Category Archives: Personal

Because Time Is Short

Minutes before, I endured a needlessly hateful experience at the retail level. I’d done my diligence and arrived with everything from the company itself to keep the process simple and without hitches. I should’ve known that would have disturbed the gods of Inner Peace & Tranquility. In response to being treated terribly, I gave my creative side permission to unleash a little hell on them. It was gloriously fun. I’ll write about it some other time. I admit that while I engaged in frivolous tomfoolery to repay their savagery, I was disappointed a bit at humanity in general, as if the rest of us were responsible for whatever that behavior was.

Proposed rule: “The greater your belief that you have dotted every ‘i’ and covered every base, the greater the likelihood that hell will rain down upon your head no matter what. And triply so if retail is involved or the word ‘service’ is literally in the job title of the person causing you grief.” I know the spirit of this is already contained in several Murphy’s Law. Nonetheless…

I ate lunch somewhere other than Mr. Taco Loco. (I wanted a lot of pico de gallo.) When asked for my order, I said, “Anything on special. Even cow hooves.” (Because I had no plans to eat it, anyway.) Two women were already seated closely nearby, to my right. Though I wasn’t eavesdropping, I could hear every word they said.

Something about the way they talked hinted at things that weren’t being said. I can’t put my finger on it – nor does it matter. I felt my mood flip to being grateful and for those in my life who could see past my stupidity and issues. It was Divine.

I told the waitress to bring me their check and asked her to say nothing to the two women. I spoke in Spanish, of course. The two women had carefully avoided speaking too loudly when they saw my little mountain of pico de gallo. I don’t know what they made of me. I ate quickly, too.

I paid for all three meals, tip included, and walked back to their table, placing one of my infamous index cards at the end of their table. “I included tip, too,” I said. I pirouetted quickly and marched quickly away from there before a torrent of thank-yous could envelop me. Near the front door sat a table full of construction workers. They looked up at me as I marched. The women behind me were excitedly commenting. I’m assuming the difference in pitch and enthusiasm, combined with me blazing across the floor after a dramatic pirouette confused the construction workers. I half-expected one of them to jump and prevent me from exiting. I laughed loudly and unexpectedly as I walked outside.

Behind me, as I left, I knew I’d surprised a couple of strangers. And that they had something to think about. All of us were a little more buoyant.

No matter who you are, take a moment and think about that sudden overwhelming flip of emotion I experienced at lunch, the one preceded by needless hatefulness and followed by sublime happiness. I hope you’re lucky enough to have people in your life for whom you can do the same.

A Day’s Work

Today, I climbed a tree and sat in it, probably higher than I should have. While I was there, I attached a surprise to one of the branches. Below, people ambled by, unaware that a middle-aged man observed them from above, half-laughing at the absurdity of it. Since losing weight, I’ve climbed several trees. When I climbed down, I wrote a message on a pink index card and propped it against a brick sign. A man walked over, curious. “That’s nice,” he said, as he read the card. In a lemon moment of overconfidence, I hugged him, and he laughed. I briefly told him that I put such cards all over. I also pointed a few feet away, to a rock that had a previous day’s message written on it. He laughed again. “Interesting. I never thought of that.” As he waved and walked away, I said, “You won’t be billed for the hug.”

PS Yesterday, I took a pristine new piece of thick chalk and wandered around, writing messages on the pavement. Some were cryptic, some were specific. A pair of women noted that I was writing. I watched them walk in an arc to read my musings. For my last one, I wrote, “Who is the guy in the green jacket following you?” I walked quickly away and turned once I was out of their line of sight. As they reached the last chalk message, they both immediately turned to scan the path behind them. No green jacket-clad man in sight, of course. And then they laughed. I wonder what they made of it.

A Second Of Your Time

Someone smart asked me in all seriousness, “If life is so short, why do you persist in doing so many things you don’t like? Is it that you don’t like life or that you don’t like yourself? You’re losing a little bit of both each time you do it.” Of course, I pithily answered back and received this barb: “An occasional compromise is totally normal, of course, because so much of life is doing exactly that, but why would you let another person frequently put you in the position of using the finite minutes you’ve been given doing things you don’t like to do.? That’s not their issue – it is yours. And the longer you wait to learn how to get out of this sort of thing is more of your life flying past. It’s gone forever.”

Charcoal Grill

I’ve joked for years that if I ever need dentures or implants that I’m getting BLACK teeth. It’ll be awesome and perhaps scary. Now that I’m dabbling in the infamous rap genre and will have a suitable dark grill to highlight my talent, I’m considering using an artist/stage name I devised several years ago: Charcoal Grill. ..

PS I’ve pretty much got the 50+ rap market cornered here. .

Remember, Beware

I have to start by saying I’m a hypocrite, like so many others. Sometimes people think that I overlook that. Part of that can be attributed to the torrent of words, the river of thoughts that give insight but also confuse people. I’m writing this as I walk, even as my legs protest that they carried me much too far yesterday.

