Monday, October 20, 2014


At one point or another in our lives, each of us must choose something to find solace in.  Where we find that solace changes depending on the person.  Sometimes it’s an activity, sometimes it’s a hobby—all too often it’s a bottle.  My grandfather finds solace in his woodworking.  My mother in her needlepoint.  I really don’t know what my father does, but I’m sure he has something.  Myself, it’s this—the writing. 

Mind, if you could see me right now, all I’d need to finish the stereotypical-writer look would be the smoldering cigarette.  I sit in a nearly dark room, lit mostly by the computer screen.  A streetlight shines through an open window along with a faintly chill wind.  Melancholy music plays through computer speakers.  A tumbler of rum, uncut, sits to my left within easy access.  Rain pours outside, and I am lost in the thoughts that run through my head, the drumbeats echoing more on my soul than on the roof just above my head.

Bob Seger wrote one of the greatest songs ever about the life of a touring musician, “Turn the Page.”  In it, he writes about “the echoes of the amplifiers ringing in your head.”  The same goes for writers and their prose.  You can’t ever seem to let that go.  Words bounce around your skull like some sort of mouse amped up on both sugar and speed.  Those words are your saving grace when you’re seeking that solace.

Sometimes, without them, I don’t know what I’d do to stay sane.  It’s saved my marriage, kept me from staying inside that bottle when I crawl in to avoid the outside world, taught me ways to live that are not easily described, and allowed me to communicate with my fellow human beings when the spoken word has failed.  It’s no wonder that written communication has survived hurricanes, floods, tragedies of all kinds.  That no matter how much we try to ban the written word, to control its influence, it always backfires. 

I put this to you.  The written word has the ability to transcend you, me, and everyone.  To mold us into something greater than the parts of the whole.  Each word we write has the opportunity to become more.  We recognize that as a species.  For those of Faith, we find God in the written word.  For those not, we find something else, something just as spiritual. 

So what’s this have to do with solace?  Think about it and you’ll get it.  It’s a way of centering ourselves.  There are times when I wonder about the wisdom of this drink at my elbow, but I never once question the wisdom of why I write.  Does everything get published?  No.  But they are always the right words to soothe a troubled soul. 

It beats a bottle.  I’ve crawled into one of those before.  And crawled back out.  Not on a regular basis, but sad to say, I’ve experienced it.  Tonight’s one of those nights when I want to shut out the world around me.  Work.  Family.  Friends.  Television.  Everything. Just gone.  That’s why I love that I’m a lazy guy.  The glass holds a finger’s worth and the bottle’s downstairs.  And I won’t go downstairs again until tomorrow morning. 

But tonight I’m troubled.  I’ll admit it.  I’m questioning decisions and reactions, unsure if I’ve chosen the right path in my life.  Should I be more than I am?  Less?  Life gives you only so many bridges. Have I crossed all the right ones?  My thoughts are my own, these concerns overwhelming my thought processes for over a week now.  And I have no answers.  At least none that satisfy. 

So instead of trying for answers, I’m looking at a new path.  Just acceptance, for tonight at least.  To find solace in those things that I love with those people I love.  That’s why I’m here, in a dark room before a computer screen when I have books to read, video games to play, movies to watch, with a drink in my hand.  Peace. 

But now that drink’s gone, finished.  And with it, my time here.  K’s home and the rain’s stopped.  That wind has turned downright cold, and the window needs to be shut.  The cigarette never was.  “Turn the Page” has transitioned into “Her Strut. The light turns on, diminishing the computer’s brightness, and a kiss is welcomed.  Not too long, but long enough.

Fade out.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The List

I’m not one to talk about sex or sexuality.  There are too many people with opinions, all too willing to tell other people with their own opinions that they bang in the wrong way.  Seems a bit too pot-kettle-black to me.  So, like assholes, I keep mine to myself. 

Figure out the metaphor there.

But last month was one for the books for me.  All Bucket List-like.  I want to talk about it, so forgive me if I jump right in without more of a preamble.

I’m assuming that, like the aforementioned Bucket List, Your Five is a well-known concept.  Everyone I know has a list.  Except for my parents.  And if they do have a list, I don’t want to know anything about it.  But for those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, perhaps you know it by some other name.  The idea is this:

You have a list of five people.  These are the top five people that, given the nigh impossible opportunity, you’d have a relationship with—most of the time of a physical nature.  There are no penalties, no drawbacks.  Your spouse can’t complain.  He’s/She’s on your list. 

Now you know what I’m talking about.

It’s an escape from your day-to-day doldrums.  Throughout your life, those five names might change; they may not.  Others are close to the top five, but can never quite make it on the list.  It’s a fantasy that we all can relate to, though I can’t seem to appreciate my wife’s obsession with Hugh Jackman. 

Maybe it’s because I look more like this.

I, just like every other person—wait, I’ve covered that—have my own list.  And over the past few weeks, I’ve actually seen two of those fine women.
The first was just over two weeks ago.  On September 13th, my wife and I attended a burlesque show at the House of Blues in Chicago featuring the wonderful Dita von Teese.  On the list?  Yes.  Oh God, yes!  There was this one dance with an oversized martini glass and . . .  

Anyway, it was a wonderful show.  We stood right next to the stage—at times actively leaning on it—and watched everything in its beauty.  That was the glorious thing about the show—beyond seeing Ms. Teese.  It was a celebration of sexuality, free of judgment.  The whole thing was classy, beautiful, raunchy, and something I’d do again in an instant.  I came home deaf and hoarse.  That’s my most resounding endorsement. 

I want you to notice that I carefully chose one with her clothes on.

While Dita von Teese was important to me, she wasn’t the best, sad to say.  I met number one.  Numero Uno.  The lady at the top.   Last weekend, K and I traveled down to Cincinnati to visit my sister and attend the Cincinnati Comic Expo.  It was a fun little convention, but my draw happened to be one Jewel Staite.  She’s been on several well-known science fiction shows, including Stargate Atlantis and Firefly.  I started watching her at the tender age of “younger-than-I-can-remember-my-actual-age” on a show called Space Cases that aired on Nickelodeon in 1996.  If you’re so inclined, you can watch at least some of the hilariously bad episodes on YouTube.  Jewel Staite was the one with the rainbow hair.  In all honesty, I’ve been following her career long enough that both my sister and my wife refer to her as my girlfriend. 

I’ve accepted this.

It was a big moment for me.  I was all nerves.  She was kind and beautiful.  Afterward was a different story.  I fanboyed out with much hand flapping and hyperventilating.  That caused more than a few laughs, but it was worth it.  And a picture. She took a picture with me.  It’s the wallpaper on my phone.  Tee-hee.


What’s this have to do with anything?  Probably a whole lot of nothing.  I know that these events may seem small to you, but to me they were the highlight of the year thus far.  Sure, I could give more details, but those I’d like to keep to myself.  It was a couple personal moments for me.  I was so excited.  It’s like meeting an idol.  Or something like that.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  And each of you, given the opportunity, should take the chance.  It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.