So, I’ve finally had the chance to sit down and give Girlfiend’s EP a solid listen that isn’t completely tinged by my bleak outlook on the world. This may or may not have a good idea. There is something about music which just feels more real when you are clutching to what little hope you have when all you want to do is die. Nevertheless, I’ve put this off long enough, and I think that now is the time to jump decisively into the deep end and see if I can review an album. I’ve put links to each song on their Bandcamp page so that you can give their stuff a listen, and then tell me what I’ve said is wrong (Also, if you like the album, maybe think about picking it up (I am not being paid to say this)).
What is most striking about this song is how it appears to feel like Elliot Smith hung out with Simon and Garfunkel, and decided to record this song. It has the upbeat melodies which were the hallmark of S&G, while mixing in the imperfect (yet somehow contextually perfect) vocalizations of the singer.
This feels more directly Elliott Smith, with the melancholy tone and pervading sense of hopelessness. The organ is a particularly nice touch to counterpoint the discordant nature of the lyrics. For most of the song, everything seems just a little off… but when you listen to the lyrics, you see that this fits perfectly, and as the song builds, everything falls into place, creating a melodically pleasing dystopian vision which the singer has been describing. This is a wonderful exploration of the inherent instability within relationships, and captures marvelously that moment just before you consciously know that everything is over.
More than anything, this song reminds me of the quieter tunes from the college rock scene that was hanging around the edges of grunge. I like the splashes of electric with come in to color what could otherwise be a fairly straightforward acoustic ballad. My main issue with this tune has nothing to do with the music, but its title, which led me to believe that is would be more Star Trek-themed. Sadly, it is not.
“a falling satellite,
just to prove you’re right.”
It’s embarrassing to admit to myself just how much I identify with this lyric. While not everything falls seamlessly into place in this track, it works pretty well overall. It makes me remember back to my days sitting in coffee shops in the Pacific Northwest and watching the falling rain, while trying to figure out why I seemed so much better able to stay alone than to find someone who might want to share their life with me.
By far, this is the most musically beautiful song on the E.P. It could be that I am a huge fan of songs which so beautifully capture the exquisite pain of a love which is no more that just doesn’t want to leave. That being said, however, I do have a small reservation with this song. It can be problematic to include profanity, which is saying something if you know me in person (Think: In Bruges). I personally don’t mind if it’s (I can’t believe I’m going to say this) ejaculated in a poignant moment or just an f-bomb screamed in rage, but I think that trying to melodically convey the sentiment tends to make the whole thing a bit jarring, at least for me.
I am sitting here, listening to this, reminded of nothing more than The Oblivion Seekers’ 1995 album, Spirit of America. It seems to me that this song probably works really well live, and speaks to the fears and need to rebel which every young adult feels more than anything. Back twenty years ago, I would have held this song up and marched behind it, especially with the lyric, “you don’t know if you’re outgunned until you try.” Of course, now I’m in my mid-thirties, and it seems that the only thing I really want to change is the channel on my television, which is so depressing that I can’t believe that I just shared that with all of you.
So, overall, I enjoyed Comrade Isodora Duncan, which I initially described as sounding like Simon and Garfunkel having decided to record Little Shop of Horrors (not a bad thing).There were a couple of moments when it didn’t work for me, but in general, I would say that I wouldn’t skip it if it was playing on Pandora, which may not sound like high praise, but then you don’t know how much I am unwilling to sit through something I don’t care for. And at $5, it’s not a bad deal. So, if you like, help support singer/songwriter Hanna Tashjian as she continues to tour around… places. And if you don’t like it, well, I guess that just means that you are a bad person.
I had a chance to sit down with Ms. Tashjian a little while ago, and we got to talking almost in an interview-type format.
So, tell me a little bit about yourself. What made you you?
I’ll decline the biography. If you want a sob story you can listen to my songs and assume I’m appropriately tortured. I don’t have much interest in filling in the blanks there.
Okay, fair enough. Tell me a little about your musical history…
I’ve been in bands playing drums since I was 14, performing live and taking primitive stabs at recording. There’s only about two reasons why someone leaves the band environment to go solo: it falls apart for unrelated reasons and they don’t find new bandmates, or they’re a control freak. I’m pretty solidly in the latter camp, hah; with a lot of the bands I was in I felt like I was getting in a lot of fights over creative decisions. That was about the time I started learning to play guitar, around 15 or 16 I think. That was also around the age I started writing poetry. I had an affinity for words and wordplay even as a kid, and the new challenge of making it actually mean something was an interesting one for a while. Thankfully, however, none of the writings from the era have survived to this day.
I feel grateful that some of my earlier pieces did not survive as well. So how did you go from poet to songwriter? Seriously. I just can’t seem to do it myself.
Even when I had the two separate pieces, putting them together was still a feat. I spent a pretty disheartening couple years figuring out how to translate the noise in my head into something tangible, something I could actually commit to tape. I’m still working on that, if I’m entirely honest. I think most musicians are. Your ideas get more and more ambitious and you have to figure out how to make them work. I still play some of older songs live and they give me the sense that I’m going back through a high school diary when I’m doing it, with all the weird little things you thought were cool back then scattered around. I’ll probably feel the same way in 2-3 years from now, like “wow, I was really fucked up in my early 20s, huh?”
I think that if you’re not fucked up in your early 20’s, you’re doing something wrong. So, you’ve learned how to patch songs together from the ether. What happened next?
Okay, so after the dissolution of basically every other band I was in, I formed this band with my best friend, Bowie Twombly on drums (that went through a rotating cast of names, the longest running being the completely nonsensical Flied By Owls) in 2011 or so, basically under the premise that I’d be the main songwriter for once. That worked out super great for a while, since my ego when it came to songwriting was so fragile that it was hard showing unproven material to someone I didn’t unconditionally trust. On the other hand, I was also writing these songs that clearly wouldn’t play in a rock band, and I had no idea what to do with them. I wanted to make this band work, and at the same time it felt like I was cutting off half my songwriting to do so. The band came to a sorta de facto ending; there’s a more complicated truth there, but I have no interest in getting into it. He went to Europe, and I lost the place I was living and ended up back at my parents’ house.
That’s rough. I tried going home again. It didn’t take. Was that the genesis of Girlfiend, then?
So my band broke up, I had just broken up with my first real girlfriend, and my best friend was off somewhere away from me. Music was my only real point of stability, so that was where I lived. I wrote a lot. I opened up a soundcloud account and started recording songs into my cell phone and posting them on the internet, warts and all. When you go for lo-fi recordings, there’s definitely a sense of urgency you’re trying to capture, a sorta lightning-in-a-bottle of someone just coming up with something great, just now. That said, I gotta feel that this was halfway a defensive tactic, like if I didn’t try very hard I could at least fall back on the idea that I wasn’t trying. But the truth is, a few people noticed. I started making connections and getting shows and getting somewhere with my music, despite my affinity for falling-down-drunk performances. (in my defense, just because I can’t stand up doesn’t mean I can’t play!) In one of the more surreal moments of my life, I was at a friend’s show and this woman — who I later found out had caught my show a few months prior — tapped me on the shoulder and asked “hey, aren’t you the girl from Girlfiend?” I think my exact response was “…depends on who’s asking.” It’s weird though, like I don’t know if I could deal with having any broader level of recognition than that, but it was fun feeling like a movie star for a second.
So, what have you been doing recently?
In the summer of 2014, I recorded a 6-song EP in actual decent production quality, entitled Comrade Isodora Duncan, and went on tour through California. Shortly thereafter, I had a pretty severe mental breakdown and kinda retreated from everything. I spent about a year in something resembling recovery, though I’m still not convinced it was, particularly. But, at least now I’m back, I’m going on tour with Diana Regan, we’re recording a split EP together, and I’m trying to end this bit on a hopeful note. Maybe if I say it that way it’ll come true.
Well, good luck to you, and thanks for stopping by!
And with that, this edition of After Dark has come to an end. Thanks for checking it out, and I hope that you enjoy the E.P.!
I feel a rant coming on, brought about by a growing sense of irritation. The blood within my veins has begun to boil, and if I’m not careful, I’m going to blow my top. This has obvious advantages, of course, over the general state of listless melancholy in which I’ve been immersed for the past few… let’s say months. Anything to distract me from the handful of sand which is emptying itself rapidly into the bottom chamber. I’ve been forbidden by my wife from going into detail (she doesn’t want me starting a civil war within the confines of our tiny apartment), but let’s just say that I am at a loss for civil words when it comes to this. I don’t want to claim more credit than I’m due, or for that matter, even the credit which I may claim without exaggeration. But I have managed to be there for someone when he had nowhere else to turn (actually, a few people, but I’m focusing on just this one right now), and when I could use- no, not even a helping hand, simply the fulfillment of his obligations. Instead, I’m being treated to childish insolence and petty power games because it has been shown that I apparently do not hold the power to carry through on ultimatums.