I love genealogy, I looking back into the past. Sometimes maybe I’ll linger a little too fondly. But then I always have the harshness to remind me that I certainly do not idolize the halcyon days. A lot of our lives can be rendered golden through the filter of memory. It’s likely that days like yesterday will one day be gauzy and acquire the patina of remembrance.

One of the ongoing things that I see all of us doing is focusing on the silhouette and the ghosts that precede us. In itself that’s a good thing, to amplify and rejuvenate the memories of people who aren’t with us. Love remembered tends to overpower the love of our daily moments, in part because we often don’t recognize the weight of our moments as we experience them.

Those people had their spot on this Earth. They left their mark, forged bonds, or they didn’t. We should remember them in increments every day as we live our lives. Doing so amplifies the mundane and sometimes transforms our days.

If I linger too long standing on a grave, people around me wither. Our finite number of seconds doesn’t stop or pause or give a pardon for the time we spend looking back. We have to be careful not to squander the opportunity to give nourishment to the people who are breathing in the space with us.

Our ghosts don’t need warm words of acknowledged affection, an arm around their shoulder, or even a moment of silence in the face of anger as life’s moments challenge us.

Fellow hypocrites, join me in this: look back, yes, but look around. I love genealogy.

Along, Into…

Today, I walked more than I have in a few years.

Because it was chilly and the sky was overcast, the atmosphere didn’t feel like May at all. It was glorious. My walk to get there was indeed long, but my feet floated on the grass and pavement as I made my way across town. As I walked, I witnessed several hundred drivers nervously hit their brakes as the increased holiday traffic police presence caught their attention. I passed a massive grove of honeysuckle, whose scent was unique and vibrant; the odd observation is that the same patch also contained more trash than any other single stretch I passed today. I noted that Magnolia Gardens is now Natural State Rock & Republic, a haven for cyclists. (Their website is top-notch, by the way.) The grounds at Magnolia are still beautiful, just like a few of my memories made there. A woman stood on her long, covered porch. As I passed, she offered me a cup of coffee. “Next time,” I told her, and she nodded. I found a picture of a young woman stuck in the criss-cross pattern of a chainlink fence – and couldn’t stop myself from conjecturing what led someone to place it there. (I’ve done the same thing countless times in my life.) I left the picture artfully placed there, hopefully for the next passerby to ponder. I wrote several index cards of messages myself, using a pack of multicolor ones I had forgotten that I had. Some of these I placed on fences, while others I left in cracks on the sidewalk, across tables in open spaces, and a couple in the branches of trees. Some were humorous, some serious. All of them contained hints of me.

On a last-minute whim, I decided to skip a usual walk and instead take a longer one to one of the main cemeteries in Springdale. I visited a couple of graves, including my cousin Jimmy’s. I spent a few moments spouting off one-liners to roast his absence. It’s not something that many people would understand if they overhead me doing so. Jimmy, though? He would howl with appreciation. I imagined his Mom, my Aunt Ardith, rolling her eyes and muttering, “Oh brother!” as I did so. Jimmy’s grave is the closest to the meandering creek on that end, and because of the recent rains, the stream echoed and combined with the birds squawking and announcing their presence.

As I walked along one of the main horizontal streets in the cemetery, I passed a group of men. They were smoking pot and drinking from tallboy cans. I could see them circumspectly look up at me. I’d already decided that my presence might make them nervous. So, I nodded and told them in Spanish to carry on and that no one would disrespect their moment at whomever’s grave they stood. They all nodded, and I left them in peace.

It’s a moment Jimmy would have appreciated. No matter how his life ended up, he was a devout admirer of marijuana when he was younger. For anyone who would mind me saying so, Jimmy wouldn’t. Now that eight years have elapsed since his death, I am sure that all truths, both small and large, bear him no harm. Whether he lies in eternal silence or walks in his idea of heaven, I know that he’d laugh and say, “F’em.”

I left the cemetery, trying to decide whether I should walk further. I walked quite a way in the opposite direction before opting to walk back to downtown. Emma was closed off, and people were setting up tables and chairs along the main street. Vendors were scattered along the same path, extending up to Shiloh Square and Turnbow Park.

I ate at Mr. Taco Loco (because life is too damn short to miss a chance to do so). I spent a few minutes waiting for my food and inadvertently listening to several tables full of people gossipping and saying things louder than they probably intended to. Though I had headphones on, I wasn’t listening to music, though they probably assumed I was tuned out to them. In honor of this, I’d like to give a shout-out to Nathan, who is never returning to the job he hates and is using the excuse of the holiday to miss all next week: his employer thinks he had a death in the family. Rock on, Nathan.

