Alaska.

The Career Center was a bit hard to find, sort of tucked away on a side street. I asked a UPS driver where it was. He told me, and he was the one who ruefully told me it was called the Career Center now, and we laughed, then he said there were a lot of people there and wished me good luck. Boy I tell you, the regular response of people when they learn you got laid off is that you've been diagnosed with cancer.

It wasn't that crowded. I expected the place to look like they were giving away Springsteen tickets, but it was quiet and friendly. I had to fill out a form, then sit for a bit longer than an hour. I read a bit about the man building a log cabin in Alaska, then while I was reading about the British intellectual looking for spiritual enlightenment in India, my name was called.

A brief meeting with a consultant, and I was out of there.

Oh, and I also learned that the state is hiring prison guards. Now there's a job for a writer/actor.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Be Kind

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The mended vase

I think when people say that a broken heart or a broken family can be mended and healed, there should be a caveat added. It's as if you've been in a serious auto accident, and the doctors piece you together. Perhaps all the outward appearances are back in place--sort of. You'll again walk or run or even play the piano, but not like before.

It's much like piecing together a rare and beautiful vase. All the pieces may be glued back together again, and it retains its former shape. But there will be noticeable, ugly cracks. And although it may again hold water, it won't be as much as before and it will leak.

This is always driven home to me in the most unexpected times, although by now I should be used to it. I guess that just points to a blind spot I have, something that we all have. Blind spots are, as much as anything, there for protection. We just don't want to look there. The view hurts. But sometimes life just grabs us with both hands and twists our heads around and holds us there, forcing us to look with eyes wide open. It's for our own good, as much as anything.

My oldest daughter, Allison, just left to study in Spain for five months, and I'm so happy and excited for her. Travel, for me, is the ultimate experience and education. I was a bit younger than her when I hefted a backpack and started my wanderings. But it also means that the little bit of time that I ever saw her will be reduced to zero. Sure, there's email and Skype, but now there's 3,000 miles of ocean that is added to the gulf between us and, particularly with a the job loss, while there now is time to travel, there isn't money for a plane ticket to Spain.

She was 12 years old when I left her mother for another woman. As much as anything, it was imminently clear that Al didn't see it as me leaving her mother, as me leaving her. We were buddies, having music and camping and our own quirky personalities in common. A few months ago, when she told me she was going to Spain and start her wandering, she told me she remembered being on the beach as a family, and me always taking her hand in mine and saying, "C'mon, let's take a walk and see what's around that bend." We're both explorers, seekers (it's inked into my shoulder now), always wondering what's around that bend, and she got that from me.

And to this day, while she says she's over it and she's forgiven me, she still at times harbors anger towards me. Of course she does. I don't blame her. And I try as best as I can to let her vent that anger. After all, it's not just my duty, but my responsibility as a human being and my love for her that induces me to do it. In our society, we can't direct our anger at the source. People who deserved to be beaten with a two by four, myself included, are let off scott-free, while the injured party is left to suffer and keep it inside, where it just eats away at us. In lieu of the guilty party being punished, we've turned the healing process into redirecting the anger.

And Allison, like so many other people I've talked to whose parents divorced, is adamantly driven to make a family work and, if it's in her future, a marriage work. Because the truth of the matter is this: In a divorce, the only ones who make out are the lawyers, and the ones who take the brunt are the kids.

A day doesn't go by that I don't think of what I've done to my children. Unhappy in a marriage, and afterwards I learned, depressed, I met a woman in community theater, of all places, who I thought loved me and wanted to be with me. At least that's what she said in person and in single-spaced 12-page letters and God knows how many emails and phone calls. And after almost a year of a lot of soul-searching, I left my family, knowing I was tearing apart my life and those around me but stupidly thinking I could rebuild a better one for me and my kids.