In any other circumstance, he wouldn’t dare to do this. No other landlord would accept this level of disrespect, and yet there’s nothing I can do to remedy the situation because it’s all tied up in family politics. You can’t just bail on a lease with less than two days until the rent is due (no matter if the landlord has given a three-day grace period for payment), and say that you’re just “waiting to see what happens.” You want to leave? Fine. You let me know right now for next month and when that final date has come, you get the hell out of my house. I don’t care if you are an “also ran” upon the lease to which we all signed our names, you bear the same responsibility to this legal contract as the rest of us. If I told the landlord this very day that we were bailing on the place, there is not a chance in hell that we would get our deposit back (to which this person contributed absolutelynothing), and our landlord would be well within his rights to take legal action on the whole merry lot of us. And if we thought that we could wait until three days until after the rent was due, and have half a chance of leaving our stuff here while we were moving because some sort of baby situation had popped up, we would be financially responsible for a month of rent on an apartment we were leaving, and if we didn’t put the money up, our belongings would confiscated and sold off to defray the costs we had incurred.
I wish that I could say that I was going to be the adult with all of this, and help gently guide the next generation toward wisdom of their own, but I’m fairly pissed off about this whole ordeal, and sometimes scorched earth can be a learning moment. I’m probably just overreacting, or possibly not nearly enough: it’s hard to tell with passions running parallel with commercial airlines at cruising altitude. My wife was right when she told me that I’ve let people walk all over me. When I was the boss (at both locations) at my last job, I did my best to take care of everybody else first, and even put the good of the store before myself. I’d learned that style of management from people I’d admired, and seen firsthand the horrorshow that came from a lesser style. But those people have long since burned out (myself included), and what do they have to show for it? Grey hair, no hair, failing health, or a complete abandonment of that career. And yet that was the only option which I could have taken. Sure, I was fool, but at least I was an honorable fool.
And now I seem to be drowning in a sea of irritation. Everything these days seems to piss me off. I know I’ve mentioned that depression is just rage turned inward, but after weeks of beating the living crap out of myself, it’s nice to share the torment with others, especially when I’m right (which seems to be a rare occurrence these days). Both my wife and brother have barraged me with the same advice (with which I don’t know that I agree), and now it looks like I will have to swallow what little pride remains and follow the advice of another person. Which makes me doubly pleased to be able to come down with righteous fury on someone more deserving.
If I stopped to think about it, and to tried to be more reasonable, I suppose that I could find it within me to be slightly more accommodating. But, in addition to safeguarding my own family, I am still trying to help my grownup children learn life lessons they will need once they have left the nest. With us, the only true risk which they might face is a dressing down, But in the real world, there are consequences which cannot be ignored. I know this because the lesson was hammered into me during the excitement of my twenties. Back then, I was single and childless, and failure simply meant resetting the clock back another seven years. I have since tested my ability to cheat the inevitable (to surprising success- more than I’m sure that I have merited), but even those heady days are soon to pass. The next job which I take will be the last which I will work within the borders of the United States. I was hoping to have a little better luck with writing so that it might not come back to working for The Man, but it looks like my timing was off by a year or so.
Thank you for bearing with me, and I hope, at least, that I have been informative in my excoriations (I know that I feel better now). Have a good evening, everyone!
I should be asleep, but I’ve learned that after days like this, it’s best not to chance it. I woke up feeling not quite right with the world, in the gastrointestinal department, and by the time that the afternoon had come, my stomach issues had cleared up, but an old man pain within my head had taken hold. It comes on just like a migraine, but this type seems to be inspired by a change in weather, and I can still cram food into my face. It’s been chill and windy all day long, which is a turnabout from how it’s been the past couple of days. Or it could all be because I always feel like crap after spending the night on the sofa because the three of us, Wildflower, the Minkey, and myself, do not fit comfortably in the bed we must all share. David used to have a bed, but it suffered some crippling structural attacks and is no more. And this problem of ours has only been plaguing us for a few months now. Before, when my wife was working nights, my son and I would split the bed, and then I’d give up my forty percent to Wildflower when I went off to work. But ever since she’s been working mornings, it’s been a challenge to our marriage.
I don’t know if you all know this, but it’s hard to get along with your significant other when you have to share a bed with your child. Worse is when you never actually get to sleep with the person whom you married because there are too many distractions in the living room for your child to manage to fall asleep (never mind that he weighs almost nothing, and the sofas he has jumped upon and warped don’t bother him at all). Spend too much time without a little hanky panky, and you wind up with a roommate. Leave it like that for too long, and suddenly you don’t have even that. No, I’m not saying that my marriage is falling apart, though it has certainly seen much better times. But with the both of us in some sort of pain most of the time, and stressed out about finances and the number of people crammed into our two bedroom apartment, there’s not a lot of room for us to pencil in some much-needed quality time. Hell, the last date night we had (outside the apartment) was when we went to see Apocalyptica last month. And the time before that predates this blog by three weeks. I can’t actually remember the time before that, but it has to have been sometime between our third anniversary and last November. Right?
All of this has begun to take its toll. We still make each other laugh, but not as much, and the arguments usually take longer to resolve. And when we do fight, instead of building to the Climax of the Unspeakable, we oftentimes will just start there, and then not speak to one another for a day or two. The thing is, it’s not really anybody’s fault. We both sort of just let it get this way. There are just certain things that aren’t going to happen when I’m stressed out and exhausted, and she is constantly focused on everything which must be done to keep our home remotely livable. Times like this, especially in the dead of night, are what terrify me most. What if this is it? I ask myself, rubbing at my temples, What if we’re not coming back from this one? I sometimes wonder if we stay together out of love, or some sort of dedication to Mutually Assured Destruction. For myself, I can say that, barring domestic violence or infidelity, there will never come a time when I might have had enough to call it quits. What scares me is knowing just how much of a pain in the ass I am while resting in my natural state, and wondering if I’ve managed to destroy her love, just like I’ve done with every other woman whom I’ve dated.
And now those of you who were wondering when I’d bring my mental illness into this can whisper to your friends that you told them so.
Meeting and marrying Wildflower is most likely the best thing which could have happened to me, and I have a nasty tendency to want to get revenge on my happiness. I will find every reason to be unreasonable, and be able to back it up with facts and logic, just so I can drive the wedge a little bit further between us. To the age-old question of being right or being happy, I simply smile a twisted frown and declare that I’d take happiness, but I’m never wrong. I don’t want to think about what that kind of obstinacy must be like to share a marriage with, and if Fallen Catholics could be nominated for sainthood, I’d put up my dear wife’s name. I just wish that I could show her what I see when I tell her that everything will work out fine. I mean, I do have a track record (second only to the Phoenix) for full recoveries (and then some) from ashes of my failures (or, as I like to call them: reminders of why I like to live indoors), but I can understand why she might balk a little at the prospect of putting our future in the hands of maybe.
I just wish that this pain would go away. I know it is nudging me toward explosion, and when I blow, that will be the end of it. Maybe if we had enough money so we wouldn’t have to worry about the little things (like food, shelter, and clothing for three people), I could show her.
Why does it feel like I’m still waiting for something? Like there’s at least one more piece which I am expecting to fall in place. Someone I haven’t met. Something as of yet I haven’t done. I feel closer than ever to life I should be living, yet it seems just out of phase with the reality in which I’m currently stranded. I just wish that I had someone to talk to about all of this, not that I don’t enjoy the company of all of you. I wish that I knew, with the certainty of foreknowledge, exactly what the hell it is that I’m supposed to do. In retrospect, all of this angst will have been pointless, of course. The decision which I make will have been the only one available under the circumstances. I’m just missing the final clue to changing my perspective, so that I can see the bigger picture.
I know, I know. I promised you all that I was done with these After Dark: Blasts From The Past. But I saved out this one for two reasons: 1) It’s my anniversary, and I might just want to sleep in, and 2) I still feel the topic is relevant today.
Go ahead, enjoy it!
A Lesson in America and the English Language
October 10th, 2008
When I was six years old, I received a lecture from my best friend’s grandmother. We had be running around like six year olds, and I had said that I hated something. I don’t remember what. But just seconds after I’d said it, my friend’s grandmother said to me, “Don’t use that word.”
