Monday, December 15, 2014

Dark Alleys, Sunlit Fields

Dark Alleys, Sunlit Fields  (The 24 Hour Village)

How is it that when I finally get up the nerve to borrow a grocery cart, I grab one that has a boogety-boogety wheel?

I been pushing boogety-boogety for at least, well it’s gotta be two years.  Let’s see.  This is the second time I been sweating my balls off for weeks after havin’ froze them near off twice for weeks.  That’s gotta be two years, right?

I been tryin’ to remember where the village is.  I musta walked … well, I did walk all day.  Did my usual route.  Crust’s Donuts for breakfast.  I mean, behind Crusty’s for breakfast.  Then up Third.  Nobody bothers ya on Third.  Cops never go there ‘cause of the gangs.  Almost never.  Unless somebody get’s shot.  Most of the time they don’t get found, the shot ones, for a while, so mostly the cops are just there to make sure the body is taken away.  Don’t investigate much that I seen.

I ain’t got nothin’ to steal and most of the time it’s been a while since I been able to get inside a shower.  Know I mostly smell.  I don’t smell me, but I seen their faces and I’m pretty sure they do.  Smell me, I mean.  An’ I guarantee this coat got fleas.  Never take the coat off.  I learned that.  Never take the coat off.  Summer or winter.  Take the coat off and it gets taken.

Was a time when I got into a shower everyday.  Sometimes, ‘s I remember more than once.  Lots of showers and clothes.  More than one coat anyway.  I know I had more than one coat.  Just so damned fuzzy.  Hard to remember.  So damned hard to remember.  There was a person I remember and sometimes I seem to think it mighta’ been me.  Just not sure anymore.

Oh wait, there’s Jumpy.

“Hey Jump, where’s the village?”

“Stay back, there, McGraw!  I know ya got them fleas again!  Ya oughta get over to the Mission and get ‘em to let you use the wash machine.”

“I lost it.  The mission.  I lost it an’ I lost the Village too.  Gonna be night real soon.  Where’s the village?”

“Saw Mayor a bit ago.  Said to head to tween Plumfield ‘n Washington.  Ya gotta any cigarettes?”

“If I did I already et ‘em.  What street ‘r we on right now?

“Shit! McGraw you git lost ever’ damn day!  Take about a mile straight the way you’re facin’ ‘n go left ‘bout that much again.  Down the alley next to the pawn.”

That’s Jumpy fer ya.  Like he don’t have fleas.  Like the Mission is gonna let me use the wash machine.  I got quarters to put in the wash machine?  They don’t give ya quarters ‘less you spend near the whole day sweepin’, n’ moppin’, or some other fuck job.  Maybe I get a new coat, but the fleas just jump off my shirt into the coat.  Or I get a new shirt and they jump off the coat.  Er pants.  Unless they give me a whole new waredrobe (that the right word?)  What’s the reason?

Before I was old, I had a wash machine.  I think I had a wash machine.  Didn’t need no quarters.  And soap, I had soap to put on the shirts an’ stuff.  There was a woman there.  Beautiful face woman.  Who was that woman?  When I was not old, there was a woman and a wash machine and some little kids.  Maybe that wasn’t me.  And real clean bathroom with a shower.  I lost that, I think.  Jus’ like the village today.  How can a person loose a whole village?

I miss that beautiful face woman and those little kids and that wash machine.

But I got old an’ lost ‘em … somehow.  How did I do that?

This boogety-boogety is just plain onery (that the right word?).  Onery.  Ornery, ya dumb fuck.  What?  The word is “ornery”.  It means “implacable and somewhat mean”.  Huh?  What the fuck!  “You are such a filthy shithead.”  I know that.  I wasn’t always a filthy shithead.  “Yes you were.  You just wouldn’t admit it.  You were angry all the time.  You were abusive to people.”  Abusive?

I don’t get about most of what yer saying.  I don’t like you doin’ that.  Just jumpin’ in on me like that.  ‘S creepy ‘n scary.  If I didn’t straighten you out now and then, you’d walk straight into walls.  Then where would I be?  You’re the fucking idiot who got us into this.

Yer always blamin’ me.  Fuck you!  I don’ remember gettin’ into anythin’.  Town’s got to be somewheres along here.  You haven’t turned left yet, dumbasse.  Oh yeah.  Jumpy said turn left after a mile.  Has it been a mile yet?  More like a couple hundred yards, shithead.  Fuck you!  Fuck you!  That sidewalk is never going to answer you, you know that don’t you, shithead?  Just follow the roach trail and you’ll find it.  Bein’ nice is jes’ not something you like much, ain’t it?

