Posts Tagged ‘Love’

Death in the Vehicular Family

Posted: January 25, 2011 in Writing
Tags: , , , , ,

“THUD! Thud thud thunk!” … with this noise, I knew it was all over: my baby of 18 years, the now legendary Nissan 2×4 “hardbody” truck the Murdochs rolled off of the Pacific Nissan lot in 1993 for $9600 cash, has bit the dust. I cannot express how sad I am that I have reached my breaking point: I will not put another $1000+ into this vehicle; it is barely worth $500. Love ya, and every one of your 177,546 miles, but it is time to put you out to pasture. Or perhaps donate you to KPBS.

Nissan Truck Front End

Nissan Truck Front End

Thinking back over the lifetime of this truck is pretty magical; there are almost too many stories to tell about where it has been, who has ridden in it, and what shenanigans have occurred in and around it. A good example is the damage to the front end; I constantly had to explain what happened and why I refused to get it fixed. When I was living in the Evil Dead 2 cabin in Roswell, GA back in the early oughts, the mailbox was at the foot of the driveway — a 300 yard long crumbling asphalt road — so I would always hop out and grab the mail before driving up to the crib. This one fateful day, I was counting $300 cash that I owed my ex-wife (#1) and forgot to set the parking brake. While getting the mail I heard a loud bang and looked up and down Roswell Road to see if someone had fender-bendered or backfired. There were no cars on the road. Strange, I thought; then I turned around and my truck was gone! After a moment of panic, I saw that it had rolled about 30 yards down the side of the driveway with the driver’s side door open and smacked into a young pine tree.

The Evil Dead 2 Cabin on the Acres

The Evil Dead 2 Cabin on the Acres

Without that pine tree, it would have gone another 50 yards into the creek. The engine was still running. I hopped inside and drove it up to the cabin, then wrenched the hood open and inspected the damage. I had assumed that I had cracked the radiator, but after slipping a piece of cardboard under the front overnight and noting no leakage, I realized that — once again — the luck of the Froggacuda held. The damage was cosmetic only, and after getting a number of estimates to fix it, I decided that it just wasn’t worth it. It is a proud battle scar, and it has helped avoid tickets for not having the front license plate on in California.

One time when I happened to be picking someone up from the San Diego airport, a Harbor Patrol cop motioned me over to the side. He commented on me not having a front license plate, and proceeded to write me a fix-it ticket with no expiration date that he said to present to anyone else who wanted to ticket me for that infraction. He had a friend or a family member perish in the events of 9-11-2001 and thought that it was pretty badass that the truck was sporting that alternative license plate. I am pretty certain that piece of paper is still in the glove box, along with the original window sticker listing the $13,600 price tag. I am certain I will find a treasure trove of garbage that only has meaning to me when I get around to cleaning it out this weekend.

Chart House - Lo Mejor

Chart House - Lo Mejor

This truck has been everywhere. I first got ahold of it when I was a junior at UCSB, and it made many trips to and from The Playgrounds, camping and inner tubing at Red Rock River over the San Marcos mountains, and reliably got me to and from my dishwashing job at the Chart House — which is now the Fish House. Back then I didn’t have the camper shell on it, and it was easy to throw a bunch of gear in the back and just take off for the mountains. It didn’t take a long time owning the truck for me to festoon it with stickers. The Ministry one got me an approving comment from a septuagenarian, who said “It’s so nice to see young people who are involved in the Church”. The other side of the bumper sports Fishbone and The Beastie Boys from the Check Your Head era. The back windows — now underappreciated because they are inside the camper shell — sport stickers of Calvin and Hobbes, several stickers given to me by my T.A. Amanda Ireton at West Hills High School (Fly Girls and a stylized girl kitty), and one from Blanket Party, Erik Rogers‘ band pre-Stereomud. Once I got the camper shell on the truck, I went out and bought a bunch more stickers to apply, and kept adding to the collection on the back window as late as last month, when I applied the Surface Furniture one, apparently sideways according to the owner, Jamie Huffman and, slightly earlier, the Who Is John Galt? slogan. The truck was broken in really well over the summer of 1994, when I would spend a week in San Diego working, and then drive back up to Santa Barbara to go out to Santa Cruz Island and work with LJ Moore and Adrian Wenner on removing feral European honeybee hives from the environment.