“What word?” I asked.
“Do you really hate [said thing in question]?”
“Well, no… I just really don’t like it.”
“Then say that. You should never say ‘hate.’ It’s such an ugly and violent word. Say what you mean.”
Feeling unjustly chastised, I agreed, and my buddy and I went on playing.
That memory has stuck with me for two reasons. The first, because we all hold on to embarrassing moments and remember them far better than our happiest. And secondly, the older I get, the more I realize how right she was.
In my life, I genuinely hate maybe only a couple of people. Trust me, they are very bad people whose names start with the letter “J”, and, honestly, hating them hurts me more than them. Unless I see them in person.
Why am I bringing this up? Proposition 8 in California. For those of you who either do not live here or are unaware, Proposition 8 wants to overturn the California Supreme Court’s overturning the previous Proposition 22 from 2000, which banned same-sex marriage in the state by amending the state constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.
In the interest of transparency, I have always been against this proposition, and on November 4th, will cast the same vote.
What bothers me in the analysis, is the call for “tolerance.”
I tolerate the old person in front of me in the register at a fast food joint for counting out pennies for her senior coffee.
I tolerate the woman with 3 shopping carts at the 99 Cent Only store ahead of me in the checkout line, arguing with the cashier over obvious things (Why does this receipt say $5.95 for this item? I thought everything here was only 99 cents! (Mind you, she had purchased 6 of the same item)).
1. To allow without prohibiting or opposing; permit.
2. To recognize and respect (the rights, beliefs, or practices of others).
3. To put up with; endure.
a. To answer affirmatively: accept an invitation.
b. To agree to take (a duty or responsibility).
2. To receive (something offered), especially with gladness or approval: accepted a glass of water; accepted their contract.
3. To admit to a group, organization, or place: accepted me as a new member of the club.
a. To regard as proper, usual, or right: Such customs are widely accepted.
b. To regard as true; believe in: Scientists have accepted the new theory.
c. To understand as having a specific meaning.
5. To endure resignedly or patiently: accept one’s fate.
I have excluded medical definitions, although they are interesting in the context of this post.
So people talk about tolerance like its original meaning (from Latin): To bear. Whereas acceptance focuses on its origin: to receive.
Therein lies the difference. Are we only to bear the existence of those who differ from us, or do we receive them into our lives? If everyone is equal, then the choice is obvious.
Unless people are saying what they really mean.
Point After (In the spirit of Football Season)
Gay used to mean happy. Are we so self-loathing and morally bankrupt a people that we seek to demonize and ridicule happiness?
Just a thought.
See? I used to go on all sorts of moral and ethical rants back in the day as well.
I’ll be taking this weekend off to celebrate my anniversary, but don’t worry: I’ll be back on Monday with something that I’ve been meaning to write about: The Teen Center on Bainbridge Island, Washington. And if you absolutely cannot live without my rambling words, feel free to peruse any of the other 98 posts I’ve written since I started this blog.
Thank you for support, and I look forward to your continued readership.
Now go outside, and have some fun, and come back on Monday for my 100th Post (which coincides with the 100th Day I’ve been running this blog).
Welcome back to the fifth and final installment in the After Dark: A Blast From The Past series. Chapter One dealt with the beginnings of my blog on Myspace until around the time that I began to (biologically) be a dad. Chapter Two focused on the news of Flor’s pregnancy (through the end of ’06), and my coming to terms with my own Dad. Chapter Three finished out my son’s gestation and welcomed him into the world. Chapter Four was mostly me whinging on about the fact that I had no idea what it was that I was doing as a father. Each of those chapters focused on just a couple of months or so, and that was alright, as there was a whole lot going on. But for this final installment, we’re going to be covering a lot of ground. This chapter is dealing with events from October, 2007 until the end of my old blog in April of 2009. But before you become discouraged, and bookmark this page to read when you’ve got a free week or two, just know that I wasn’t writing a whole lot back then, and that I only chose a few posts to share with you. Let’s get started…
Life within the Cave of Batmart
October 17th, 2007
So it’s time to give an update on the monkey. I’m sorry if any of you are uninterested or already bored with baby stories, but too bad. It’s either that or work stories, and no one, myself included, feels like hearing those.
Today’s subject is poop. I realize that he is on a liquid diet (one rather unlike those of his irish ancestors), but nothing is quite so daunting as facing a diaper full of a multicolored stew. It’s especially appalling if it’s taken me a while to decipher his grunts and cries, and he’s managed to spread the goo all about himself, his clothes, and everything near him. He is a poop artist and the world is his canvas.
We have been developing a rudimentary form of communication. He cries, and I begin to question him as to why. For example:
David: (Pathetic moaning) Me: What’s wrong sweetheart? David: (Face scrunched up, pathetic moaning upgrades to soft wail) Me: Are you hungry? David: (Hits my eye with his razor sharp claw, continues to moan) Me: David, please don’t hit daddy in the- David: (Puts his fist in my mouth, and stares at me, whimpering) Me: (After removing his hand, with only minimal cuts along my gums) Mucho pee pee? Mucho pee pee? David (Apparently understanding the first time, rolls onto his side and places his butt near my face. Wailing continues) Me: What is that? Old cheese? Oh god… did you? David: (Stops for a moment, tears welling in his eyes) Me: Mucho poo poo? Eres un poposo? Are you my little poop monster? David: (Smiles, punches me in the head, grabs my hair and pulls)
It was a Poo Stain. And colorful. It must have been like a quart of it. And of course, the second I start undoing the diaper, he rams his feet directly toward the primordial ooze, like a deity unsatisfied with his creation. So I grab his legs with one hand, and try to mop up the… okay, I’m running out of colorful metaphors… shit.
The whole ordeal takes just a few minutes, but leaves an irrevocable scar. On me. So gross. I mean, I know that his diet is directly influencing the nature of the… grossness, but, I mean, after thousands of years of human evolution, would it be too much to ask that maybe it come out in sort of pellets… I mean, not like Milk Duds, that might hurt him, but maybe like a warm Tootsie Roll. Something easy.
And another thing: Why is it that he can’t multitask? I mean, I’ll toss a couple pee rags out, and he’s fine. But when I change his poo pants, he waits until he’s cleaned, baby wiped, and powdered and then goes nuts with number one. I mean, what the hell is the deal there? He feels uncomfortable soiling himself while he is himself, already soiled?
Okay, enough of the nappies. I have one more anecdote to share.
So, I’ve been calling him “Monkey” since before he was born. Initially Flor was livid with me, insisting that he was a beautiful baby (and before she’d even seen him, no less). And then he was born, albeit without a tail, and indeed, aside from boobs, he was the most beautiful thing I’d seen. And then I noticed all the hair on his upper back. And lower back. And the back of his ears. And his eyebrows, while still defining themselves, are already threatening to become one.
No son of mine will bear the name of unibrow.
So one day, I was bored, and he was distracted by something shiny and/or noisy. I grabbed him gently by the ears and pulled them forward. Lo and behold I found a balding chimpanzee staring back at me.
I love him. I just wish he’d smell a little less like a broken fridge during a summer heat wave.
I think I was handling the adjustment quite well, thank you very much. At least I could find the humor at the bottom of a dirty diaper. That’s something, anyway. The next post was one of those “Tag” things that we did to all our friends that seems to have not fully made the transition over to Facebook. I’m only going to include some of them, as I find them amusing.
The Random Tag Blogger Strikes Again
October 25th, 2007
1) I hope to be living in Mexico next year and writing my books.
2) My first adult relationship was with a woman 19 years my senior.
Her 1st husband was 19 years her senior.
3) I am more or less happily married (without the married part), but I’m kind of terrified that I’ll wind up a widower and in 11 years time, dating someone half my age.
4) My first encounter with someone very special to me, and very important in shaping the nature of the man I was to become, involved him telling me to pick him up and spin him around.
5) I own both seasons of Thundercats on DVD (all 4 sets). I can now justify this by virtue of being a father.
6) This is my 100th blog post.
7) Sometimes I miss my friends so very much. Both friends from long ago, and friends I’ve just recently slipped through my fingers.
8) I was a father twice. But one of my children I was fated never to meet, as his mother ended both the pregancy and the relationship. (Both happened within weeks of meeting the man she would leave me for).
Side note: She was my employee when we got together, and when she transferred to another restaurant, she left me for her employee.
Addendum: When that location closed, I was forced to absorb their employees into mine, and so her new boyfriend became my line cook. I hate people.