To my surprise, I convinced myself to forego an Uber back to my house. I’m glad I did, although my legs are complaining a bit already about my choice. I tried to focus on walking to the next traffic light and no further. Usually, as I make these small commitments, the walk doesn’t seem as daunting. I feel like there’s a metaphor or analogy for life in this somewhere.

By the time I made it back several hours later, the sun was out, and making my choice of wearing a light jacket a regret. I still carried the shadows from along the creek in my head, though. No one can see them, nor the smell of dozens of honeysuckle plants in my nose. I’m not sure why I know I’ll remember this walk for years to come. In part, it will be the length, yes. The other facet is that each of us is a work in progress, often unaware that we’ve shifted in ways both insignificant and transformational.

Love, X

A Follow-Up on Miley

Yesterday, I posted on my blog about the Miley Cyrus cover of “Heart Of Glass.” I hadn’t seen the live video until then. Several people commented, and all who did so loved the song. Regardless, such things are subjective as hell. That’s okay. There are times when I can’t explain why some songs earworm their way into my head and others don’t.

I also mentioned that Miley’s performance was sensual. It was.

More importantly, it reminds me that people will always bring their own filters to anything shared, voiced, or written.

Even if they are wrongly stretching words to mean things they don’t.

Take the word ‘sensual,’ for instance; it is NOT a congruent synonym for ‘sexual.’ It CAN be used similarly. But when someone deliberately uses ‘sensual’ in context, it doesn’t signal that the reader should infer whatever meaning they wish to, especially with the intent to change the intended spirit of what’s said or written.

In the spirit of honesty, this performance is very provocative. But it is her voice that is the focal point of the song for me. The internet is full of much more revealing content, if that’s what I’m after. Her song, “Midnight Sky,” among others, is certainly more focused on sexuality. I love that song, too.

We see a lot more skin at swimming pools and beaches. And tv shows, in catalogs, at Walmart, in commercials, sporting events, and just about everywhere else.

While I’m not one to brazenly advocate provocative behavior, it’s none of my business when an artist chooses to do so. I can click away. But don’t fault me for saying that a particular song is sensual. Or sexual, either, if I had been making that argument.

My sexual proclivities aren’t something that I expound on in public, but I could. We are all humans with similar desires and behavior. There is no shame in saying someone is sensual, sexual, or beautiful. It’s an acknowledgment of our senses. Being 54 doesn’t detract from my human response.

The whole point of my previous post was to say that the song resonates with me powerfully.

Love, X

The Dream Song

In another life, one I almost lived, I was a musician.

A few nights ago, I found myself inside a dream so real that it was impossible to move my head, even in the dream.

The song began, wrapped in gauze, growing in intensity, like a delayed crescendo.

Even when I awoke, the song intensified in my head.

I sat up on the side of the bed, repeating the reverb chorus of it over and over.

I’m not convinced I was dreaming.

The melodic voice on top of this track eludes me, although I can remember most of the lyrics, which in itself is unusual for me.

The protagonist in my dream danced and moved in accompaniment to the unsettling music, eyes locked in on mine. I wasn’t sure what was about to happen, but whether fortuitous or calamitous, I didn’t care. The movements were like an unending crescendo.

Though I haven’t used it much in several months, I opened several iterations of my music software and began compiling the components of the song from my dream. Although one’s dreams always convey a couple of levels that honestly aren’t experiential, the result is reasonably close.

And even now, as I listen with headphones, I feel like I might be sitting in two places simultaneously, so powerful was the feeling of being in two places at once while I dreamed. It’s a good thing I haven’t used drugs.

Sunday Excursion

As tough as life has been, there are still moments of sublime depth. This morning, I got my chance to walk without worrying about turning around and making it back home. I walked so far that Uber had to rescue me. The driver was tickled by my tip, as I gave him one he wasn’t expecting, all in new Thomas Jefferson dollar coins. As I walked, I saw so many interesting things: the sunrise, the geese squawking at me from their artificial strip of wetland on the perimeter of the airport, the whoosh of a plane so close I could feel my insides vibrate, the remnants of last night’s carnival (and a worker sitting in a place in which he thought himself unobserved, smoking a cigarette, his dangling legs swinging comically), hidden murals brightly calling for attention, new apartments and buildings shining against the dim sunlight, businesses I’ve never noticed, upstairs studio apartments that are no longer hidden to me, empty voids where buildings once stood, a weary overnight George’s worker walking home still wearing his rubber poultry boots (something I well remember from my own life when I was much younger), a Marshallese man inexpertly riding a bicycle and attempting to avoid falling on his face as he did so, a variety of people moving through the early hours, each intent on whatever private life they were leading. And – me, among them, as an observer. I didn’t take a lot of pictures because I already knew that whatever alchemy swirled in my head, it was something that wouldn’t translate secondhand. I wanted to walk twice as far as I did, despite my legs beginning to waver. There are some mornings in which time feels like a tide against my back. Even so, reality intruded to tell me that I couldn’t walk forever, though I wanted to.