Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Six-Word Memoir

I was tagged by a blogger I love, Kat, from Her blog is called "Keep The Coffee Coming," and I read it every day with never a trace of jitters. So I'll accept the tagulation, and here's the assignment:

Write your own six word memoir.

Rowan at Fortify Your Oasis challenged his readers to do this because he was challenged by Grannymar who was challenged by Alice.

Post it on your blog, including an illustration if you’d like.

Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to the original post if possible so that it can be tracked as it travels across the blogosphere.

Tag at least five more blogs with links.

Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

Here goes mine:

Now, here's what's funny. If you know me, you probably hear me use words such as garrulous, prolix or voluble to define myself in terms of speech habits. Many might say, "He sure can talk." Or the always-popular, "He was vaccinated with a phonograph needle." I've tried my hand at haiku, but there's a real art in minimalism that escapes me completely. So I don't think this is such a good six-word memoir, but it rings true to me. Out of necessity, it omits a lot of chapters from my life and references only the pre-Peggy chill that life gave me, and the joy that love has brought me continuously since the day fate joined our hearts.

I tried to go for the Burma-Shave school of poetry one time and couldn't even shorten my spiel enough to turn out great verses such as:
Please read the greatest memoir of all time when you get a chance. Genius neurotic anxious pianist Oscar Levant (hey! that's a six-word autobio for you!) wrote Memoirs Of An Amnesiac, which I re-read more or less annually, along with The Catcher In The Rye and On The Road.

The following beloved bloggers are tagged:


I'll email y'all.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I Love You Because

I am a man who appreciates what I have been given in this life, and that's a considerable amount of things. I realize that I am luckier than I deserve to be, and I want to stop taking so much for granted, so I am vowing to tell people of my appreciation. Just for instance: there is a group of people with space in my building who are doing such noble and good work for a group of deserving individuals, and with their skill sets and abilities, they could go for the big bucks elsewhere, but, thank God, they are here among us every day. I see the faces of the people they help. I've seen their faces in times of no hope and now I see what adding a little hope, a helping hand, and a little encouragement can do for people. I won't go into more detail except to say that these caregivers are not out there talking about themselves or telling others what they ought to be doing; they're just doing something noble and good and life-giving.

Not long ago I heard someone mention the period immediately following 9/11. Remember how people would allow others to merge in traffic, how they would say "excuse me" and "thanks" and "you go first" and other nice things? There was an upsurge in patriotism, but even more important to me was an upsurge in human kindness. It felt as if those of us who had survived that awful day were going to help everyone deal with the common grief. And of course, as a child of the era in which we all refused to believe in that incredible unanimal mankind described by cummings, I felt heartened enough to believe that the long-forecast days of peace and harmony were finally here.

I tend to relate to things in terms of things already experienced. I look back a good deal more than I look ahead, because I know more about history than about the future. Honest to Pete, when 9/11 was going on, the lines from T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland came to mind: "What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow, out of this stony rubbish? Son of man, you cannot say or guess..." I was wrong when I predicted that a whole new time of peace and love and harmony would grow out of that stony rubbish, because I foolishly forgot that the man down at 1600 Pa. Av. DC would leap at the opportunity to help his friends in the oil, electronics, bullet, uniform, tank, rifle and guided missile industries become filthy rich on the backs of the same people who were saying "excuse me" to each other in the supermarket.

Another poem came to mind today. Peggy and I were at Trader Joe's, buying some appetizers for Easter dinner, and I cleverly decided to shake a bottle of Asian dipping sauce to see the sesame seeds dance about in the rich brown goo-goodness. This would have been a better idea had I not been holding, in the same hand, a little cup of the free sample coffee that Trader Joe graciously provides. Mocha goodness poured out of the little cup and cascaded onto the front of the frozen food counter. Peggy immediately put down the package of spinach whatsises she was examining, and did which of the following?

a) laughed and laughed
b) called the store cleanup guy
c) pulled a Kleenex out of her purse, mopped my caffeinated hand dry, wiped up the counter, and asked me if I needed a refill on the coffee.