9) Some day I would love to be able to fly out everyone special from every time in my life to meet my wife and son. I still suffer from the Bi-Polar Bears, but any of you who have known me would be able to see that I am, at least on some instinctual level, actually happy now. What a trip.
[Fed] and I were once considering sending out junk mail with the following important notice:
YOU MAY HAVE ALREADY WON A GOAT!
See? I can do lighthearted! Also, wow. I thought that I’d be living in Mexico by 2008…. And speaking of things that I just cannot let go:
101 Best Ways to Romanticize The Past
November 6th, 2007
Okay, so we are on Blog Number 101. I would like to thank everybody who reads this (all 5 of you) and for doing so often. Just a few numbers:
Out of 100 blogs, I received 82 comments, 41 Kudos, and 2666 views. I almost feel special.
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but that seems like a ridiculous number of views per post. Maybe it’s just because I’m only up to 700 with this one, and the writing is far more consistent and generally better, but I’m a little jealous of my numbers on MySpace, not that they were good for anything. Also, I want Kudos!
Things I Hate
January 15th, 2008
A Two-Party Political System
Christians who feel persecuted (Try being eaten by lions, then complain to me!), and who are, in fact, the most judgemental, hypocritcal, abhorrent wastes of life, seeking out ways in which we could make the world a better place, and destroying them (See also: Soulless corporations).
People who think that invading Iraq and building a border fence are good moves.
People who still find Reefer Madness to be educational (but not in the obvious, “Goverment Gone Wild” way).
People who say Bill Clinton ruined this country and George Bush is fixing it.
People who use the word “synergy” and mean it.
People who cannot accept that artists need a wife and a mistress.
My dad, for being an asshole and not even responding by post after I mailed him a letter announcing the birth of his grandson, and trying to reassure him I was not after any of the thousands of dollars in back child support that he never paid.
Not being able to put DVD library onto iTunes and my iPod.
Having to work 11 straight days, even if two of them were only meetings and, combined, lasted less than 4 hours- I had to put on pants: Not a day off.
Not having numbered these so I could tell if this is an appreciably large collection of gripes or merely minor bitchfest.
Customers who think by yelling at me or my employees, I will somehow change my mind (also related, people who bang on the door after close and demand to be granted entrance. Fuck you! We have had these hours for 2 1/2 years. Quit trying to be the last customer before close, because I can almost guarantee you that you won’t be).
Thinking up more things to be angry at.
… And yes, I did speak to my mother today, why?
Now, back to the Minkey!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
February 14th, 2008
So last night my son stabbed me in the eye with a Valentine’s Day card. I went to the ER today (apparently this did not qualify for the $20 Urgent Care visit), and was told I had a Corneal Abrasion. I think I said something like that last night. Missed today at work because the pain is unreal. I still can’t really see. Still love the minkey, though, but please, please please NO CARDS! He’s cut off until he develops motor control.
Now he just leaves them laying around everywhere. Best to just avoid them, honestly.
The next post skips ahead a bit until September of ’08. I’d left my job at McDonald’s a few months earlier and… well, let Young Batmart explain:
Back From The Dead
September 17th, 2008
So it’s been forever since I’ve written anything. Lots of stuff going on. Kind of.
I quit my job at McDonald’s almost 5 months ago, leaving due to a nasty case of ethics. The new owners at of our restaurant had, in the first week alone, fired all but one of our senior citizen lobby attendants, dismissed a developmentally handicapped lobby attendant / prep person, and let the Store Manager go as well.
They then began to terrorize remaining employees and managers (aside from myself), under the theory, we’d rather fire you, but if you quit, we’re not liable for unemployment. This is a disturbingly ubiquitous trend, which does not seem to have abated over these past six and a half years. I only stayed around for the time I did in a futile attempt to try and shield my people from this harassment. But as that didn’t work, and they cut my pay, began charging me for my health insurance, and insisting on transferring me to another location, I said enough was enough and left. No point in staying if I couldn’t do anything to help, and was getting screwed over in the process.
I figured it would be okay, as Flor, Minkey and I would be leaving for Mexico in a couple months, so I didn’t worry about finding a new job, figuring I could finally spend some time with my son. When we found out that we wouldn’t be getting the money Flor’s brother owed us, I began to worry a bit. But we already had tickets to go to Seattle to visit my family in mid June for the Minkey’s 1st Birthday, so I didn’t see a huge point in getting a job, only to start and then be gone for a week.
So we got back, and I slowly began trying to get jobs that I was interested in. They were less interested in me. I wan’t worried. Something would come through. Maybe the money from the brother in law would arrive.
Not so much.
August came, and I updated my resume on Monster, and immediately began receiving calls for phone interviews. For restaurant management jobs. That wanted me to have a car. In the Bay Area. What the hell?
And so we come to September. A little more desperate now. No one calling about my resume on Monster. My best shot is now a sports bar opening in a couple weeks. But to pass the time, I’m housecleaning. For those of you who didn’t know me 8-10 years ago, I used to do that. I vowed “Never Again.” The beauty of that is that now we need to pay for daycare again, and after factoring that in, I’m only bringing in like $10/day.
Also, in Monkey News:
So David can walk now. I left him on the floor in the bedroom and walked out into the backyard. He was about 30 seconds behind me, and when he emerged into the great outdoors, he had a neon green duffle bag around his neck, wearing it like a WWF championship belt (with neck strap) and holding an empty cranberry juice bottle in one hand, its cap in the other. He’s managed to dislodge a sock, and so it was like this that he came into view. I immediately ran inside and grabbed my camera and began taking photos of him that I will use to humiliate him when he’s getting ready to try to breed. It wasn’t until that he fell forward a bit that I noticed something.
Whether it was his carefree smile, or two rosy cheeks staring back at me, I realized that he was missing a key piece of clothing. I ran back inside, retracing his probable steps (and looking under furniture) until I came back to the bedroom, the exact spot where I’d left him. There it was, his diaper, laying on the floor next to the bed, looking as it had when I’d last seen it on him, save for the right side strap, which appeared battered and frayed and otherwise mangled, barely hanging on to the back of the diaper.
You should have heard the screams of protest when I firmly attached it back on him. Maybe he didn’t like the Duct Tape.
For those of you wondering, yes, I did find employment later that year. I went to work at Blondie’s Pizza in Berkeley. I then stayed at that job for nearly six years, until I felt that it was time to move on. And whereas my old blog sort of fell off after I quit my job, this new blog was born from the ashes of my most recent employment.
There are just a couple more snippets to go, mainly introducing things that I am still dealing with today.
Sometimes Life Is Not Enough
February 19th, 2009
Sorry I haven’t written anything here for hella. I kinda got hooked on the Twitter a little bit. Have been enjoying my new job at Blondie’s Pizza.
Oh- getting married on March 13th in a civil ceremony in Oakland, with a nice little gathering at my place on the 15th. Anyone living in the area or willing to pay for their own travel accommodations and lodging is welcome to attend. We are registered at iTunes.
There was no gathering. Fed and his brother were the only two people not related to either Flor or myself that made the effort to attend. Of course, one of the people who did attend our wedding was our beautiful daughter. She seemed thrilled.
And that brings us to our final post. Will you miss A Blast From The Past as much as I will? Actually, to be honest, I’m a little relieved not to have to keep reading through all of the old blogs. You guys are seriously getting the best. Out of 121 posts, I’ve only shared 43, and most of those have been edited to make me look at least somewhat sane. Oh, and then there’s the bonus stuff, I guess. Still, that’s only around a third of what I wrote. And I went through it all, just for you guys.
Hug Me, I’m Goddamn Cuddly!
April 13th, 2009
Tell me if you can figure this out.
She’s 19, lives at home, takes care of her infant brother by using my computer and watching my cable on my tv all goddamn day, eats all the food in the house, quadrupling our grocery budget, has a mother who buys her clothes, prepaid cards so she can call her friends in Mexico (when she’s not using Windows Messenger (which is never)), drinks MY BEER, makes it impossible for me to enjoy my days off, as I can no longer roam about the house without pants, isn’t working, isn’t going to school (in the interests of full disclosure, she’ll be starting an ESL class tomorrow, but that’s it!), refuses to leave the house, is afraid of making friends, even though she can easily overcome the language barrier with a frighteningly large proportion of the populace, as there are plenty of latinos here, and a large chunk of gringos speaking bad Spanish.
And here it comes…
When I was her age, I was busting my ass cleaning houses, helping take care of a kid over half my age (which was one of the only satisfying things to come out of those years). I had to watch the woman I love succumb to drug addiction, and lose everything. Again and agan. I was watching the worst in humanity that doesn’t involve murder. All of this culminated in a nervous breakdown.
