Archive | May 2013

Shifting Spaces Redux

I am always in flux, never satisfied with  many things around me. Some of those things are trivial, like how rooms in my house are arranged (gotta move stuff downstairs again. I need a different perspective), how many shoes are in my closet (I need some green or yellow Vans), or the total number of compact discs on the shelf (some  have more, most have less).

Those less important things are easily remedied and flipping a room, buying shoes or adding discs provides some respite.

Other things, I can never satiate.

No matter what I write (no matter how good it seems or how bad), I always need more. Every sentence demands a different, better one. I can spend the whole morning writing, thinking, writing more, and by the end of the day, I feel a compulsion to do it all again. And nothing is more intimately frustrating and pleasurable than sitting at the computer, waiting for the words to make sense. On days they do, I trick myself into thinking I have made a breakthrough, that the thoughts are going to flow out of me unceasingly. Yeah, sure thing.

When I first started this blog, I wanted a catch all place, one location where I could dump whatever I wrote. I used Blogger before WP, I had one for ramblings, another for creative things. I liked the division, didn’t like how I never knew what was being looked at.  I crave conversation-which is part of why I write and post these things, but I am finally getting that most readers don’t comment, which is totally fine. Still, I don’t like thinking I am just posting stuff and no one is reading it. Which is why I switched to WordPress.

WordPress offered stats…I like stats. I get to see what people read (not who) and from that, I can blog about things that interest my friends and myself. While I still crave comments and conversation (here on the blog, on Facebook, Twitter, or in private email if public conversation bothers you), having numbers to look at and crunch is almost as good.

After looking at the trends, It is obvious to me that the creative stuff isn’t as interesting or widely read as the other stuff. I’m surprisingly alright with that.  There is no way I am not going to continue sharing my creative side, but my need to change, to do different things has lead me to seek other outlets.

I am moving the majority of my poetry (flash fiction and stories don’t have an exclusive home yet) to a Tumblr page. I don’t get the stats (I also don’t have to see low numbers of views. Ego, Ryan), but I do get a little more flexibility. The WordPress blog feels like a place I need to be more focused and careful, while Tumblr gets to be flippant and random.

And because I need a place where I can be cheeky, I have another Tumblr for odd ends and tidbits. Sometimes, Facebook is limiting-Too many young ones, family and such that really don’t care about what offensively vulgar song I am listening to or what random sentence I feel needs its own little space.

So there you go…I shift, I change, I ebb and flow. Come along for the ride if you would like. Bookmark, share (pretty please), respond, ignore. I welcome your voices and your presence.

Everything always filtered by something.Versification and misconception.  Enjoy!

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Once Upon a Time

Believe it.

There was a time when U2 was not a band too bloated for their own faces with egos the size of the moon.

I know I forget it all the time. Then I take a walk, put on the earbuds and listen to the War record.  Wow. 30 years later-Wow and wow. It transports me to 1983 and I get to be 12 years old for a terribly awful (but somehow missed) moment. I am in my upstairs bedroom, playing the records over and over, sharing them with my girlfriend (who totally got it, she was and still is pretty awesome), friends and anyone who would listen.

Listening to that record, I am reminded why I fell for this band in the first place. I had little political knowledge (especially about Ireland) at that time, so the message was often lost, but I did love the sound. It was completely unique (to my young, inexperienced ears), and though I didn’t always understand the songs, I felt the passion in them.

It was an easy choice, buy whatever records they put out.  First I had two earlier records to purchase, then there were singles and live releases. I never had much money in the 80’s so any spending was a big deal. I always found funds for any release from Big Country and U2

Their sound gradually changed, but I hardly noticed. By the time Joshua Tree was released, they were fully bombastic and overblown, but I didn’t see it. To me, they were U2 and it was about damn time everyone else jumped on board.

I paid to watch Rattle and Hum 5 times. When the video came out, I wore out the tape. They weren’t my favorite band, but they were important and I knew that.

As they purposefully blew apart what they had become, releasing insane album after insane album, I lost interest. Achtung Baby was the end for me. I couldn’t see what they were doing, didn’t get it at all (still don’t like those records) and I vowed never to buy either Zooropa or Pop (haven’t). Their return to ‘rock’ music was welcome but things were different. I have not had the experience of anticipating a new release and being blown away by it for close to 25 years. No band should be stagnant, but I really miss the raw energy of the early releases. They aren’t the same band, and none of us are the same people, but something crucial has been lost. I actually hope they have called it a career.

But there will always be the 80’s and the records that impacted my musical development. As always, here is a list of clever songs I still like. I hope they also remind you what a fantastic and spectacular band U2 once was.

October-Haunting. If I ever learn to play the piano, I want to play this song, simple as it may be.

Gloria-2, 3, 4…

I Will Follow-I was looking at myself, I was blind, I could not see.