Anyone who has ever met Peggy, or even heard of her, knows at once the right answer is "C." She amazes me with her love, even though she has blessed me with it for almost 35 years. The song that came to mind was "I Love You Because," an old country standard sung by just about everyone back in the day:

I love you because you understand dear every single thing I try to do

You're always there to lend a helping hand dear

I love you most of all because you're you

No matter what the world may say about me

I know your love will always see me through

I love you for the way you never doubt me but most of all I love you cause you're you

I love you because my heart is lighter every time I'm walking by your side

I love you because the future's brighter

The door to happiness you've opened wide

No matter what may be the style or season I know your heart will always be true

I love you for a hundred thousand reasons but most of all I love you cause you're you

Friends, I still believe in love, and I believe that much love is out there for everyone. I was lucky and found it, or, more likely, the cosmos could not bear the thought of me rolling through life unhinged. If you have found the love of your life, cherish it, please. If you're still waiting for it to come to you, I bless the day it will arrive. And I know it will!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

"Hey Yogi, what time is it?" "You mean now?"

I am not the smartest man anyone will ever meet. A man's just got to know his limitations, right! And I know people ranging from someone who refused to eat corned beef because "they just keep these little cows in a pen, and all they let them eat is corn, and it's so mean!" to a guy who was driving north on I-83 and encountered a car heading south with a stuck horn blaring. Doing a bit of mental jotto from the Doppler Effect of the change of pitch of that horn, and factoring in his own speed, John was able to calculate the speed of the car heading south. That's brains, is what that is.

I know where corned beef comes from. I am simply mad about cows. But I can't even figure how fast I'm driving without a look at the speedometer - the device on my dashboard for holding coupons and sticky notes. However, I know another way to figure out how fast that car was going. Simply get off at the next exit, get back on 83 headed southbound, drive like a bastard and catch up with him, follow him home and then ask "Excuse me, but how fast were you driving on the interstate? I need to know this because....."

Done and done.

But in the interest of allowing everyone to gauge my relative IQ (right now, you're thinking it's somewhere between Stephen Hawking and the guy who told Mitt Romney "Don't change a thing - people like you the way you are!"), I have to be totally honest about one huge mental black hole.

Daylight Savings Time.

Oh yeah, I pretty much have that "spring forward, fall backward" thing memorized, But how does it come that every time we either spring or fall, I have to get a pencil and paper and calculate whether it will be darker or lighter in the morning, and then do the same figurin' thing for dinnertime? Then I get really confused, because I have come to associate nightfall with the time that the "King of Queens" rerun comes on channel 45. Now, nightfall will coincide with "Two and a Half Men."

I have a friend who works in Kansas City and I keep meaning to give her a call at work one of these weekend mornings, but there only are certain times she can get a call. I am so afraid that I can't figure out that when it's 8 AM in Baltimore, it's 7 AM in Kansas City. Or is it 9 there already?

When we drove to Pensacola in 2004 for Drew and Laura's wedding, I was momentarily distracted from blissful daydreams involving grits and waffles, the two foods that make traveling through the sunny South such a blissful daydream, when we passed a sign even more terrifying to me than the one that says "Now entering radiation zone." It was a rather small sign for the terror it handed to me: Now entering Central Time Zone. ! Well, I come through Alabama with a steering wheel on my knee, for I'm programming my Timex Ironman, the right time for to see, as Stephen Foster would have said, had he cared. The rented minivan careered* across the state line out of Georgia as I entered this whole new dimension in which Letterman comes on at 10:35, the late news is on during dinner, and Dios Mio, what would happen if you were driving across that state line at 2 AM tomorrow morning? What time would it be when you got to one of the 27 conveniently located Waffle House, Waffle King, Wafflemaster or El Waffle Loco restaurants in Opelika?

Time to join this group, that's what time it is! Fight for your syrup amendment rights! I'll talk to you tomorrow...sometime.