And she’s stressed out.
We are getting along much better now. I think that motherhood has mellowed my daughter just a little.
So that’s it! A Blast From The Past has come to an end!
Thank you for spending your Thursdays with me, and I’ll see you all again real soon!
When I last left you, I had just become a father. Let’s look in and see how that was working out for me:
Updates from the Fatherland
August 23rd, 2007
So, he’s 8 weeks old today, but will be two months old on monday.
Stop and think about that: WTF? I think we need a new system of time measurement. Says the guy who thinks the metric system will destroy the universe.
Sorry I haven’t written anything for, like, 2 months, but, well, I’ve been kinda busy. Turns out that babies don’t much care if you’re working 10+ hour days, and would like to try to sleep a little before doing it again. But his mother has been more than fantastic, and honestly, I haven’t had to wake up more than a few times. Also, I’ve only changed half a diaper. I got it started, and was replaced by a professional before I could screw it all up.
For awhile, I was pretty sure he hated me. He always seemed to cry whenever I got near him. I came to realize this was less because he hated me, and more because I have inactive mammary glands. But now as he gets older, I am able to amuse him. He still cries on whim, but I’m trying to help him learn to communicate. To date he has actually spoken these words: “Okay”, “Hi”, “Chin”, and “Fuck You”. I may have to begin editing what I say while at home. Some people have said that he’s too young to actually be able to speak, but I would like to point out that he was in the womb for an extended stay, and nothing speeds up development like unlimited resources. I just wrote a sentence explaining that he was incapable of real usage, and he was only repeating recent sounds, which in and of itself is still fairly remarkable, but then I realized that he is making those “noises” in context. Whether or not he understands what they mean is beyond the scope of my experience. But the fact that he has identified these sounds, and is trying to make them as seems appropriate, is something I do find fascinating.
He also makes an assortment of guttural sounds, indicative of some kind of attempt at speech. Unfortunately, his mouth is still to unsuitable to most forms of speech. At this stage, his cute giganto-cheeks are huge muscles used, in conjunction with his tongue and gum stubs to extract sustenance. My point being that his tongue gets in the way.
He also drools a lot. Both his mother and my mother say it’s indicative of pre-teething. God, he’s not even a season old, and he’s trying to grow teeth. I haven’t taken a tape measure to him yet, but he’s gotta be over 2 feet now. And we weighed him a week ago, and he was already at 21 lbs.
To be fair, I am still fascinated by the things he does, but they are usually not “Stop the presses! I have to tell the world!” interesting anymore. It’s really easy to fall down the rabbit hole of babies, but by the time they’re doing all the things you couldn’t wait for them to be able to start doing, you’re more concerned with getting them to actually do them on a semi-regular basis. Not really the accolades that they were expecting, just a higher standard to live up to.
Nothing prepares you
August 26th, 2007
So, I was fairly nervous about being a dad before David was actually born. There had been two women before in my life with whom I’d wanted to have children: The first was already a mother, and didn’t want to have another baby, and the other was a psychotic Panamanian whose great aspiration was to become a stripper. She actually was pregnant, but terminated the pregnancy right after she’d convinced me that being a father wouldn’t be so terrible. Of course, I’ve always said that if I had a son, his name would be David, whereas she’d always dreamt of calling him Amir. Somewhere on a Playstation 2 memory card, I have a create-a-character in MVP 2004 called Amir Baxter. Of course, I no longer have either a Playstation 2 or MVP 2004, so I haven’t had much of a chance to resist that.
I haven’t really mentioned it, but the loss of my son kinda messed me up. I’d had another close call, where an ex had told me she thought she might be pregnant, and flippantly, I quoted “The Doors” and gave my support for her single motherhood or choice to abort. I sort of go back and forth on it. Or, at least, I did. It’s a little late now.
I mean, I suffer from Bi-Polar Disorder, and there is a chance that it can be passed on. I’m not sure I know how to be a dad. I never knew mine, and, I’m sort a creature of self-interest. So when she told me she was pregnant, I naturally freaked the hell out. I wasn’t even sure I really liked this chick. I mean, she was totally into me, but in a scary way, and, really, aside from the convenience, I wasn’t terribly motivated to stay with her. A short while later, her “visitor” arrived, and I began to seriously think about cashing in while I was still ahead. But her love of me was too overwhelming, and I began to fall a little for her.
And then the night came when I did. Drunkenly, and without caution, I pollinated the Flower, and promptly passed the hell out. A short while afterwards, she informed me that this time it was not a drill. I don’t believe that I have ever uttered the words, “Are you sure?” so many times in so short a time.
Suddenly seeing my life coming to an ignoble close, I proffered the thought that perhaps we might just take care of this small medical issue, remove the parasite, and call it a do-over. For a month I tried everything to persuade her to come around to my way of thinking. I’d stressed the dangers of my bi-polar and perhaps exaggerated the probability of its hereditary transference. I beat out her Latina Catholic arguments.I won every argument on a rational level. Have you seen the pictures of my son?
I learned a valuable lesson that month: Nothing can withstand the beating of the biological clock. It was like a Poe story, only more frightening. I was seriously thinking about cutting and running, hoping that, if her arguments for love were true, she would solve my problem if I just left. But then I realized it would leave me with a child in Mexico that I would never get to know (For anyone thinking, “Wait! If you wanted to find him enough, you’d have been able.”: You don’t actually know me very well, do you? Or my Superhuman powers of apathy.). And I thought of the father that I have never known. I took a deep breath, cursed God for his amazingly similar sense of humor, and plunged wholeheartedly into the world of denial.
I managed to avoid most of her prenatal checkups, one of the few benefits of slowly working yourself to death. I also tried to keep her family at bay. I already hate meeting new people in general, and more than them, I hate new people to whom I must be nice and about whom I must pretend I give a shit.
Shortly after the beginning of the new year, we discovered that, according to something on the ultrasounds, he was at risk for Down Syndrome. Here was my way out! I argued that knowingly bringing into this world a child with such a disadvantage is not only irresponsible, but morally reprehensible, a sadistic act. I was told that he would be loved no matter what, and I agreed, but asked if it was fair to knowingly subject someone, especially someone we supposedly were to love to the taunts and mockery and general humiliation he would undoubtedly receive. There was a surefire way to know: an amniocentesis. But this was a somewhat risky procedure, and as we would not be hitting the reset button on her womb, moderately irrelevant.
I would like to point out that when pregnant, apparently most woman can become insatiably horny, and if you are unconcerned about disease, this provides an opportunity to dispense with the raincoat. Of course, from the moment she began showing, even slightly, I became unable to think of her as a sexual creature, and even though she has a daughter in Mexico, she was now somebody’s mother.
I slowly came around to the notion of parenthood and began trying to interact with David. By the time I could feel him moving, he was kicking fairly strongly, and seemingly enjoyed heavy metal by headphones. I spoke to him from time to time. He began kicking and punching me in the face, and although every one of the “experts” said he was just trying to interact with the point of contact he kind of remembered, I knew what the deal was.
So finally, after months of trying, she quit working. It amazed me how much faster my money was disappearing. I’d kind of been hoping that she’d given birth at work so that we could have gotten more money up until the end. Also it would have been an almost 100% chance that I could attend the birth.
42 weeks. He took after his daddy in that fashion. It got to the point where, on Tuesday the 26th, we’d set up an appointment to induce labor on the 28th, pretty much ensuring that he’d be born on June 29th. It seemed that God was trying to be funny again. But, despite my best efforts to do him in, it turns out that my son loved me. Wednesday morning, about 10:30am, her contractions began. It was a couple of hours later when they were serious enough to merit the mad dash to the hospital. Her water broke at 2:00pm, during the 1st examination to determine how far dilated she was. Mixed in with the amniotic fluid was his meconium (think baby’s 1st poo). Apparently when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, even if you haven’t started breathing yet.
And then it happened. At 8:03pm, Wednesday, June 27th, 2007, I witnessed the scariest thing I have ever seen: My son’s squished head being forced out of an area that, at least the last time I had seen it, was really far to small to accommodate it. I realize I will take some flak for this, but I found the entire process profoundly unsettling, extremely disturbing, and not in the least bit natural. It was finished at 8:10.
Everyone kept saying how big he was, but, well, he was still significantly smaller than me, so I was not impressed. 11 lbs, 14 oz., 22 inches long. They had him under the heat lamps, and were having difficulty getting him to breathe on his own, as he had most likely over-developed himself while procrastinating in utero, and begun trying to breathe. I watched his head slowly begin to reflate as I accompanied the nurse up to the NICU.
