Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Salvation in the Airwaves

Preface: God, I hate weather people. Sure, they're prettier and perkier than real people and they all make assloads of money, but they have no real discernible skills save for reading and smiling. Sam Champion? Is that your real name, you ass-pounding douche? Stop being so fucking happy all the time. Weather, like life, is occasionally dark and miserable, OK? It's balanced. Good/bad. Yin/yang. Happy/sad. Get it? The circle of life does not have a smiley face inside it, you sparkly-toothed piece of shit. Now go wash those ridiculous highlights out of your hair and make me a sammich.


Phew. I feel better.
A friend recently checked in to tell me how much she likes my writing (thank you), but she wishes I'd write more (yeah, me too, but I think I've already sufficiently established that a) winter = death and b) my free time is now spent threatening/raising -- no, just threatening -- 2 kids). She was kind enough to forward a link to some blogger guidelines that essentially said, you must write every day. if you already write 2 hours a day, write 4. if you think you're any good, you suck. It went on and on, each commandment illuminating my failure. I was seriously getting even more down on myself than usual.
But then as magic would have it, yesterday I popped Steely Dan's Aja CD in for the ride home. Track 3, Deacon Blues:

I'll learn to work the saxophone
I'll play just what I feel

Drink scotch whiskey all night long

And die behind the wheel

They got a name for the winners in the world

I want a name when I lose

They call Alabama the Crimson Tide

Call me Deacon Blues

I remember the first time I heard that song in high school. It hit me like a shock wave. So dense, so lush, so pure. Like drowning in wonderful honey. I wrote those lyrics down in notebooks, on chalkboards, in the margins, on imaginary paper in my mind's eye. Over and over. Etched them deep in my soul. Handprints in wet cement. Maybe it was to experience their perfection as often as possible, but mostly I think it was just to imagine what it must have felt like to write something so amazing.
Write something amazing.
That's the long and short of it, isn't it? That's the goal? Because if it is, I'm not sure how routine and discipline would help. I don't care if you write every day or twice a day or think you're great but really suck. It has to mean something or it's just a waste of time.
No, I'll wait for the muse. An infinite number of monkeys with typewriters have a better chance of reproducing a catalog of Nelson songs than they do a single Deacon Blues. And don't get me started on Leonard Cohen. Kids, you're gonna need a shitload more monkeys.


From the "Still Others Have Content Thrust Upon Them" File:
Got a lovely letter from the University of Virginia Health System the other day. Nothing urgent, just a note asking me to confirm my health insurance. Well, I think they were asking me. The letter was addressed to Yomomma Kiggins. I'm totally not making that up. Yomomma Kiggins. Joke's on you, UVA. I don't even play the cello!
Anyway, whoever arranged for that bit of levity, thank you. Sincerely. I wasn't in a very good mood until then. You totally salvaged an otherwise lost day. I owe you (even more than I did already).


I'm gonna do something here that's guaranteed to make you hate me. If you already hate me, you'll hate me more. If you already hate me more, maybe you'll put a bullet in my head and end my suffering. But I have no choice here. This thing has found its way into our lives and it refuses to leave. The only thing I can think to do, aside from call an Exorcist and do you have any idea how much they cost? Me either, but I'm pretty sure I can't afford one, is that maybe it's like a fruitcake and the only way to get rid of it is to give it to somebody else.
That being said, please watch this video.
I understand if you want to break up with me now. It's not you, it's me. Hell, I don't even write every day so it's not like you're breaking up with a real blogger or anything.


Oh, by the way, we're less than 2 weeks away from Virginia 2.0. Got the scrip for the new CT scan, which hopefully will be scheduled for this coming Monday. And which hopefully will reveal that there is no infection to be dealt with (seriously, it's been more than a month and Ethan's had more antibiotics since Virginia 1.0 than I have in the past 10 years. I'm pretty confident that we could dip him in Love Canal circa '76 and he'd emerge unscathed. By the way, is it just me or does Love Canal sound hella dirty? Like I don't know whether to declare it a Superfund site or give it a right good spanking.)
Anyhoo, we're loaded for bear. I updated the GPS software (and will bring several printed mapquest routes, thankyouverymuchMAGELLANYOUFUCKINGIDIOTS!) so that we avoid any more unpleasantness. We've accepted the inevitability that we'll have to buy more shit from the gift shop. And that we'll have to sit in the pre-surgical consult waiting room for a few hours -- hours that could be put to better use in the hotel pool. We've made arrangements to stay at the same Marriott. We may even eat at the same restaurants (Qdoba = om nom nom!). This is so much different than the first attempt. Nerves have given way to somberness.
Odd thing: Ethan hasn't had a haircut since well before Virginia 1.0 and his hair was already pretty long back then. By now he looks like Steve Prefontaine, but without the Village People mustache. I think he's a little sensitive about his ear. I'm wondering if he'll let us cut it before our California trip.
Plus, I think I left the iron on. Back in a few.