Well, if someone told me this story today I'd knowingly nod my head, realizing full well what was coming. As soon as I left my family, the passion was over--for her. Yes, there are women in this world who are simply home wreckers. Who thrive on the chase and when they get what they want have no compunction about just shucking things and moving on with their lives. Needless to say, I've never felt so stupid and duped and angry and miserable in my entire life.

Me: You said you loved me.
Her: Well, I meant it when I said it.

Good God. In my defense, and I know it's thin, I honestly thought I was doing right. I remember from my days as a Catholic that the Church teaches that you can break the Commandments if you truly believe deep in your heart that you are doing right. Baxter, intellectual Catholic that he is, has even told me the name for that position, though I can't remember it now.

And so, when I sit in Logan across from daughter, who's laughing and so excited to be embarking on a new phase in her life, I'm so sad because due to my undoing and stupidity, I never got to see how she grew into this wonderful human being. As the kids' mother tells me, though, I should look at things on the continuum. Things are better today than they were even a year ago. Things get better. You can't put things back together the way they were, but you can make something different.

And every day is new, something I've learned. I have Sue, who truly does love me for who I am, who didn't selfishly and irresponsibly try me on like a coat in Filene's Basement, look in the mirror, and shuck me on the floor. She does want to make a life with me, a life of traveling and sometimes just sitting together on a summer's evening on the front porch, both of us lost in our own thoughts but still connected by a touch on the hand, or a simple smile, a beautiful smile. She says she loves me today and will mean it tomorrow. Both kids like her, and see that I'm happy, and I somehow suspect that there is a rueful acceptance of that. They wish the the hurt and fractures weren't there, but they can see some good came out of it all. And maybe that the vase is mended.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

2008 in review

Thanks from Jack...I guess there was something to smile about...

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Friday night, and the week is over

Boston.com picked up yesterday's blog. That's always a nice thing, when someone, like an editor, picks Action Bob. It pretty much validates what goes on here, or on any blog or creative outlet for that matter--a stage, a canvas, a page, whatever--that the author does have something worthwhile to say. That the person is does have something worthwhile to share. It's a nice pick-me-up. Damnit, I can write to make people sit up and notice. I always could. And I always will.

It's fun to watch the analytic software tic off the numbers, and watch the graph take that steep climb posting the numbers.

I have to admit that after writing yesterday's post, it was a bit difficult to hit the publish button. But it only goes to prove that the truth is worth something.

I didn't write yesterday's blog to garner sympathy. I'm long past sympathy. Like I wrote on my Facebook status line yesterday, John is comfortable in his own skin. I've pretty much accepted who and what I am, and when that happens with any person, it's a wonderful thing. You suddenly gain a lot of peace in your life.

I wasn't sure what to write today. I had ideas. And I guess if it's truth you want, well, I'll give you another helping today.

Sue went out on a call again in the middle of last night. She's working extra to compensate for me losing my job, though she said she'd be doing it anyway for the extra money, even if I wasn't laid off. I know that's true, but I hate to see her going out in the middle of the night like that, in the dark and the cold. It was something like 13 degrees last night when she went out on the call.

And it's not easy for somebody like me to watch--and here's where it gets tricky--Sue and I aren't married, but we might as well be, the way we live and act and run our household. But I've never in my adult life had anyone support me. I've been pretty much working steady since I was 12 years old. I'm not making that up or even stretching the truth. By the time I was in my mid-teens I was working and buying my own clothes and pulling a good part of my own way. This stings the ego a bit, I have to admit.

So I got up today and was going to blog today about how gray the day was, but it was too depressing. I want to put positive things down here, although sometimes you got to go backwards to go forwards, if you understand what I'm saying. I'm not a Pollyanna, and I'm not always going to be writing about sunny days. If it's rainy, damnit I'll write about the rain. I've never understood people who say, when I was little we were poor, but we didn't know it because we had love. I want to say, what were you, stupid? How can you be that dumb to not know you were poor? Couldn't you see what kind of car your friends' families were driving, then look at yours? Couldn't you see the Sear catalog clothes you were wearing, then see the department store clothes your friends were wearing? No, poor is poor, and poor hurts sometimes.