To "careen" means to tilt or tip over and to "career" means to speed wildly out of control.
(I had to look it up.)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

This is what it's like inside my melon

Time for a blog where I just open up the sluice gates and let the stream of consciousness flow over the banks and onto the page. There are certain things I think about all the time, such as why books and bookstores smell so nice and paper factories stink up entire towns. But, the water that flows makes the trees grow, and then carries the trees to a paper mill. Someone needs to write a book about why paper mills are so shtinky. They'll need a lot of paper to print it.

Here are a few thoughts: the first is totally spurious, and the others merely whimsical. I think I'll have a whimsicle right now!

...Ennui-rich British popster Phil Collins is largely responsible for ending a crime spree in the greater Brattleboro (VT) area. Bemused cops report that persons arrested on suspicion of having committed crimes were locked in a small interview room and forced to listen to an endless loop tape of Collins "classics."

" 'Against All Odds', " quipped Brattleboro PD spokesperson Gene Sis, "we improved our crime clearance rate by 36% by forcing miscreants to listen to 'Sussudio,' 'You Can't Hurry Love,' and the real heavy weapon that we only trotted out against the most recalcitrant suspects, the deadly 'In The Air Tonight.' "

...In many jurisdictions, the police sell off used squad cars
to two main buyers: cop wannabes, and taxi companies. Is it not possible that someone could be arrested, taken in by the police in a certain Ford sedan, be sentenced to jail, and emerge from jail some months later, only to hail a cab to get home. And is it not possible that the cab could be the same vehicle that took him off to the hoosegow? Driven by a cop wannabe?

...Since the beginning of time, there has been only a certain, albeit high, amount of water on the earth. They just aren't making hydrogen and oxygen molecules any more; it's too hard to get help.
Therefore, it follows that the next time you guzzle some water from the water cooler at work, or sip a mocha frappuccino, or take a shower after a long day on the job when the guy in the next cube was playing Phil Collins CD's for so long that you went down to the boss and confessed to ripping off wite-out just to get away from the din, you might be in contact with some of the same molecules that once bore Noah's Ark on its voyage. Then again, you may not. Who's to say?

...In 1978, the movie "Animal House"
came out (and I'm still laffin'!) The movie centered on college hi-jinx at the time of the Cuban Missile crisis of November, 1962. So the movie was about stuff that happened 16 years earlier. Well, it's 30 years since the movie came out. Would you care to see a movie about the funny stuff going on at Faber College in 1992? I can see it now...the students are all moping around, listening to Nirvana's Nevermind on tape cassettes, lining up to see The Silence of the Lambs and cheering the lifting of US trade sanctions with China. Let's face it: recent history is nowhere near as much fun as it used to be.

...I worked at a grocery store in high school and college, so my food choices when it came to lunch time (and it always did!) were fairly broad. I loved the A & P
and being surrounded by an endless vista of ginger ale, Fig Newtons and Vienna sausage. But what if you work at a restaurant, and more to the point, what if that restaurant is limited to one cuisine? Even if it's the best burger, ice cream sundae or falafel in town that you're frying/scooping/whatever the hell one does to serve falafel, you're going to be sick of eating it really soon. I'm sure there are thousands of former McEmployees who can't think of eating a Big Mac or former fish house cooks who can't look a catfish in the eye. I think the Labor Department ought to look into this.

...We've all been here: you're in the mall, or on the street, or running with the bulls at Pamplona. Out of the corner of your eye you see a dude that you kinda know, but you're in a hurry, or you just don't feel like hearing 30 minutes about the cutting edge of software technology, or where the stock market is heading, or why the Orioles don't have a chance to win anything this year or anytime before the next century begins. You sidle away, like a defensive back getting ready to make an interception, and when you see a path, off you go! into the clear and you get that exhilarated feeling because you know with every step You! Could! Go! All! The! Way.

I admit to the escape-and-evade several months ago, and as I darted away, my nonchalance giving way to what was certainly red-faced sweaty guilt until I must have looked like James Cagney in "White Heat," I got to thinking - how many times has someone seen ME and done the same thing? Now, that's what I call neurotic!

Good night! Top of the world!