Like A Song-And we love to wear a badge, a uniform. And we love to fly a flag, but I wont…

40-‘Sing this song with me, this is 40.” Still one of my favorite live records.

The Unforgettable Fire-This one always reminds of a certain summer evening hanging out with a close friend in her backyard.

Bad-This version off the Wide Awake in America ep is the best version. Best I say.

Exit-My favorite track off The Joshua Tree.

 

 

 

Maybe I’m in the Matrix

I am trying to imagine anything more fruitless than searching the Internet trying to discover reasons for my completely random and vague health symptoms.

I continue to struggle with the same generic issues-Lack of energy, low stamina when it comes to exercise, muscle loss, and the all time favorite, brain fog.  Every possible diagnosis I come across has these two symptoms in conjunction with several others, none of which I experience.

My doctor visit and subsequent blood testing revealed nothing but a slight vitamin D deficiency.  I don’t get consistent headaches or have abdominal pain. I’m not suffering from excessive weight loss or gain. I don’t have joint pain  or depression. This rules out most of the ailments I have read about.

For a brief moment, I thought I may have adrenal fatigue, but I cant reconcile the stressor element, which is the primary cause of the disorder. I don’t believe I am menopausal either, though I could be wrong.

I have been trying various vitamin combinations, changing my diet to eating more vegetables, more local food, less sugar and processed foods. I am taking supplements, trying to maintain low intensity exercise (though I still do some good climbing on the bike), sleeping more, paying attention to my routines, and while there have been weeks of improvement, without exception, I find myself back where I started-tired, foggy, weaker.

This leads me to one logical conclusion. I am trapped in the Matrix. The only solution. I need to be set free, though a large part of me thinks I would hate that clarity more than this constant confusion. Also, my residual self image needs work. I don’t like the pot belly or wrinkly skin.

On the other hand, there might be a worm wrapped around my brain stem, affecting my medulla oblongata. I could be part of some clandestine government experiment, where they attempt to use these worms to control and manipulate the human population, making us more pliable and easy to conquer. They will certainly be coming for my guns (if I had any).

Another option. I am still five years old and (like I used to wonder) am trapped in a perpetual dream. It moves forward and I get older, learn, grow, but the reality is I am in my bed, sleeping comfortably. All of this life has been one awesome dream, one 9 hour sleep and soon I will wake up. I will be living in a two bedroom apartment with my almost one year old sister, my parents and my cat. I will wake up hungry for Frosted Flakes. My mother will kiss my head and as the knowledge slips from my child mind (like all dram wisdom does), I will let it fade away, grateful I am not old, bald, married, all of it. I wonder if I will be the least bit sad at all the wonders I am letting slide.

What was I talking about?

9 Lines (and an afterthought)

They love you for trying, ignoring the absolute futility
of loving someone who has moved beyond a need
for trivial things. Someone like you, clenched up

tight, bloody knuckled and self satisfied, unrelenting
and unforgiving as much as she is unforgivable.
A soundtrack in your head of favorite melodies,

songs tossed carelessly about as if they were powerless,
took nothing with them when they went, when they were
born, when they dug themselves under our skin.

 

I have a made up memory in my head of a late April day, walking into my paternal grandparent’s backyard. though a fictional side gate and surveying my cousins (who all take different faces, like wearing full masks) as they sit, play, fight, exist. 

I see a cherry tree, set dead center along the back fence that each of us climbed and fell out of more than once. I see us eating early summer fruit off the top branches, throwing and spitting the pits at each other, laughing, eating ourselves sick on so many cherries. 

I see in each of our ten faces moments of innocence, a time when we were mostly all friends, mostly all liked each other. A glimpse of a collective past, before our individual life choices took us places that made our two families so completely different that all we had left was a loving indifference ( tickled with malice), towards each other. 

But there are somehow still images of late spring/early summer in that backyard, when all of us are together and happy and unaware of what lies in wait for each of us. Even if my thoughts of it are mostly fiction. It is easy to want a second of clarity for that pre-teen boy, just long enough that he might understand, take a chance at an intervention,  maybe make things turn out a bit differently. But he never gets that chance, just a clever smile as he runs happy and oblivious down the slope from the house towards the tree and swing set. 

Disarmed

When she stood up, grass clung to her backside. He gently wiped it away in his mind, but in the world, he stood silent. They walked together, cover of shade trees keeping them from cooking in the summer sun. He imagined the smell of her sweat, the feel of her sticky skin. It made him uncomfortable and embarrassed. He shouldn’t think this way, not about her, not about someone who was always and ever with someone else.

She had time for him, always. A walk in the woods or riding through back roads on a Saturday afternoon. She even (always) had a hug for him on greeting, and on leaving, where he would linger as long as she allowed.