I know how to make you go away, ya know.  Right.  Jes’ stare up at the sky.  Stare up at the sky.  Gotta blink though or you’ll go blind.  Jes’ stare ‘n stare.  Woah … that’s better.  Hey!  There’s a key!  A really good nice key.  That otta fit a lock somewhere.  Plobly gold behind that key.  Better take that key with me.  Maybe the lock be somewhere and the gold behind it.  Someone in town tonight will know where the lock is.

Put that on my key ring here.  Got lots o’ keys.  Lotta keys.  Maybe that key’ll open the door to where my wash machine used to be.  Lady B knows everything.  Lady B’ll know where that key will work.  I kin give ‘er half of the gold.  Don’t tell Mayor though.  Mayor’ll hit me ‘n take the key.  Er Junior.  Junior’ll take the key.  ‘Specially if I call him Junior.  Has to be called George.  Woo – George.  Georgie – porgie.  What kinda name is George, anyways.  Nobody in town uses names like George.  Call me McGraw ‘cause I don’t steal.  Won’t steal.  Mostly I jes’ don’t like stealin’.  Feels wrong somehow.  Feels bad to steal.  Don’t remember why.  ‘Fore I got old I used to know that an’ I can’t do it now.  It’s be nice sometimes to jus’ take stuff, but I can’t do it.  So they call me McGraw.  What that’s supposed to mean, I also don’t know.

Why call somebody McGraw, ‘cause they don’t steal?  Don’ get it.  Still if I could remember what else ‘fore I got old, they could call me that.  Like Georgie-porgey – ha-ha!  Used to be a lady in town who said to call her Susan.  But Junior said she looked like she was wearin’ a wig, so he started callin’ her Wig and for while she was in town, everybody jus’ call her Wig.  She’s not in town anymore.  Least for a long time now, she ain’t been in town.  Don’t know if she’s really wearin’ a wig.  Doesn’t pay to look too hard at people, mos’ o’ the time.

“Cept Junior.  He jus’ stares at people – all’l time.  Creepy.  He don’ hurt people though, mostly.  He’ll make a grab fer stuff.  So ya gotta be careful to not get too close to ‘im.  But he ain’t bad to walk along with ‘cause others can’ stand his starin’ ‘n they leave ya be.  B’then ya don’ get no spare change neither, ‘cause o’ the starin’.  Others sometimes gimme a dollar or somethin’ sometimes.  Not when I’m walkin’ along with Junior though.

“S been a mile yet?  Jus’ how far is a mile, anyway?  Don’t remember jus’ what, how far is a mile.  ‘S a long ways, I think.  A mile.  Really long ways, a mile.  Walk ‘n walk ‘n walk ‘n walk ‘n thas ‘bout a mile.  I think.  Mile is walkin’ fer a really long while.  Thes a mile.  Walkin’ ‘n walkin’.  ‘Till yer feet hurt.  Course my feet always hurt.  Ha-ha.  Walk till yer feet hurt.  Thes a mile.  Do my feet hurt yet?  Always hurt.

Pawn to rook four.  What?  Pawn to rook four.  Wha’ the fuck thet mean?  Chess, shithead.  Chess?  The game, chess, shithead.  Don’ like games.  That’s because you’re so fucking stupid you never win.  Stare up at tha sky.  Stare ‘n stare.  When’s a mile? When’s a mile?  I remember that dumpster.  I found a mattress in that once.  Good mattress.  But it was all wet.  Got rained on.  Too heavy to get outa the dumpster.  Had to leave it.  Too bad.

Maybe somethin’s in it today.  Hey … there’s chair.  Only bent a little.  Don’t like metal chairs though.  Too shiny.  Shiny hurts my eyes an’ it smells.  ‘Prefer wood chairs.  If it was a wood chair, I’d take it back to town.  Maybe trade it.  I could use some gloves for when it gets cold.  Mile yet?

I’m gonna turn here.  This’ gotta be a mile.  You wouldn’t know a mile if it fell on you.  Huh?  That’s not a mile yet.  Don’t care.  Seems like a mile to me.  Not a mile.  Don’t care.  Someone I knew used to march miles.  Marchin’ miles ‘n miles in boots that hurt, really hurt.  ‘Member those boots.  Always havin’ to shine every night, then march or run through mud the very next day.  Always shining ‘em, never had shiny boots on my feet.  Then she was dead and those little kids were gone and the bathroom.  No more showers.  Always dirty ‘n fleas.  Was a dog too.  No more dog.  Miss that dog.