Rear Window Stickers

Rear Window Stickers

On moving back to San Diego, the truck was a landmark at the foot of Abbot Street in Ocean Beach. After moving up to Sutter Street in Mission Hills, the truck was notably involved in the incident of the gigantic rat in the engine block. My cat Hobbes decided to capture a sewer rat out of the canyon — seriously, this monster’s body was a foot long — and on letting it go, it scurried up the left front tire and into the engine compartment of the vehicle. My neighbor must have called the cops, because they skidded up to me in the middle of the street as I had the hood open, wielding a flashlight and a straightened coat hanger, wearing a black sock cap and a black turtleneck at 2AM, and trained their guns on me. San Diego’s Finest didn’t believe my story of the rat, even with three cats circling the truck and peering inside, until the beast decided to make a break for it, erupting out of the engine and running around in the middle of the street. Pandemonium ensued. The lady cop was shrieking and pointing her sidearm wildly around at the ground, and the guy cop — who was playing the tough guy — was immobilized in shock, and then in laughter. Needless to say, they let me collect my felines and go home with no further interrogation.

Mermaid Thursdays

Mermaid Thursdays

It was when we moved to Las Vegas, NV that I regretted not springing for the air conditioning. I remember it getting as hot at 117 degrees F once out there, and I used to prepare for the drive home from Nevada Power Company by stripping my shirt off and burning my fingers on the sun shade. The truck reliably got me to and from the Mermaid Cafe every Thursday night for my weekly four+ hours of DJing and drinking 22oz Sapporos. This was also the start of putting a lot of miles on the truck, as trips to and from San Diego would start to take their toll on the odometer.

On moving from Las Vegas to Atlanta, GA, the logistics company was good enough to put the truck on a flatbed for the trip, saving wear and tear on the vehicle. The Woodweaver and I got out there by driving the valuables — including four cats and a tarantula — in a U-Haul, making it to a snow-covered city in less than 48 hours, including an unscheduled stop in Jackson, MI. I had to flatbed the truck myself on the way back, driving the 17′ U-Haul plus the truck on the trailer all the way back to San Diego when I finally moved from the Acres back to my hometown of OB. I hadn’t seen my homeboy Tyrone since I had moved out to Vegas — something like 5 or 6 years — until I moved back in 2003, and he could not believe that I was still driving the same Nissan truck. Although the front end had been busted up, the rest of the vehicle was in pretty good condition; that is, until it was sideswiped no less than five separate times because it was parked on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard when I was living at The Porch on Santa Monica Ave.

In the last 12 months, I have poured about $1200 into the truck to keep it running, including fixing the brakes that were squealing like stuck pigs, and new tires all the way around after an exciting blowout going 70mph on the 15 south in the fast lane coming back from visiting S.A.T. in Murrieta.

Cthulhu by Erol Otis

Cthulhu by Erol Otis

Kelly Blue Book for fair condition (and that’s a stretch) is $675. But there is no denying that I love this truck dearly, and it has never let me down. I was on my way to Target to obtain moar wet fud for the creature that is my cat Brother when the thunk of something critical in the drive train went kaput. The truck was nice enough to let me flip a bitch and limp her twelve blocks home so that I could abandon her outside of the Edgemont Compound. This vehicle has been such an integral, personality-defining part of my life for so long, I feel a little lost having to do new and interesting things like apply for a car loan and figure out what ride could possibly replace her.

Everything about the Nissan is rich with details, stories, and legends:

  • the amplifier under the driver’s side seat was purchased for $100 including install from Circuit City in 1995 and is still working
  • the speaker box with the 8″ MTXs in it behind the bench seat was given to me as a birthday present by Bob Nickel around the same time
  • I traded the dual 12″ speaker box that used to be in the truck bed for the Cthulhu tattoo I have on my left shoulder back in college
  • Every single compilation I have ever produced has been extensively tested on the stereo in the Nissan rolling around the city I happened to be living in, including Festivus, which I just released in 2011
  • Even though it was only a 2×4, I treated it like it was a 4×4, and that lightweight truck made it through some stuff that stuck Jeep Grand Cherokees, especially sand in the desert
  • I lost count of the number of people that “learned to drive stick” in the truck; the clutch was rebuilt three or four times and the transmission once
  • You get used to $100 / month insurance and $50 / year registration costs
  • The Nissan has the “chrome package” which includes rims, bumpers, mirrors, and other details, although you couldn’t tell; the last time I had it detailed was in Las Vegas, and the company cleaned the air vents, which promptly fell apart because they were so brittle

    Tire Blowout

    Tire Blowout

  • When I was out in Atlanta, I ran the truck for three years without any maintenance, not even an oil change
  • Fact: the most environmentally-friendly thing you can possibly do with your vehicle is drive it until — as the SoCal gangstas say — the wheels fall off; you are not encouraging the production of another vehicle just for you, thus this was the most energy-efficient vehicle at GreenHouse
  • Fact: the Nissan did not qualify for the Cash-for-Clunkers trade-in because its MPG was too high
  • It was astonishing, the breadth of things that could be found in the depths of the truck, either in the buckets bungie-corded into the back of the bed or behind / underneath the seats; spanners, socket wrenches, frisbees, road flares, Taco Bell sauce packets, lighters, money, wire, jumper cables, folding wheel chocks, LED disco lights that ran off of the cigarette lighter adapter, flashlights, rigging knives, packs of cigarettes, mung rags, screwdrivers, and other assorted random magic items