"Well the danger from the rocks has surely passed. Still I remain tied to the mast. Could it be that I have found my home at last? Home at last." -- Steely Dan

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fine Day For a Reunion

See, winter? This is why I hate you. The darkness, the cold, the snow, the suckfest that is the holidays, the ear surgeries, the massive heating bills, the shitty television programming (hey, HBO. What the FUCK!?) -- It's obvious that you take great pleasure in pissing me off. It's bad enough I have to wear socks during you, but now, turning a deaf ear to the camel's creaking back, you've decided to throw one more straw on the pile: My official invitation to the John F. Kennedy High School Class of 1980 30-Year Reunion. That's right, 30 years. As in, if I really concentrate I bet I can actually feel my prostate getting bigger. As in, "I'm sorry, I can't hear you very well. I forgot to shave my ear canals this morning." As in, I'm going to the grocery store in my bathrobe, slippers and black socks.
30. Years. We're as doomed as doomed can be, I must say.
In easier days I might be aglow with thoughts of good times past. I mean high school wasn't all angsty hell, was it? Maybe if the invitation had come during one of the other three seasons I might have even felt warmly optimistic, thankful for all the good things life has brought my way. Long, strange trip and all that. But in winter, when the foul stench of death is all around, nostalgia -- especially that of the youth lost variety -- just sucks balls.
So I get the e-mail telling me to check out the Web site, which I do. And there on the home page, in front of god and everybody, is a tab labeled "Photo Gallery." I can't resist the urge to peek in. Mistake. Immediately I'm swept back to a time that I didn't really care to revisit. A time that, if one could represent it graphically, I imagine would look like a blow-dried wave of feathered hair. Concert t-shirts and jeans. Converse All-Stars. Letter jackets and gaudy-by-any-standard class rings. So much hornyness, so little time.
And the drugs, Martha. Oh, the drugs. Ours was either the luckiest or unluckiest generation in history, depending on your point of view. Ironically, I'm in the "unluckiest" camp since I feel like I missed so much life for my stonedness. In case you missed those halcyon days, let me paint a little picture for you (those who lived through it, back a brother up here): Even without the benefit of the internet, you could find drugs within 3 minutes. If it took more than 2 phone calls it was considered a drought. You never had to walk farther than 2 or 3 blocks to get what you needed. Weed was everywhere, as were hash, Thai stick, cocaine, crank, acid, mescaline, mushrooms, quaaludes, etc. And by god, I did them all. In fact, if getting stoned were an Olympic event, I'd probably have been on the Wheaties box. Here, now, sober as I am (and I am), I'm an underachiever. With 2 or 3 or 27 joints in me? Fuck, it was a wonder I remembered to breathe.
Still, I played music and sports and held a job and did the usual shit high school kids do (except have sex -- another reason I count those days as unlucky). And I imagine I've grown up to be a semi-normal person. But I wasn't "in" back then (jury's still out about now, too) (shut up). I knew people who were, and their photos -- then and now -- stared back at me on this reunion site, making me feel ... Small. Awkward. Retroactively geeky. If you have siblings you'll know what I'm talking about. You understand what it's like to grow up with a shared rhythm, then find your own groove later in a life when, at best, family played a drastically reduced role. Away from them, you grow confident. You kill a few psychic demons. You mature. You can handle yourself in any situation. And then BAM! you're thrust back together by circumstance and are instantaneously reduced to that same old goofy kid once again. You become a magic eye poster for your soul. You know the real you is in there somewhere, but fuck if you can find it though all this damn scribble.
So the question now becomes to go or not to go. My then-girlfriend went to a different high school, so that eliminates some potential awkwardness. I wasn't exactly the catch you see before you now (I said shut up!), so the odds of having to endure drunken confessions of unrequited lust are fairly low. Most of the comments in the forums on the site are sufficiently lucid and uncreepy as to lead me to believe that most of these folks are either fairly normal or good at pretending. Their "now" photos make them appear non-threatening. At the very least I believe myself to be in good enough shape that I could outrun or overpower them if shit goes down. All these plus ... er, ... non-negative column line items against my insanely juvenile reticence to re-live that unsteady, awkward feeling -- all for the ante of a $70 ticket. How lofty my wager.
I've been mulling it over for a while now, listening to this song for inspiration. I'm leaning toward going just so I have another layer of reference with which to help Thomas and Ethan through their adolescence. It's either that or the three of us just get stoneder than a bejeesus.
What would you do? Why?

Fred Bailey: "So, you wanna dance?"
Girl: "In another life!"
Fred Bailey: "Yeah, I didn't either. I was just taking a poll."
-- From Valley Girl