God, my feet hurt and this stupid boogety-boogety.  One day that wheel is just going to fall off, then what are you going to do with all this shit? 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

You Do Not Have To Make Every Day Count

You Do Not Have To Make Every Day Count
So as a bipolar person I make the following statement, “You do not have to make every day count.”  Some days the most important thing, the most vital thing (vital as from the latin vitae, meaning life) is to just get through it.  Get through the day.  Also, I have spent my life as a professional artist.
Yeah, I’m one of those.  Still, hear me out.  I did not choose to be whacko, nor did I actually choose to be an artist.  Truly, true – I fell into it and had no plan B.  The art part is mostly a part of this blog because for an artist there is no time off.  If the brain is on, alive (dreaming is just another form of working), it is working.  By that I mean being all creative and imagination like and designing stuff.  This never stops.  Ever.
On a day like today – this is southern Virginia, way out into the woods, looking out onto a pond.  Turtle Pond in late November.  The leaves are all blown off the trees, it is raining a good solid rain … with wind.  The sky – slate … no clouds distinguishable, just a solid dead gray.  There   is   not   a   single   element   to   raise   the   spirits.  If you are a person that has to face a crisis of personal emotional inventory every morning, sometimes … some days … it is enough to just try very very hard to not think.
Because thinking for an artist is work.  ALL the time.  Now, there is a neural loop because of some kink in your physical organ called the brain.  It is that loop that is deadly.  Okay, deadly is too strong.  Lessee … uh, this is hard to get at.  Imagine (artists are very prone to visual analogies) a belt, like a car engine’s fan belt, continuous, running around and around without a buckle or any discernable end – or beginning.  That’s the belt – the loop of bipolarism.
So there is the artist brain that never stops working and then we add in certain things, that are called triggers, that kicks that belt, or loop, into gear and … well, we have a train on a circular track and there is a car stuck on those tracks.  What next?  What can happen next?  If the engineer can’t get the track switched – in time – to get that train off that loop (belt, track) then there is a collision.
And some days, all that that engineer (let’s say the engineer is the bipolar artist) can do is to focus on getting that track switch switched before the train hits the car.  This is the difficulty that people who are not stuck on a looping train track can understand.  First the engineer must accept that every day they are on that train and it is going to go around and around on that same track.  And every day they have to keep a sharp eye out for some idiot who is going to get his car stuck across those tracks.
It takes concentration.  That’s sort of like obvious.  So even when you tell other people who share your life paradigm, they still – they still park on your tracks.  Only an actual idiot does that.  Sometimes it’s their car.  And still they do it.  However, you are the engineer and if you hit the car, cause the collision, or derail the train, it’s your fault.  At least that is what everybody believes, or mostly generally believes.  An’ ya gotta live with it.
Now knowing all this ya still gotta live with it.  This is where we come to the bit about not always having to make every day count.  Count for what?  Count in what way?  Here’s another analogy: no, no – here’s a personal life story: … back to my 300 mile bicycle race blog.  Finishing a marathon race is not about making every step, or push of the pedals, count.  It’s about taking the next step, about pushing the pedals around one more time.  And then again and again and again, until you get to the end of the race.
When that race is over, you rest, think about it and get ready for the next race. 
So I find it has become part of what is called my recovery, to sometimes say “Hello” to the morning.  Each step (each day) is what it is.  Allow for that.  Some days I find I am fine with that much.  That is enough to make that day count.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Living Someone Else’s Life

Living Someone Else’s Life

Netflix.  Why do we, or I (me) anyway, get into these Netflix binges?  There have been TV series(es) I have avoided for years.  Something about them irritated me.  After several years I forgot why, but I remember watching one or two episodes and thinking, “Well, this sucks.”

Coulda been the actors or the plots or simply the script writing – the dialogue.  Something just seemed like it took long to get through an episode for what I got out of it.  No value for the time investment.

Recently, just because … well, because … I’ve been burning through seasons of those programs I avoided, and I arrived at a conclusion.  It’s the timing, the pacing of regular cable TV.  The commercials totally screw up the timing.  The writers get you up to a dramatic point, a place of tension, then blam! The networks hit you with diapers and scooters for the disabled and beer and make-up and other shit.  And these days those commercials go on and on and on.  You could take a nap before they get you back to your program.