“I love how the sun shines through these trees. Like walking in a fantasy novel.”  Which was funny, because she never read any of the books he suggested, especially fantasy. She would grin and say, “thanks, but I am reading” blah blah, and he would put the novel back in his pack. “I feel like we’re on an adventure, one that will end in a hero’s welcome for you, perhaps a knighthood. For me, a marriage with the man I have traveled far and wide to be with.” And of course, that man was not the one she had slain dragons with, fought through forests of demon spawn or battled against men who wanted to take her honor, her flesh, her soul.

It was nothing like a Fantasy novel. It was everything like every other day, when they wandered the world together, made plans, ate bagels and drank coffee. In an hour she would need to be taken home. He would oblige, purposefully forgetting to tell her about the dirt stain he now noticed just beside the grass still clinging fortunate on her bottom.

 

Something About the Sound

When I was a young boy, I loved  baseball. Anywhere, anytime, if there were six of us friends together, we could find a way to have a game. In the neighborhood, we played with old dented bats and tennis balls (so not to break a window or house) but if there were enough of us to make it worth while, we would wander to the field a the east end of the street and use the real thing.

I played little league from the time I was 7 until turning 12 and though I was never a great hitter, I loved everything about playing-The dirt in your shoes, on your face, in your mouth. The friendships, the feeling of stretching a single into a double, scoring a winning run, losing a close game, or making the catch that seals victory for your team. I even loved the cold weather games, when the rain or wind made things miserable. As soon as winter ended, when practice began, I looked forward to that first swing, when the pain would run from your fingers into your wrists. Ah, memories.

Somewhere along the way, time and my life took my passion for baseball. Soon, I lost track of favorite teams, players, everything. I would play softball with friends or co-workers and remember that I loved the game, but it was never enough to make me work to watch it or play it.

Today, my brother invited me to attend a day game for the local triple A club. I gladly agreed (suite tickets make that part easy) and as we settled in, I felt a rush of memory and affection for the game. I thought of these guys, playing a game they love for almost no money, and no real hope of making it big anytime soon. I watched them warm up, throwing the ball around the diamond and I envied them a bit. Following your passion is rarely an easy option for most of us and few are ever able to get paid for that passion.

pitcherWhen the first player made good contact with the ball, the sound of the impact struck deep in me. I LOVE the sound of the ball on a wooden bat. It is hard to describe the impact, but there is a deepness to the sound, a violence, a transfer of energy that resonates through the stadium.

Baseball is a game of sounds and smells for me. I vividly recall burying my face in a new glove, inhaling the oils and leather, chewing on a tie strap. The smell of the grass, the sound of chatter from teammates, the whooshing of the ball as it flies towards you after being hit. The impact in your glove.

The first time I sat near a bullpen, hearing the ball as it left the pitchers hand, rifling, curving, sliding towards the catcher at high speed, I remembered the fear I always experienced coming to bat. Standing in the box, waiting for the pitch, is one of the most nerve wracking things a human can experience. Even as a young boy, I would start to sweat, feeling my pulse quicken as the boy across from me threw a fastball towards the plate. I admire those who can stand in front of a ball coming at them in excess of 90 mph and not flinch, let alone see the ball, read the pitch, make solid contact.

I have that feeling in my blood again. Baseball is back for me, at least for now. And after all, now is all I really have anyway.

Ending in Water and more Water

Saturday was the Cycle Salt Lake Century bike ride. This year makes my third riding this course and the first year the race started someplace else than the fairgrounds.

This has been an interesting year  or so for me and cycling. I have moved from being in the best physical shape of my life to trying to figure out why I continually have a sickening feeling in my chest whenever I think about biking. Regardless, I paid my money, tried to prepare myself for the ride and though I felt lacking in long distance saddle time, I found myself at my brothers house, 7 in the morning, my mind ready for 108 miles and 6 hours on the bike.

We rode from his house towards the Gallivan center. The weather looked grim from the beginning, with low clouds and wet roads, but the forecast called for a break in the storm between 10 and noon.  The clouds kept things cool and though it was obvious we were going to get wet, some rain is no excuse not to ride.

I was tired to start, but as we went through the city, my blood and body warmed. Soon, Dylan and I were talking and laughing the way we usually do. It always amazes me the way some riders tackle long rides like a century. This particular ride is not difficult, just long, but some riders were huffing and wheezing as they went by us. There are always those in better shape who effortlessly do 24 MPH or so, but  the hard breathers aren’t those riders. One poor girl would sprint ahead, then we would catch up and pass her, mouth open and struggling. A few minutes later, she would cruise by us again.