Research has proven a relationship between your vehicle and your personality (here, here, and here, for example). I could have a field day with all of the descriptors that would match me and my Nissan: messy, sideswiped, dependable, function-before-form, tough, rugged, beaten up, olde, etc. This is why I refer to this as a “death in the family”; there is an emptiness when I walk outside and look at the carcass of the vehicle that I have loved for so long and that has been my faithful companion for so many years sitting next to the curb and not going anywhere but to a junkyard to be parted out for other 1993 Nissan trucks that are still running.

A long time ago, I received $5000 from my Grandma Gelin as an inheritance. I spent $1000 of it on an engagement ring, and the other $4000 of it on this truck. My dear Aunt Peggy gave me a matching $4000 towards a vehicle and my parents made up the remaining dough so that I could buy this truck outright from Pacific Nissan (<–warning: irritating audio intro) on Mission Bay Drive. The truck panned out a lot better than the ring did. Everyone that worked on this truck over the years, from Fred at Muryani Auto Care to Ron at Pacific Automotive noted that this particular year, make, and model were incredibly dependable, sometimes seeing 300K miles on the original engine. Buying this truck was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and she has served me so well, I just don’t know what could possibly replace her. There are yet more stories about confining cats in the back of the camper shell to move them from one place to another rather than stuffing them in little boxes, and that’s why I am reminded of Kanji, who hated transport more than any other child of mine, and who has helped inure me to the inevitable death of those that you love.

Double Rainbow and Nissan Truck

Double Rainbow and Nissan Truck

It may seem weird that I am eulogizing my truck, but those that have ridden shotgun bumping tunes, or driven it to pick up (pun intended) something or other that wouldn’t fit in your own vehicle, or were just happy that I made it from point A (my home) to point B (your house, or work, or elsewhere), then you know my truck. She is the best investment I have ever made, and will be only the second vehicle to join the storied ranks of those things that I have driven like I have stolen them, right next to the 1973 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Part of the drive (pun intended) to blog about this is that I have promised myself that I would blog at least once every week in 2011, and there is nothing better than reflecting on almost 20 years of history to inspire me to write. I seem to be pretty good at eulogies, and so I thought I would reminisce for a while about a faithful friend and companion of mine, that rarely complained, was a true workhorse, and who I relied on like family. Because, honestly, she always loved me more than I loved her.

I just finished burying my belovéd cat Kanji beneath one of the great eucalyptus trees in the garden at Edgemont Place. I had to do this once before with the Murdoch family cat, Frodo, in 1997, after I moved him in with my first wife and our four cats Kalvin, Anastasia, Hobbes, and Atari on Sutter Street. Frodo was over 16 years old, a canny outdoors cat with a penchant for rubbing so vigorously on the edge of roofs that he’d almost fall off. He had never been away from the fiefdom on Amiford, but the people who were leasing the house while my parents were in Canada were “allergic to cats” and didn’t want him around. It was only a couple of months later that he quit eating — even hand-shredded warm chicken — and I knew it was time for him to go.

 


Frodo

 

When I took Frodo to a highly impersonal 24 hour clinic to figure out what was wrong with him, the diagnosis was swift and sure: kidney failure. He wouldn’t miraculously heal and start eating and beating the shit out of the younger cats when they wouldn’t leave him alone like he was doing last week. It was clear that it was time, and when I looked into his eyes when I put him down, he was so much wiser and greater than I could ever be; he thanked me with a wink as he slipped over the edge and was no longer there in feline form.

I had no cat carrier at that time, so I took Frodo to the clinic in a paper ream box with a lid. As I took his body home in the same box, driving west on the I8, the clouds poured sunshine through a halo-like hole in the sky over the ocean, and I had to pull over to let the tears course down my face and to scream how unfair it is that I am left behind with all of this grief and a hole in my heart. I went home, got a shovel out of the shed, and drove to Monaco Street near the Amiford residence. I hiked up the drainage ditch I used to play in and around as a child, struck off into the depths of the old acacia bushes, and found a spot under a tree that I thought Frodo would like. And I buried his body there, in the wilderness behind the house where he would disappear for hours and sometimes days, hunting, napping, sunning, and doing whatever it is cats do when they go adventuring. Performing this ceremony made me whole over time: I knew I had done the right thing and done it with power and grace. It is not an easy thing to do.

 

Kan*Ji

the Japanese Kanji for Kanji

 

It doesn’t get any easier the second time around.