So you subscribe to Netflix, or some similar service – you really do have a choice these days.  And you can take in each episode without the interruptions of diapers and beer and scooters and you can take in as many episodes at a stretch as you want, or tolerate.  The question is why?  Why do you, or me in this case, spend so much time – or waste it if you think you’re some hoity-toity intellectual – stuck on the couch watching these shows … as it were.

For me, honestly, I have begun to realize, I am escaping my own life by living someone else’s.  Episode after episode, with the script timing uninterrupted, truly puts me into the lives of the plot characters.  Why?  How does this happen?  The truth of this whole new phenomenon, and it is a fairly recent phenomenon, is that the plot characters are only actors.  They are not really police detectives, cops, FBI agents, Doctors.  They are actors!

None of it is real!  I find myself identifying with absolutely total fiction – in every way.  The story is not real, the people are not real, even the places they are supposed to be in are not real.  That’s why, in part, it never seems to snow in northern New England, the wind never blows in Chicago (the Windy City), it’s never cloudy in San Francisco, it never rains in Seattle.  No matter where the show is placed, it’s sunny and apparently warm. 

All the women can wear super tight low cut shirts (lots of cleavage) and never get cold (no nipples).  All the young muscular men can also wear tight t-shirts (but somehow they do have nipples - ???)  The comb-overs on all the old men do not flap around in any kind of wind.

It’s all fiction and yet we (I) get totally into it.  Binging on someone else’s life for hours.

Admittedly – yes I have begun to accept – that I have to get a life of my own.  Soon … hopefully.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Skinny Jeans and iPhones

Skinny Jeans and iPhones

So the idea seems to be to get jeans that are so tight, if you have a tattoo on your butt everyone will know.  Even the young men seem to be in on this one.  Which I find a bit odd in that I can’t quite understand how they can deal with the obvious discomfort.  However, what do I know about style?  Nothing. Truly nothing at all.

When I’m heading out the door for work and my wife says I look nice, I have to look in the mirror to see what I’m wearing, because I don’t actually remember choosing anything.  “Nice outfit”.  What is an outfit anyway?  I kinda look in the closet and try to remember what is clean.

I have a system.  When I wear a shirt the first day out of the laundry, I roll the sleeves up.  Then I put it in the closet after I wear it once.  I let it air launder for a couple days, alternating with other shirts.  After two wearings I chuck it in the laundry.  Shirts last a lot longer that way.  It’s a system.  I’ve used it for years with a fairly limited number of shirts, so my style is wa-a-ay behind the curve. 

A slightly different system for most of my pants, except I can tell if I’ve worn them before or not by the receipts in the pockets..  If the receipts are a wad of lint, then they are fresh out of the laundry.

I teach High School, so I don’t have to have like expensive suits and stuff.  I just have to not look like an old bum.  I don’t have to wear a tie, but I usually do because I kind of like ties.  It gives me an edge over the all the teen-age energy rampaging around me all day.  Differentiates me from the weird clothes most of the kids seem to prefer. 

Which is stylish – what the kids wear and wouldn’t be caught dead not wearing.  Teen-agers are in-style or they are ostracized socially.  I think the biggest contributors to Charity Thrift Stores are the parents of teen-agers.  What they wore last year is just not going to work for a new school year.  Of course then, if they go on to college, they start going back to the Charity Thrift Stores to buy back their old clothes.  Tuition is a killer. 

Back to the skinny jeans.  First of all males should simply not wear them.  They look stupid on the male physic.  Like pony tails on balding old men.  Or diamond stud earrings on any man.  Some fashion items get far too trans-genderized to have any meaning.  But here’s the thing, the whole notion by jeans being so tight – well for one thing it has kind of stopped that jail-house style of young guys wearing pants below their butts.  That’s a good thing.

What I’m getting at is now it seems the jeans allow a young person to display what kind of Smartphone they have.  It used to be a well-dressed person did not want to have anything that caused their pockets to bulge.  This anti-bulge thing is what created the invention of the woman’s purse and a man’s wallet, inside jacket, pocket.  To avoid any bulging.  Now that obvious back pocket outline tells everybody if you have an old iPhone, or a new one (the new ones are bigger).  Or one of those huge Android things, which identifies you as a rebel. 

It seems to have become a bling object.  A statement.  It’s the subtle things that count sometimes.

DC Peterson