At one point, three riders blew by us, one pulling off the road just after. The rider directly in front of me decided he needed to stop and join his buddy, but  figured I had magically vanished after he passed by. As I swerved to the left, avoiding the accident, I cursed under my breath. Not an apology or a wave, nothing. Several times, teams of riders passed by, refusing to allow us space to avoid holes or puddles, basically pinning us in, forcing us to slow or stop.  A few times, groups would split the tiny gap between us without a warning or acknowledgement we were even on the road. I don’t understand the inconsiderate nature of some of these riders. It is a trend I see in more places than supported rides, but when there are thousands of riders, it is more frequent and more blatant.

About ten miles in, the rain really began to fall. My glasses were a hindrance, so I took them off. Water ran off my helmet and into my eyes. It wasn’t overly cold and while riding in heavy rain is frustrating, it is doable. We both agreed to pass the first checkpoint without stopping, hoping to get ahead of the largest group of riders.  It was a solid plan and seemed to work as the near accidents, blow by’s and amount of people around us was definitely less than before.

The rain continued to fall.

My body felt good and at mile 20 I knew I could once again complete this ride. That was a pleasant revelation. We rode through Farmington  and started to find our rhythm, cruising at about 20 MPH towards the second stop and lunch.

I brought a second pair of gloves, thinking that  it would be nice to have something dry to put on. We stopped for a quick snack and I changed gloves, the first set being soaked through. It was here that I first noticed how wet my feet were getting. I had brought extra socks and thought of changing them, but the amount of water inside my shoes made any sock change pointless.

As we rode the back roads towards Syracuse, the weather worsened. Both Dylan and I determined that we were going to ride to the lunch stop, try and dry out a bit, then head back to Salt Lake. We were wet and miserable. The thought of riding out to the lake was unpleasant and with the lunch stop being 40 in, we would still get 80, which was more than enough.

Dylan was starting to have trouble riding, making very wide turns as his muscles were freezing up. Simple 3 or 4% grades were slowing us down considerably and the rain starting coming down in sheets. At one point, I looked down at my feet (trying to get a break from the pounding water that kept running into my eyes). Water came out of the tops of my shoes in streams. My clothing was completely soaked and my fingers were starting to numb as the temperature seemed to drop.

I have ridden in colder weather, more rain one other time (down Emigration Canyon), but this was a completely different animal. There was nowhere to stop and get out of it, just ten more miles of riding to the check point. Dylan came along side of me. “No way in hell are we riding back through this.” Which was true. Both of us were shutting down mentally but more importantly, physically. The weather was beating us.

Head down and legs pushing, we rode straight into the wind and water for another five miles. I honestly don’t remember anything else but water and the numbing sensation in my feet. Just as I thought I could not ride any farther, we were there. Everyone looked beat and cold.

My legs were jelly and my feet completely numb. I peeled off one shoe and sock, massaging my toes. Around me, cyclists stood shivering, some pretending they were not in as bad of shape as they appeared. Ride officials came by, telling us that the Syracuse Fire Dept. was warming their bay and encouraging all of us to go inside. I pulled my shoes onto my bare feet and wandered over.

RideInside it was ten degrees warmer, but all around, people looked miserable, shaking, cold, hypothermia setting in. I slipped out of my shoes again and stood with Dylan behind one of the fire trucks.

It was comical how wet everything was. Once we knew we were done riding (we called a friend to come get us), and once we felt safe, the insanity of the last 40 miles made us laugh. Everything we had with us was very wet and there was nothing to change into. My pack was soaked as were the extra things I had brought. I couldn’t get my hands dry and water ran from my over-wet shorts down my leggings and onto my bare feet.  All you could do was laugh at the absurdity of it all.

My favorite moment-When the announcement came discouraging anyone thinking of going on, I said aloud that that wasn’t a worry, I was done. One gentleman looked at me as if I was the most pathetic rider in history. I looked back at him and mouthed. “I don’t (expletive ending in ing) care what you think.” he looked away.

I had nothing to prove to anyone in that room. I knew if the weather were better, I would have finished the ride. Continuing on in those conditions was not tough or brave, it was stupidity. If the fine gentleman next to me wanted to pretend otherwise, good for him. I hope he didn’t injure himself or get ill from the ride.

ride1Keith came and picked us up about an hour later.

In the back of the car, still soaked to the bone, I watched the freeway miles pass by. Water, water everywhere. I can laugh about it now, laugh about how foolish the whole endeavor was. I am dry and totally recovered, but part of me wonders if I will ever participate in an organized ride like that ever again.  I love the course, but I can ride that regardless of a place to stop and get some food or drink.

I am put off by the participants as much as the weather I rode through. There is a culture I am obviously not a part of and I am not sure I even want to be. If what makes someone a ‘cyclist’ is riding through conditions like that, when it was obviously unsafe (several others were talking down on those of us who were ‘pussing out’), then I guess I am not a cyclist.   I still enjoy riding and will certainly continue to do so, but the attitude and carelessness of other riders, the lack of consideration towards others, the overall unfounded arrogance, leaves a bad taste in my mouth.