He seemed so weak, So helpless. I tried my best to stay out of the way and ask intelligent questions, but then they needed to do something which they thought might freak me out (intubate him, I believe), and suggested I go back down and take care of Mom. And so began the night of the gigantic pace.
It was a couple of days before I got the chance to hold him. I was debilitatingly nervous. I felt that if I was going to drop him or something, I’d rather that it not be in a hospital where they could see how terrible of a father I’d turned out to be.
A few days later, we got to take him home.
He cries a lot now, and generally, pretty much his current M.O. was described in the previous blog.
But I have made a real connection with my son. I’ve been able to sing him to sleep. I mean, most of the time, he prefers Mom over Dad, but I’m okay with that. When we’re playing the “chin” game, or I’m reading him chapters from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and he’s hanging off my every word…
I have begun to live my life again, finally breaking free of the continuous holding pattern I’ve been in for a decade. I still think God’s got a juvenile sense of humor, but as it’s mine as well, I cannot fault Him for it, merely feel disappointed that the Creator thinks this is all funny.
For true and for real, though, I have never felt more alive, as when I am gazing into his eyes, and he into mine, and it’s like we’ve known each other all his life, and neither of us can remember a life that was before him.
Wow. Sorry that went on for so long, but it was nice, at least for me, to take that stroll down amnesia lane. I’ve just got one more reflection on fatherhood that I’d like to leave you with this evening:
B.P.D.- Bi-Polar Disorder or Battle Point Drive?
September 4th, 2007
This is not a new revelation. It is, however, I believe, worth mentioning.
When I was 15, I’d planned on coming to California the summer after my freshman year. Life came up, and I put off my plans. Events coalesced, I met people, did favors, and set myself up for the summer of ’97. I met someone, fell in love, dropped out of school, and started working for myself. I had a, for lack of a better term, wife, and children (though not my own, I was actually received, as I’d still had fears of passing on my madness). It was the happiest time of my life. And then the Drug came in. Call it my penance, my learning curve, my pre-paid purgatory or damnation, it really doesn’t matter. It all amounted to the same. My life took a marked detour, and I began learning… something else.
There came a time, amidst the hell, when, faced with utter failure, I decided it was now the time to go to California. I’d written a poem just a short while before when I’d thought that both my “brothers” were leaving to different parts of the world beyond. One to Central Washington, and the other to California. One went, one did not. I got to Central, with all that I could carry, and planned to hitchhike down to Cali. But I was struck down with a fevered illness, and forced to return, to face the ruins of what I’d tried to leave behind. And events played out. And the fairy-tale gone horribly awry ended.
I took a few preparatory steps toward my new life, but was still held back by chains of pain I’d tried to leave behind. New loves came and went, people that I loved passed away. And then I got a phone call from the other brother. He was finally moving down to California, and thought I should come along. Whether he was uncertain of this new life, and wanted some token of “home”, or guided by my fates is unimportant. I finally came to Cali.
I met a girl, under certain circumstances, some familiar (at work), some new (residential status), and tried to get my life back to the family ideal. I’d like to think that we were in love, but it’s easier to think she was just using me for something I was born with. She got pregnant. I lost my son. Events played out that I had seen during the darker days. My world collapsed and I reverted.
I began again, following the friend asylum pattern, established after the nightmare. Got a job at the same company (more or less) as before, and fell in love again, and again, and once more, and then a few more times for good measure. Nothing worked out how I’d planned it, and it felt like High School once again. It’s like my life was rewinding, queuing up events to the moment where they’d once diverged.
I met someone who was madly in love with me. We didn’t even speak the same language (I had been prepared for this by a month-long practice course at the beginning of my job). It was like my life was mixing and matching people and events to hurriedly reposition me. Within 9 months of starting my new job, I was back to the position I had held at the last. Hmm… okay that part is a new revelation.
Then, 2 months shy of 9 years from the DAY, I began dating her. We dated for a while, and then, due to a rather bizarre set of events leaving me without a home, we began cohabitating. All the while I was fighting it. And then she became pregnant. I was still devastated at the loss of my son the year before, and did all I could to hold back destiny. But one should never underestimate the curmudgeonocity of God. The child was born two days shy of 10 years from the DAY.
I am now where I left off 9 long years ago. I have completed the journey I’d known that I must undertake since I was 15 years old. I have a wife, a son. And my life is hiccoughing out the last of the repetitions. I suppose it will be down to: A) Dealing with my BPD to avoid destroying everything positive I have built, and/or B) Beginning to write the story that I was, apparently put through Hell to as preparation for. Like the Divine Comedy only not nearly as rad.
And you want to know something? None of this really matters any more. When he grabs my finger and squeezes, smiles at me with all hisface, and speaks to me in his unique mixture of language and monkey-grunts, I am lost within the moment, living in the present, and realize that, as far my day-to-day OCD goes, there’s never been anything else so perfect.
Okay, prepare the nerd glasses, it’s time to talk about the magic of DC Comics. While Marvel seems to be content in taking brilliant characters and turning them into shitty movies, DC has taken it to a whole new level.
I was warned by [Bad Leon Suave] that this animated feature was bad. I was warned that it was a painfully bad, bad attempt at trying to cash in on the Death Of Superman for a new generation.
I’m not going to repeat his gripes here. Let him do that in his own blogs.
My issue with this travesty is that they combined the Death Of Superman, World Without A Superman, and the Reign Of The Supermen story arcs into a feature length presentation. This in itself is retarded. So much nuance was lost. But even if it had been just that, I might have been okay. But I don’t remember Luthor digging up Doomsday. Or Luthor for that matter. It was his “son.” I seem to recall an organization called the JLA. And a somewhat longer journey to metropolis. Does anyone else remember Supes taking Doomsday into orbit for the final blow? No? That’s cause it didn’t fucking happen.
I also seem to recall Jonathon Kent being alive to witness the death of his adopted son. And WTF with the Reign B.S.?
Yes there was a clone. He was a teenager cloned into a human equivalent of Superman because they couldn’t properly decode the Kryptonian DNA. The was also the Last Son Of Krypton who was actually the Eradicator. There was a cyborg Superman as well. Not to mention some dude who wore metal superman armor and had a big ass-hammer (for [Fed]). And didn’t (what was it, Coast City) get fuckin nuked because the Cyborg was working for Mongul? And that’s when Supes came back. Blah blah saved the day, everything good.
Not this bullshit.
God knows what will happen if they remember Knightfall.
Fuck this shit! They’re cut off.
Yet another reason I need to get off my ass and found Uncle Walt/ Tex Batmart / whatever else sounds good so I can buy Aol/Time Warner and protect our comic book heroes from this bullshit.
My mother and aunt came to visit shortly after my son was born in 2007. I knew that I would be unable to get out of work to meet them, so I had to send instructions on how to get to me. Of course, now that we’re in 2015, this is a little outdated, as the AirBART has been replaced, and the prices have increased. All commentary remains valid, however.
If you are not where I say you are, then you have FUBAR’d the situation and are on your own.
July 2nd, 2007
There are AirBART stops outside of both Terminal One and Two. It costs $3.00/person. Exact Change! (What did he mean, ‘Exact Change?’) Take it to the One Place It Goes (unless you get on at Terminal One, at which point, take it to the Other Place It Goes- The Oakland Coliseum/ Oakland Airport Station).
When you get there, disembark the AirBART (which is, in case you do not remember, actually a bus), and thank the driver. They love this. Especially if you decide to personalize your gratitude in epic poetry. With everyone else behind you waiting to get off. Seriously.
Enter the Bart Station and approach a vending machine. Place $4.20 in the machine and select the option on the right side of the screen indicating that you wish to purchase multiple tickets. Which you do. You want two (2) $2.10 tickets. I would say that you could simply purchase them separately, but you don’t want to anger people by appearing that you don’t know what you are doing, and taking forever while not doing it. Remember: This is Oakland. And you both are VERY WHITE.
Once you each have your properly priced fare ($2.10) ticket, approach the entrance gates. They look like turnstiles without anything that turns (and, to be honest, not so much with the style). Place your ticket in the slot at the front of the gate (before doing this, please make sure that there is a green arrow signifying that it is being used for entrance and not exit. Again, the WHITE/OUT OF TOWNER THING. The mechanism in the gate will appear to eat your ticket. Do not be alarmed. It will appear momentarily at on the top of the gate. Take it from its new resting place, move through the gate, and off to the side, out of the flow of foot traffic, and put it somewhere safe where you will remember it (A word of caution- you may want to keep it away from anything magnetized, and that black strip along the side may be affected).