The week before this one, on Thursday, I woke up with Kanji curled up between my legs where I had fallen asleep on the couch. What puts this into perspective is that Kanji does not like to come inside the house. She’s always been like this; I am certain her previous owners didn’t allow her inside, and it was hilarious to watch her at Saratoga — where I inherited her — with an open door and a bowl of wet fud just inside enticing her to cross that threshold. When I moved and took her to Panorama, she stayed in my room for two weeks straight, terrified and freaking out that I had moved her from where she had always been. After she ventured outside, she found the spacious basement and spent her time sleeping in the rafters, only emerging to demand fresh kibble and occasionally sprint halfway up a tree when chased by the native cats Brother, Jedi, and Vader. She would continue to sleep at the foot of the bed every so often; a pleasant morning surprise keeping my feet warm and blinking her big blue eyes at me as I would be sleepily slapping the nightstand for the snooze button. At Edgemont, Kanji quickly took up residence under the house a

 

somebody is dreaming...

Kanji abed

 

gain when I let her outside and removed an anti-rodent mesh from the sub-basement. Over time, she found many hidey-holes, but spent most of her time curled up snoozing in the beat-up garage, sometimes on top of my carpeted DJ coffins or speakers. She did get used to coming in the house in order to feed and water, though, so I got used to her occasionally showing up inside, although she much preferred to enter via the window rather than crossing a doorjamb. So it was unusual to have Kanji curled up next to me, rubbing blood and pus all over my comforter from her ruined nose and ear because she just couldn’t quit being a kitten and, well, she wanted to communicate with me that she needed me.

I spent the last week with Kanji as an indoor cat. She had gotten skinny — skin and bones, really, so I plied her with wet fud and booted Brother out of the house so she could eat in peace. Lots of time was devoted to scratching her in all the right places, and gently, so when she would encourage me to rip the scabs off of her nose and ear to drain the grisly shit that was going on underneath, my fingers could dance around it. She peed on everything and I didn’t give a fuck; that Thursday she came in the house, I promised her that I would take care of this once and for all, and so we hung out hard-core: nerding it up while I solved Halo: Reach on Legendary mode with her next to me for good luck; watching Netflix Kung Fu movies until 4 in the morning on school nights; hand-feeding her American cheese slices and black forest ham on her Mexican blanket on the couch and hearing her little “om nom nom” noises; waking up in the middle of the night as she decided that she wanted to sleep closer to me, so she would carefully crawl on to my chest or between my calves and pretend like she had always been there. Kanji was fiercely independent, but she knew better than I what time it was.

 

Handsome Girl Modelling School pose #113

Kanji on the back of my couch

 

I took Kanji to Heather at Cabrillo Vet four or five months ago to find out what was wrong with the persistent scabs on her ear and nose. Heather and her whole staff, by the way, are the greatest lovers of animals on the planet. Referring to me as “Dad”, Heather told me several months ago that this was fast-moving, untreatable skin cancer, and as tears welled up in my eyes, she informed me that Kanji had 1-6 months to live. Today I took Kanji back to Cabrillo and Heather to put her down. Over the last week, I would come home from work at GreenHouse, drop my heavy backpack of tech, and go looking for her. I was worried that Kanji would try some disappearing bullshit on me. At first, I would find her laid out on the couch somewhere, but as this last week went by, I would have minor panic attacks and search the yard fruitlessly, thinking that Kanji either couldn’t get back in the window or that she was trying some dumb “I’m just going to disappear” ploy. She was always inside the house, but these last three days, she was so embarrassed with her incontinence and appearance, she found a secret spot in my back closet where she would hide until I coaxed her out of it and encouraged her back to the couch. Usually, this involved playing Lady Gaga tunes and putting fresh food in her bowl; she loves teh Gaga while she delicately ate while trying not to bang her scabby nose into the kibble.

So the second vet visit ever was to put her out of this misery. I am comforted that I spent good time with Kanji and have lots of pictures and even a little bit of video (where she got excited and tore the crap out of the back of my hand). Heather and Cabrillo are very efficient; I signed some paperwork and there was no wait. We went right back to the exam room, and they gave me a scant two minutes to let Kanji out of the carrier and let her freak out and run around a little. As I put her back on the table for the procedure, I got one good look in her big baby blue eyes, and saw them change from fear to resignation to trust. I trust you. I. Trust. You. And that is how Kanji went forth into the great beyond.