Anyway, I've experienced this so many times. You get up feeling bad, just beat on. Then, before you know it, something good happens, like the Boston.com thing. And you just work bit by bit. I spent the day pulling more samples together. Working on my resume. Nothing was going to happen today. Everyone in the business world was pretty much drooling out of their collective mouths today if they were in the office. Monday is when I hope to see things rolling.

So I worked for awhile, all the time thinking about Sue in the back of my mind. I called her once, and she didn't answer. That's always a bad sign. I tried leaving her alone, but called a bit later and got her and the poor thing sounded so tired. I wanted to see how she was doing, and wanted to have things special when she walked through the door. She said she was so tired and hungry.

So tonight when Sue walks through that door there will be tacos and a nice bottle of Beaujolais waiting for her. And flowers. It's not a lot, nothing fancy, but hopefully it something, enough to get her to understand just how much I love her.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

The first day of the rest of your life...

So, I guess the holidays are officially over, huh? The tree is still up, but will probably come down this weekend though Sue and I have decided to keep the Christmas lights up all year. We just like colors, what can we say?

Christmas is about family, and in the weeks before when the craziness infiltrates our lives, you have to keep reminding yourself of that. But family in itself seems to have its own built-in craziness. I've long ago stopped wishing for a "normal" family. One in which people don't get on each others' nerves. In which everyone talks to one another and a slight isn't blown way out of proportion. In which family members are also friends, and don't engage in some weird, competitive subterfuge for mommy or daddy's love.

The little family I have left amounts to my two daughters and a handful of very good friends. Okay, and there's Bob. You know you're a hurting puupy when you have to include your dog as a family member. There are literally hundreds out there who share my DNA, but aside from a few, I'd be hard-pressed to identify them in a police lineup.

But I think the hard truth is that I am a coward and a failure when it comes to family. I was married once, for about twenty years, and seemed to have failed miserably at that. Growing up, we never knew my father's family. He was orphaned at around three, and was passed from family member to family member. We spent time mostly with my mother's family, but once she died, that link was severed, and after a few years I just let things drop, I guess. I have two sisters--one who I haven't seen since I was around twelve, and the other I have spoken to in maybe six year or so.

I think what happens is parents raise their kids to be what they knew, and since my father was an orphan, that's how he raised us.

All this gets driven home to me in the most unsuspecting times. Yesterday my Cousin Jerry called. Yes, where I come from we call each other Aunt (pronounced like the bug, and not like the heavy, dour, hoity-toity way they say it here in New England), Uncle, or Cousin. And the twenty-minute conversation we had reminded me just how far I've drifted from anything that remotely resembles a good-old American family. His voice was so familiar; I recognized it immediately. But the names and events he talked about held no connection for me. And what's worse, except for a bit of angst that now is causing me to put fingers to keyboard, it doesn't bother me too much. It's just the way it is. As much as I'd like to recapture the days when Cousin Jerry and I played whiffle ball in his back yard, as much as I'd love to start over, beginning in his bedroom listening to the Allman Brothers and Jackson Browne, as much as I'd like to sit and talk to him again over stolen quarts of beer, it's no use.

We weren't a happy family. There were happy times, I don't want to imply there weren't, but strife seemed to be the overriding action. Arguments. Small battles. Grudges. It wasn't a whole lot of fun, to tell the truth. So I left. Ran away really, first to school, then after graduation to Boston, and even when I was living there I didn't spend a lot of time at the actual home. And after I really left most of the time I didn't look back. If things were fine, if things were wonderful at home, would I have left so easily, with so little remorse and with so much anticipation?

My dad died. My mom got sick and I had to take care of her, finally bringing her to my apartment in Brighton where she spent her last days. After that, Christmas cards were sent out, and couple of visits were paid, then things just faded away.

And sometimes I regret it, but most of the time it doesn't seem as if there was anything I could do at all.

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