Now you may choose to take an escalator or stairs. It really doesn’t matter which you choose. Neither is correct. But if you take the escalator, please keep your luggage in front of you, and ensure that it does not exceed the width of your body. Be aware of which side of the escalator is the passing lane. Please do not aggravate the hoodlums (You may want to lean mostly over the railing to allow those in an extreme hurry to pass you without the indignity of social nicety).
Now you are on the elevated platform. Hooray! There are screens on both sides of the platform that announce which trains are arriving, and when, along with mindless drivel that no one actually pays attention to, except to comment, “I don’t care! When’s my (expletive deleted) train (expletive deleted) coming. (expletive deleted)!” You are looking for the Richmond Line. No, you are not actually going to Richmond, despite what the woman might try to tell you later this week. Richmond is evil. We do not go to Richmond. But there is time for horror stories later. Right now we need to get you to Berkeley.
Okay. Have you identified which side of the platform your train will be loading from? No? Keep looking. Let me know when you find it…
Welcome to the third chapter in this sprawling saga. When we last parted, I had officially discovered that I was going to be a father, and decided to cope with it the best way that I knew how: Poetry. Now we’ll fast forward a couple of months, and welcome in 2007, wherein the fetus has a name for either gender, and I get a little philosophical:
General Mayhem and Confusion
January 23rd, 2007
Sorry it’s been so long since the last installment in the continuing adventures of The Batmart. This one isn’t going to be fantastic… Just need to start getting myself in the habit of writing again. It’s been too long… I think it’s getting to be time to put down some things… you know… for posterity.
I’ll be 30 in less than three years, assuming I don’t bite it before December. I don’t think I’m prepared to cope with that. Maybe even less than I was able to cope with 25.
I need to make time to start writing again. That’s my only hope out of where I’m at now. I have no other skills, save maybe photography. I gambled everything years ago on that talent, and as the years go by, I see I may have been shortsighted in my approach. Not about my gift, but rather about the time it would take to come to fruition, and about how long I’d have to stick around (not entirely the same point), and all of the other things that have popped up along the way. It never mattered to me that I was fucking myself over financially, putting myself in ill social standing, or at odds with the law. I was supposed to be dead by now. And the Bi-Polar Bears haven’t helped. It’s not that I see things in Black and White, but rather all of the extreme shades in between.
Now I have the feeling like I’ll be around for fucking ever, and like my great grandfather, outlive my savings and my ability to contribute anything to anybody. Of course, he had to live into his golden years, whereas the previous statement is self-applicable even today, aside from the “for fucking ever” part, obviously.
Now that I’m arriving at a point in my life where my word would be a useful thing to have in the financial world, I find I’ve no ability to use it- they all took their chances years ago, and even when I tried my best amidst my second chance, I still managed to fuck it all up again.
And so my only hope is to do what I do best- do what I was born for, stop sitting on my ass, and molding away in job for which I am ill-suited. And even then, might I not become like so many of greats- impoverished until my poor health and chronic misery consume me, only to have my redemption come years after my passing, when all the world might shudder at loss of one they would have never known, but for the volumes of sad and lonely photographs and stories, songs and poetry discovered by someone cleaning out wherever I had lain them.
And I wonder, would David William or Jennivee Isabel even care?
Or would they think of me forever as the failure that condemned them?
I forgot just how cheery a gentleman I used to be. The reason I included the whole post was to show that I’ve been saying I needed to be writing for almost half the time that I have actually wanted to be a writer. Also, how sad is it that I haven’t uploaded any new photographs in years? And now that I’ve got so much backlog, I don’t know that I’ll ever get it done. Suddenly, the amount of things I should be doing with my days of leisure are drastically increasing.
Out Here We Is Stoned… Immaculate
January 27th, 2007
…I’m feeling pretty good right now. I still can’t feel the demon monkey dancing, but maybe my hands are trying to keep me from freaking the hell out.
My mom is coming down at the end of February. And again when the demon monkey arrives. ***THOSE OF YOU WHO KNOW OF THE DEMON MONKEY AND WHAT IT IS, PLEASE DO NOT COMMENT UPON IT IN THIS FORUM AS THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO READ THIS, THAT, FOR NECESSARY REASONS, CANNOT KNOW YET***
“I’ll always be a Word Man. Better than a Bird Man.” [-Jim Morrison]
Biiiiiiiiiird! Maaaaaaaaaan!………… [-Birdman]
Oh, having to keep the knowledge of my love child a secret from the world (or at least, my co-workers at McDonald’s). It took the longest time for me to actually feel my son moving around inside of my girlfriend. When I finally did, I can’t say that it made things better. There are certain things that Sea Monkeys should never be able to do. Just saying.
Greeting Card I’d Like To See
February 2nd, 2007
Roses are Red Violets are Blue I knocked up your daughter…
That’s it. I’m really sorry.
By February, it appears that my usual sense of humor had returned. I had been trying to figure out what I would say if I ever met my girlfriend’s father (who totally looks like a Mexican Sean Connery!).
The refund from dispute went to card #5973,
March 2nd, 2007
…It reminded me of a walk Dave and I took one night stumbling drunkenly back in Emeryville after leaving [Fuddrucker’s].
Although, to be fair, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen blood gushing like that. It took months for the drops to wash out of the sidewalk.
I’m not going to give any other context.
Shut The Hell Up
March 27th, 2007
Like some of my other friends, I have been re-reading the Harry Potter series in anticipation of the release of the final book. I am on the 5th, now, at the part when Harry receives the “badly wrapped package roughly the size of a paperback book” from Sirius.
Shortly before 9/11 I left my hometown and moved into the city (not the city proper, mind you, but still…). Every time I spoke to my mother or grandmother, they told me to make sure I called my great grandmother. And on the rare occasions I would come over for a visit, would, they would ask if I had gone to see her. I did. A couple times. Here’s the thing: She was born in 1912. By the time I was born, she was already a senior citizen. But I never really saw her like that. She always had so much energy, so much life, that we all sort of seemed to take her existence for granted. Or at least I did. But by the time I had moved away, her age had begun to creep up upon her, or rather, overtake her exponentially for all those timeless years. She had begun to look and act old. Maybe it was due to my youth, even as obsessed with death as it had been, but I became unable to be near her. Here I was, caught up firmly in the prime of my youth, and there she was, quickly fading into twilight. It offended my very nature to be near her- not for lack of love, no, she was someone I will always hold most dear, but something physical, as if my body was unable to face its own demise by fading- and so I did my best to avoid her, never really believing she’d be gone. And so it was that in the summer of ’02, she finally sickened beyond cure and passed away. The day it happed, I was off [redacted, because this is a family blog] Every year as far back as I could remember, we had had a family Fish Fry. All the cousins in the area getting together and eating and drinking an generally being a kind-of redneck-close-knit family. That year it was a wake. Most of my Gram’s kids had quit smoking, but the smell from my own, enticed them to come over, and breathe in the 2nd hand comfort.
I remember at the funeral, looking at her face. It was the exact same except for the utter lack of resemblance to her at all.
And even knowing all of this, how much I wish I could have taken the time to just stop by and say hello- what tears me up inside is that I still don’t know of what we might have spoken.
Once in a while, the loss of my great-grandmother still hits me like the day I lost her, and I am reduced to blubbering while my wife and son look on in concern. I touched on this is the days leading up to my trip to Washington in December, but I’d forgotten a few things that I had remembered when the event was still closer to me.
Welcome to the Batmart (we’ve got fun and games)
April 7th, 2007
It’s funny how “content” sneaks up on you. Not, complacent- content. Like knowing you’re doing the right thing, even though it makes absolutely no sense at the time.
I wasn’t quite happy yet, but a feeling of serenity had descended upon me, like succumbing to the inevitable. I was still about two and a half months out from fatherhood, and it looks like I was handling it with a modicum of grace.
A turning point
June 22nd, 2007
So that moment has arrived once again where the feast has been laid before me and I must but choose a course upon which to dine. Each with its own flavor and temptation, and yet some, [much] easier to digest when I was younger and less ulcer-ridden. That’s not actually a sentence. At least not a good one. I hate double entendres.