 

This is where I buried Kanji

This is where I buried Kanji

 

I’m an Eagle Scout; I pride myself on being prepared and being good in the “clutch” situation. As I drove home with Kanji’s still form in the cat carrier, I couldn’t help but look at her as if she was just sleeping. When I got home, I didn’t like her body in the carrier, so I carefully pulled her out and laid her on her circular cat-tower-throne that she liked when she was sunning and sleeping. She looked like she always did, sans an infrequent mini-bath and look around while squinting and licking her chops before resuming her nap. I found my shovel under the stairs and dug a deep hole next to two of the massive eucalyptus trees here at Edgemont place. Curling her up in that hole, and arranging her limbs to cover her eyes and give her the semblance of a nap reminded me of doing the same thing with Frodo. And that’s when I knew that it doesn’t get any easier the second time around.

As I updated Kanji’s Catbook profile to provide how long she had been loved, I realized that I have known her since 2008. It is 2010; that is two years. But when you love unconditionally — something I have a problem doing with humans, but rarely with animals — that is a lifetime. I have received many beautiful expressions of sorrow and understanding from my friends and family, and I appreciate them all; however, none of them goes as far as a simple meow from Brother: “Are you OK? I love you. BTW where’s Kanji? Can I have her fud?”

Kanji is physically gone, like so many other cherished pets and loved ones, but that does not relinquish the responsibility of playing it forward: lives are spent setting examples, and I remind myself constantly that this is why they were here in the first place: to move and inspire me now. Even after I have laid one of mine to rest in the cool earth. Kanji is not even a girl; Heather took one look at her and laughed, stating “that’s a boy-kitten, Dad.” Having known this for over four months, I still could not quit referring to her as a girl; Kanji didn’t care about the context — only the tone of voice and the love contained within and that there was Fancy Feest involved if he/she acted cute enough. This is unconditional love, and I can haz it with cats; human beings, though, I am not so sure about. Kanji was like that: suspicious of “hoomins” — this is, perhaps, one lesson that is worth remembering; and, that once alleviated, love is all I have to give to you.

I can’t count the number of times I have exhorted myself to sit down and write on this damn blog. I sit in front of wonderful technology, with multiple screens, and everything that I need literally at my fingertips, and I can’t do it. As I age, I feel myself becoming more careful, more conservative. I think I have figured out part of it: now that I have a platform that is beyond scribbling in a spiral notebook, or sketching on the beach in an art pad; drawing on big sheets of paper while bored in class or even pecking away at a keyboard into AppleWorks, I am aware that I have an audience. And that’s frightening. I don’t want to let you all down.

And that, my friends, is the problem. This is MY blog, and — as Eminem has deftly reminded all of us — I’m not afraid. This is pretty simple to do: just write.

“Write, and be prolific / Not everything written is monolithic” ~Thee Froggacuda, 1988

That is the best two-line poem ever for Michael. And I wrote it. I have ignored this advice from the past me to the future me, and it is powerfully captured as a nine word reminder. I think everyone can benefit from this. It’s a simple distillation of my “press record” rant. Nike has made an entire multi-year campaign out of “just do it” that everyone loves because everyone needs to hear that repeatedly over their lifetimes.

I have a lot yet to be said. I am Thee Froggacuda. Release Teh Tadpoles!

Ho!

once again it's on

So here’s what I did, relatively present tense: I got a little inebriated, put on the new Chicane album “Giants”(reference: Middle Distance Runner), and reskinned my blog to give it a whole new appearance, even to me. After some WordPress admin tweaking to get the elements in the right places, I hit the button labeled “New Post”. And I sat in front of the screen daring myself to write something — anything — and publish it. Tonight.

I am angry with myself that I let the Kanji-Part-1 blog lay fallow in the Drafts folder for as long as I did. I was waiting for the Muse to strike me with inspiration and that’s not how she visits you or I: thou must seeketh out the opportunities, and if you have a fully functioning blog, just write for no reason, any reason, because you are writing for yourself.

That is the point of a personal blog — [insert legal-compliant disclaimer from professional life] — it’s to be able to write; not about whatever you want, but also not because you have an audience. I’m a Libra; there’s a balance to be struck. This gift of a new album from Nick Bracegirdle even has a beautiful song on it called “Where Do I Begin?” Synchronicity is serendipity. I am learning that restraint is not always care; however, baring my soul is not always as simple as it used to be. That’s why there are archives, and I will never regret being unemployed and casting around for a project important enough to deserve all of that free time, and entering all of those poems and stories and rants you’ll see on the left-hand side month-by-month, year-by-year. There’s some good stuff in there; I am committing to digging some of it back out and throwing it in my face again. Here, on the Virtual Lilypad; you can come along and read if you like, but it’s not for you. It’s for me. Because I can’t help but think that I am actually smart enough to code messages into my content for my future self. Maybe it’s a function of being on the bleeding edge of human evolution because I have ADHD and society and civilization have not caught up to how many threads my brain is processing at any given time.

literally -- burning love

literally: burning love. // Jamie Huffman

I am a single human being trying to make a difference with my life. Everyone struggles with this same thing. I write who I am because at an early age I was inspired by Jared D’nofrio to tear out the back of an old math notebook and try to write poetry. Shit, we were studying Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, Pope, in school, and if he could do it; why not me? Well, Jared’s stuff was great, and I never thought I could equal that elegance…but I gave it a shot anyways. It was like drawing block letter names of girls I had crushes on and spending a whole science or math period at Correia Junior High School coloring them in uniquely with fluorescent hi-lighters. Y’know what? I just found that I was good at it.

DJing is a lot easier than writing. You get to express yourself with the beauty of other people’s interactions with their Muses. The problem is this: if you are good at something, don’t you owe it to yourself — and everyone else — to share it? That is why I have a drive to capture things in cages of ink and tape and 010010 and MP3. I think this is fundamentally the human condition; interaction is like breathing to me. I have just forgotten that I can target myself, and that I am my own primary audience.

I cannot depend on messages that I have coded myself in the past unless I make the effort to read them again; to listen to them again, to experience them again. And I certainly cannot pass any of my current wisdom on to myself in the future unless I produce content right now. This is the heroic circle of one’s life, Scar.

The Archangel Michael wields a sword. I’m not so good at the martial arts. I promised my ninja-to blade to my youngest godchild, anyways; Belén is going to be a better Samurai than her Unkle or her Father. But this Froggacuda character has a wicked tongue and sharp teeth, and I’ve been representing as Thee Froggacuda for almost 20 years now. Recognizing that you have a sticker that reads PROTAGONIST over the mirror that you never look at, finally you understand: this is the Muse trying to shake you free. The Muse is me. The problem is that I never look in that mirror: my mirror until now been everyone else except me. All of that is changing.

I am Thee Froggacuda. Ribbit; fuck you.

Here’s the backstory: currently on Facebook, it is all the rage to use your Notes application (read: blog) to write up 25 random facts about yourself, then “tag” 25 other people to make them have to do the same thing. Personally, I think that this was started by the Facebook people themselves as a way to introduce people / drive traffic to the Facebook blog functionality, and since my WP imports via RSS to FB, I figure I’d do it here so that people can get their fix and stop tagging me.

Original rules (as in, I didn’t write this schlock):

“Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)”

25 Random Things:

  1. I am a better human beat box than Justin Timberlake
  2. If you ask me what one word describes me best, I will always reply with “lucky”
  3. I still suffer from ADHD just like I did when I was a child, but I am better at masking it; I do wish, however, that my metabolism had kept up with the rest of the handicap
  4. I have always been in love with being in love, with music, with friendship, with my family, and with you
  5. I have been known to embellish a story or two, but usually it is due to my tendency to describe my friends and acquaintances as movie-worthy comic book heroes, which is born from a deep respect for their individuality
  6. I often wonder what would have happened if Monster Zero had accepted the gig to open up for No Doubt on their first West Coast Tour in the summer / fall of 1990
  7. I would be happy if I could just listen to music, select cool tracks, and play them at loud volume to interesting people all of the time
  8. For some reason, in some election I was not made aware of, I am the de facto communications hub for a bazillion people; you look up Murdoch if you want to randomly communicate with someone who you lost track of years ago, and somehow I have some sort of last known contact info
  9. Possibly the greatest thing I have ever done is the eulogy I gave Chris Feher after he died doing what he loved: rock climbing Half Dome in Yosemite by himself
  10. I hate children, especially babies, but apparently, they love Unkle Mike, and this fact never fails to humble me
  11. Speaking of luck, I was lucky enough to be adopted at birth by the best parents in the world — Diane and Gordon — and what I can piece together about my biological parents is pretty crazy: Mom was from Massachusetts, married, and had three other children, aged 8, 9. and 11 when I was born; her husband was NOT my father; she was short, Swedish, and had blond curly hair; my dad was an Italian steelworker, son of an immigrant shoemaker who woke up one day to find a note from his wife that she was leaving him and half of the closet was gone; Mom’s husband had a nervous breakdown and was committed; this explains a lot of what is running around in my genetic pool — don’t blame the Murdochs
  12. I am the best party liaison this side of Van Wilder
  13. I have three home-produced album to my name under various alter-egos (see Pus & Zero Boy) and one professionally released 12″ single called “Everybody” that I did with Grant Goad and Andres Mijangos
  14. I am still very proud of all the work I did to become an Eagle Scout
  15. I wrote poetry every day for almost 15 years; most of it is available — tagged and searchable even — on my WordPress blog; my current favorites are “Cellardweller“, “I, Ape“, and, of course, “Froggacuda
  16. I often wish that everyone else could hear the soundtrack and audio effects track that accompanies my life
  17. I am a pack rat, especially for things that provoke nostalgia; for example, I still have many of my childhood toys — Legos, Transformers, Micronauts, etc. — and a box full of the stuff I had pinned / nailed to the walls of my room when I was in high school, such as Fishbone ticket stubs, a referral from Coach T (R.I.P.), and extra pictures of hot chicks I had crushes on from Yearbook class
  18. I have always owned a “strange” pet as well as my beloved cats ever since Linda Nickel bought me my first Emperor scorpion; currently I have Tuonetar Mac Mordenkainen, who is the third Mexican Red-Knee tarantula in a long line of wonderful arachnids I have loved
  19. I don’t code Web 2.0 anywhere near as well as I did Web 1.0
  20. I love jackets; first and foremost is my ska-patched black jacket, which used to be a bomber, but out of all the clothing you can wear, nothing beats the right jacket for the right occasion or situation
  21. I have been a true (4 elements, y’all!) fan of hip hop ever since seeing the Sugar Hill Gang perform “Rapper’s Delight” live on Solid Gold 1979; this seminal moment changed my life forever
  22. There is nothing better in life than having a good conversation filled with enthusiasm, a meeting of the minds, and laughter
  23. Being rejected in junior high school by the popular white folks as a glasses-wearing, uncool, too-smart nerd has served me well; I have good friends and strong cultural ties to non-white communities who have accepted me for who I am from then until the present day; this is one of my greatest sources of pride and what makes me wince when I have to choose “caucasian” on “optional” survey information
  24. I love language, especially since the world is made of it (see the collected works of Terence McKenna), and I have a fierce propensity towards sesquipedalianism just because long, multisyllabic words sound cool and are sometimes the key to doing what Salt & Pepa, Madonna, and Dr Dre during his NWA tenure said best: expressing one’s self
  25. There is nothing I value more in life than my friends; they are the Desiderata of my happiness, the real value in social networking, and many times, the only reason that I keep on keeping on, because I can’t do it all for myself