I am faced with a career in hospitality, which, for those of you who know me and must realize, as do I, is not compatible with my curmudgeoncy. I have more responsibilities arriving soon, though, to his credit, he seems reluctant to join my company. And I know in my heart that my dreams are reaching out to me in some kind of death grasp, shouting “…Now or never!” Or maybe it’s just Dave. More now than ever, I am confident in my ability, but as equally unsure as to how I will display it. No one …reads poetry anymore. Did they ever? I mean, by choice? I have a book within me that I know that I must write, if I am to ever write anything original again, and yet I know to write it I must throw myself into the past and relive the [things] I barely made it through the first time. And to do this I have to take the time to… I don’t know…
How am I supposed to throw away a career I hate which right now is paying ALL the bills, and gives me health insurance, to launch myself, sink or swim onto a path which all odds tell me I cannot follow to the Happily Ever After? I can’t f*** up anymore. I passed by my chance for one last Do-Over, and now it’s forever. The cost of following my passions is also a monetary concern, beyond the bills. I need a camera. Time. I need time. A pause button. All of this… makes me miss the days when [redacted because this is a family blog] was my daily goal, when I could just allow my depression to consume me and treat with disregard the machinations of my life.
Wow, have I really been that broken of a record? It’s kind of sad that it took me seven and a half years to do anything about it. As you can all see, that was dated five days before the birth of my son. I wonder what happens next?
She’s Having Contractions
June 27th, 2007
She’s having contractions. More News as available.
The Monkey Has Arrived
June 29th, 2007
He was born Wednesday night at 8:10, weighing in at 11lbs, 14oz, 22 inches.
I’ll have pictures later.
For now, I must sleep.
I wasn’t being overly dramatic: I hadn’t actually gotten more than a few hours of sleep since the morning of the 27th, and I was running on fumes. Flor wasn’t really doing that much better. So we have gone through the (hidden) courtship of my wife, and her subsequent pregnancy, and come out the other side. Thank you for joining me on this journey. I’ll end us now on a message to myself from November, 2006:
The End Of Days
November 13, 2006
As the sun goes down upon one moment in my life, the cold winter begins within the next. The leaves are falling from the tree of my youth, and things are growing in the darkness which I have long feared would come. “She’s a in John Hurt way.”
As a little #throwbackthursday treat for everyone, I’ve got a bonus Blast From The Past to get you ready for the sentimental stuff coming up this evening. With no further ado, I present the following Epic Rant to you in its original glory. The language is a little salty, so if you’re offended by that sort of thing, I invite you to read something else.
I hate Comcast
May 5th, 2007
Comcastic is a dirty word.
I thought I had difficulty finding quality employees in my line of work.Turns out I having a harder time finding a single quality employee of the monopolistic cable provider. Such bullshit!
Here’s the deal: I ordered MLB Extra Innings on the 25th of April. The 25th! As you may be able to discern from the date, this story will not end well. I also ordered an upgrade to a DVR receiver so that I can actually watch the games I am paying $160 for. Somehow, I mananged to get MLS! Who the fuck wants to watch American fucking soccer? If I really have a craving to watch the futbol, I will watch it on a spanish language station, where, even though I don’t yet understand the entitre commentary, am still able to feel like the commentators A) give a shit about the sport (GOLGOLGOLGOLGOLGOLGOLGOLGOLGOLGOLGOLGOLGOLGOLG) and 2) know what they are talking about (although I could be wrong, they do say Gol like 500 times after anyone scores).
Still with me? Ordered Baseball. Part way into the season. Anyone offer any kind of pro-rated discount for El Mateo? Fuck no! What did I get? Fucking Soccer! I called and explained the situation monosyllabically to the “Customer Care Executive”, and was told that I would not be charged for the soccer, but because I had a work order for the fucking boxes (I also ordered a dvr receiver for the bedroom (no, I don’t know why, either!)), I couldn’t get Extra Innings until after the installation tech had arrived.
Fast forward to Thursday, May 3rd, sometime between 8am and midnight. Tech arrives and tells me that he only has 1 box! How fucking hard is it to count? I mean, if we were dealing with more complex math, such as, oh, multiplication or division, I might be more forgiving. But it was addition. All that was required was the ability to fucking count to 2. Two! One. Two. How fucking hard is that? And then I had to fucking install the box myself, because the douchebag decided that he would try to call around to see if he could scavenge me another one. Due to the fact that I have made a fairly vitriolic paragraph concerning this, I have full confidence that you can fucking figure out the conclusion to this visit.
So dude left. Fine. Whatever. I called Comcast again. I want my MLB now, please. Okay? Everything’s okay? Yes? It’s gone through? Cool. Just wait a few minutes for the authorization do register in the boxes? Okay. Oh, by the way, I noticed that you’re raping us monthly now, so I think I’ll pick up Triple Play Platinum (we ordered Digital Platinum when we first got service. They gave us the Latino Completo package! What the fuck? It’s like having short bus cable with all SAP at no additional charge (for an additional fucking charge!). Okay? Okay. Telephone guy will be here on Monday? Cool. When will we have our new channels (which we should have had in the fucking first place) and Extra Innings? A few minutes? Okay, thanks.
An hour later, with no more channels than I’d had before, I called again, was on hold for a total of 25 minutes, transfered to 3 different people, was offered 4 completely insincere apologies, and told the phone that they would be installing would be comped for all the trouble. And when will I have access to the fucking channels I have ordered? Within the hour. Sometimes there are delays, so at the latest, tomorrow morning. Fine. Whatever. Fuck it. No more baseball. Have to get up early. Bullshit!
I get home from work yesterday at 6pm. Can you guess what service package I had access to when I got home?
I knew you could.
I tried calling comcast 6 times, each time on hold for a minimum of 15 minutes. I went to the online chat support. Talked to this fucking “Hey Guys! Wait for me!” asshole. Said he would reset the signal and all would be good again in the land of angry Scotsman. I was booted from the chat when the reset happened, and amazingly enough, that was the most productive result of that conversation. I tried Comcast by phone again 2 more times, waiting for only 10 minutes per call this time. Finally I got back into the chat support room again. Oops, I’m here for your internet support, let me transfer you. So then I talk to another guy, explain the whole fucking thing. He says the reason I (STILL!) don’t have MLB is- get this- because I have a work order for MONDAY! I tell him fuck all that. Give me my channels, I can deal without a home phone for awhile longer. He says he will transfer me to Phone services and explain the whole problem to new guy before he logs out of the room. So I wait, and a new tech enters the conversation.
I explain briefly to him what I have been going through. Would you care to know what he told me? I think you know where this is going…. I’m sorry. YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE IN CABLE SUPPORT. But wait! I try to type in time, my fingers curling into fists as I am gorilla pounding the keyboard in frustration. And then I get another tech. So I fucking rip into this guy. I’m pissed. At this point, I have spent over 3 hours trying to deal with this bullshit, and now will get around 6 hours of sleep before I have to go to work.
Turns out this new guy is actually the one who transferred me to Phone services, but I still rip into him. He lets me vent, which amazes and calms me, and explains that somehow Comcast has clusterfucked the whole thing. If I want MLB and my subscription upgrade, I will have to cancel the monday work order and reschedule. Fine. Will I have all my channels after that? Tonight?
Yes he says. Fine. Cancel. Good. Dandy. Just fucking do it. And don’t fucking transfer me. Just take care of it. So he goes to fucking investigate how to go about unclustering the FUCK, and tells me: He can’t cancel/reschedule the work order, I have to call the local phone support line. Sorry.
He gives me the number and I am fairly sure that there is actually nothing more he can do. So I let him go.
I open my phone. I dial the number. Put the phone to my ear. Enter the 10 digit number (including area code) where I have, or would like to have service. I press 1 for english. I press 1 for problem with my service. I press one for Cable. I listen to some bullshit recorded message that has absolutely nothing to do with me, and so do not push 5. I hear shitty recorded Muzak. I am told that comcast is constantly seeking to improve its service and am offered a chance to particpate in a brief survey following my coversation. I decline, and do not press 1. I wait for 10 more minutes.
I call again, diverging from my previous path only in that I press three for home telephone service. I still hear the recorded message, Muzak, and survey offer. I hang up after another 10 minutes.
I now have less than 5 hours to sleep. I still do not have MLB. I still do not have the premium package I have ordered. I DO still have access to MLS, although there are no games.
Here’s what I don’t get: I’ve had service since September (or October). I have a credit card ON FILE. I make auto payments with it. I WANT TO GIVE THEM MY MONEY IN EXCHANGE FOR THEM FLIPPING A FUCKING SWITCH OR PRESSING A FUCKING BUTTON (OR LESS LIKELY, THOUGH I’M SURE STILL POSSIBLE, PULLING A LEVER), AND LETTING THE FLOW OF SHIT I WANT TO WATCH COME BARRELING TOWARD ME!
And the worst part part about all of this is that AT&T is worse!