There we are: 25 random things about me. Feedback — as always — is very welcome. Have at!

I.
There was a woman
Who I loved with all my heart.
It’s the only way
I know how
to love.
The problem I have
With falling in love
Is that I just keep falling
And falling on through.
It’s a perpetual autumn;
Storming leaves of memories,
Possibilities,
Skeletal trees.
And turning my collar up
Against the cold of this world.
Holding my hands out
To the warmth of the fire
That we had kindled
To keep the darkness at bay.
Every time these things end
I look up from the glow
Of the smolder, the embers,
For the ignition of a smile,
That familiar, beloved synching
Eyes to eyes:
It’s just understood
We’ll revel in the work
To pile on more fuel
From our common woodpile.
But nobody is there
Across the coals from me;
I’ve fallen through
The bottleneck of the hourglass
Along with all these ashes.

II.
Songs get tied
Like complicated knots
Around my feelings;
They remind me of how
I used to think about forever.
Some are bright blossoms
Stolen from yards
On the way to your window
In the middle of the night
To kneel and present you
With a moonlit bouquet,
My Juliet.
Another is the crosshatching
Of spray painted poetry
Hanging in midair
Amongst the tree branches
Between the shadows
Of the stars that were ours;
Witchcraft and wizardry
For an unrelenting passion.
Tapestries of smoke
And of tie-dyed freedom;
Soft paws of haloed kittens,
The chocolate and the champagne
Of the once in a lifetime.
Threads on a magick loom
Synchronicity unparalleled,
Spiderwebs like a hammock,
An embrace as if I was coming home;
Touch burning like the fire of a faerie,
Or the resurrection of the phoenix,
Tracing sigils in the sky,
Re-ignition of belief
Like a firestarter
Or finding a soulmate.
I am haunted
By the breadth of my music
And the depth of my commitment.
The failure
of my eyesight.

III.
The carnage is absolute;
A battlefield strewn with my corpses,
Beer cans and shrieks and cigarette butts,
The best of intentions and
The stench of taking things for granted.
These raw wounds
I have sustained over my lifetime
Of loving how I should have been loved
Never seem to heal;
They just ooze and pulse
Making heartbeats painful;
A crazy accumulation of luggage
Like owning an airport carousel
Of baggage you can’t strip off.
It just grows with you,
Older and less attractive,
Smelling faintly of urine and gangrene
When you can’t bear
To perform the required surgery.
It hurts too much;
I’ll excise memories I want to keep
Along with the decaying flesh.
Retrospective or post-mortem;
It’s still the death of a relationship
That I thought would live forever
As if I had infinite chances,
Infinite quarters.

IV.
I was pinned to a mortarboard
Like a butterfly from a caterpillar,
When I had to eulogize my friend;
My brother, my partner-in-crime,
Someone who understood
By the merit of not being female
The depth of love and an enduring relationship.
I don’t ever want to do that again.
It is the same with love;
I know I can, and it will be better,
But the pain of losing someone to provoke that work
Is too much to accept;
Besides, who the fuck will do that for me?
The answer is as clear as hindsight:
20-20.
I listened to my voice echo hollow through a church
That he wouldn’t have appreciated
To the people who were left behind,
And became even more haunted.
I did my best to represent,
Tell tales, romanticize, believe
And I went home with ashes in my mouth
To cry, cry out, want to evaporate,
Disappear, erase myself from existing
Because I had lost something precious:
A true friend.
It’s a lot like losing your love
Because you have lost a friend.

V.
The light switch is off.
This is the eye of the storm for me.
Now I deal with the still shatter of leaves,
The cold of being alone,
And shoving my hands into the campfire.
There is no warmth.
This destroys the fabric of memories
That took deep commitment
And sweat equity;
Deeper resources than I had without you.
And I see them all retreat,
As if they never existed;
Vanish into the thin, thin air
That I breathe.
Flatlined.

VI.
To move along,
Because there is nothing to see here;
It’s a pretty penance,
My cross to bear;
One that gets weightier
The more years I carry forward,
This boulder I am pushing uphill.
It’s that lost luggage from the carousel;
It’s those old wounds from the battlefield;
It’s those lyrics of happier times
When I would write, compose, sing
Of how I loved being in love
And how I expected forever
But you only had right now to give.

VII.
Perspective is a function of wisdom,
Which is a byproduct of experience,
That is what happens when you live and die
Through these things.
Perhaps they build character;
Actually, they create defense mechanisms
To try to prevent this from happening again
And again.
Expectations collapse
And you lay bricks and mortar in the fortress
That you think will keep you safe
But not sound;
You all are quite persuasive.
Certainly isolated
In the aftermath
Of bequeathing your everything —
Heart, mind, soul —
To your everything
Around that campfire
And you look up and discover
That she is long gone.

Clarity and Closure

Posted: December 2, 2008 in Rant, Writing
Tags: , ,

“I don’t think this is working out…I don’t see any future with us.”

This is how this heartbreak goes down: on the phone, during a conversation about something totally unrelated. I heard her go outside, heard her light a smoke, had been hearing all of this for the last six months, but somehow — being a child of the 80s and listening to all of that Depeche Mode and Cure — I didn’t hear this one coming. Damn me for being me: having faith, thinking that love can overcome all, thinking that God has a sick sense of humor and boys don’t cry, believing that patience is appreciated when the vines are withering and it is some sort of Constantine Industrial Light and Magic thing that is going on outside my vision.

I am not known for having good eyesight.

By the time I had gotten back to my laptop to check in on Facebook, her relationship status had changed to “single” and I was left in a “complicated” relationship with no one. Good Lord, is this how we communicate in the 21st century? Hey, we should get together and figure out this divorce stuff, since that is obviously what needs to happen. She is out of town this weekend; she’ll call me next week when she has some free time. Brutal, but probably honest — that factor is always in question now — and I guess I’ll do some more waiting. What’s another week or three on the end of this wreck, anyways? Could we at least get this done by the end of this piss-poor, fucked up year?

I had to wake up my friend Kleptus just to cement the information received on this phone call to the time and date, so I can move forward with clarity and closure. He was wonderful enough to look me in the eye and let me know that limbo is not a place that you can effect change or move forward. I am stunned by this revelation that she is gone, yes, but moreover, I am relieved that this game is over and that I can move on to whatever the future holds for me without having to continue to pretend that there is a chance of her coming back. All that remains is the legal paperwork, the separation of bank accounts and credit debt, and all that other shit that I have done before, and here’s a fuck you and have a nice day.

It’s divorce #2; I have practice.

So it is what it is, horrible delivery and all. Obviously premeditated, just like several events leading up to this: a trip to San Francisco, a talk on the front porch the last night we inhabited Saratoga Street, the lack of communication since we separated. It doesn’t matter now, because it is what it is: annihilation of our relationship, repudiation of the time we spent together, and a new beginning for each of us. There’s a little cleanup to perform for both of us, but then we’ll be moving right along with our separate lives. With clarity and with closure.

Neverlove

Posted: May 1, 2003 in Poetry
Tags: , , , , ,

If my eyes are full of stars
Forgive me, love.
This swell of sinew in my heart
Squeezes magic through my veins
With each breath I take
Thinking of you, warm and laughing.
My once resolve to neverlove
Is so many ashes in the seabreeze,
For eager puppy I
Can only long for another look
Another touch that burns alive.