Saturday, May 31, 2008

Last Entry Of The Day

At dinner, waiting for a table, sitting on a bench outside. Two young women ask if they can join me.  They are wearing collars.  Connected to each other by a chain.  California.  I love this place.

Crash Cart!


So, the day started good. I got a good night sleep.  I woke up, ran through the shower, make a pot of coffee, fired up the stereo, listened to a couple of CD's, chatted with friends online, took a couple of work phone calls, took a couple of personal phone calls, then went to breakfast with a friend.


I made the mistake of having breakfast with a friend who is going through a stressful time.  We got to talking.  My stressful time and his started this feedback loop.  We both vented, which is a good thing, but we also both fed each others stress beasties.

So, I had to come home and restart the day.  Almost the same way I started it earlier - music, coffee, chatting with friends.  It took about two hours to pull it back under control.  In the interim the sun came out, so it is crisp but blue outside and in moments I am going to head back out and pick back up where I left off. 

Going to get the car washed, then pop up to the Triton Art Museum in Santa Clara.  Walk the grounds, see some of the exhibits, savor the eternal and enjoy a bit of that California sun.  Then, probably circle home for a while - and after that maybe dinner and a movie.*  But, I will be careful about who I have dinner with.

Hahahaha - my friend meant no harm.  He is on his journey, I am on mine - we just happened to bump into each other and create that pretty wicked feedback loop.  Weird how that happens.

*Never happened.  I got dressed, walked out and checked the mail. Brought the mail back into the apartment, was sorting it and contemplating just how many times I had used the word "exhausted" in conversation with people today.  So, I took a quick swim, came back inside, curled up with "Odd Hours", read for a while and then fell asleep.  I slept for about three hours.  I am up again and contemplating dinner, but tonight - I am just going to stay home, maybe watch a movie on DVD, maybe read some more, maybe just sleep some more.
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The Place Where The Bright Lights End

The Place Where The Bright Lights End

I came home from the day
Just kind of battered and bruised
Life doesn't have to be this way
But sometimes it just is...

I drink a fresh cup of coffee
I pull on my old blue jeans
Button up my favorite shirt
I need to find a little bliss...

I go down to the old cafe
A bite of dinner with friends
I walk down the city street
To the place when the bright lights end...

I slip through that old door
Find my way to the bar
Order a bottle of beer
And wait for the night to send...

Send me a voice that cries to be heard
Send me a sound that touches me
Send me a good guitar
Send me a song that needs to be...

The bottle is cold on my finger tips
The taste is so sweet on my lips
I can feel the furrows falling away
Then I hear fingers on the strings...

I close my eyes and I find my self
I guess I was always waiting there
I breathe in the cold night air
And let go of the useless things...

Half of my life has gone by
Another half lays somewhere ahead
Now I have known some better days
But I have known other days as well...

The times that I trembled and wept
The times that I shook with rage
The times that I was lost and found
Somewhere within this heavenly hell...

Send me a voice that cries to be heard
Send me a sound that touches me
Send me a good guitar
Send me a song that needs to be...

Send me a voice that cries to be heard
Send me a sound that touches me
Send me a good guitar
Send me a song that needs to be...

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

25 Most Infamous Guitar Riffs

Just happened to be looking at Yahoo and saw it..and consider...if you agree.

I do.

After The Fetal Position

So, after I recovered from lying on the floor in the darkness in the fetal position, I climbed into bed and took a nap.  After the nap, a shower, dinner, and relaxation.  Ever have one of those days where the best you can do at the end of the day is curl up in the fetal position on the floor?  Uh, me neither. 

Well, okay, sometimes.  All of the above is true - except for the fetal position part.  It was one of those days where every action seems to be a rather pointless struggle and at the end of the day all I could do was take a nap, hit the reboot button, and hope to salvage something from the evening.  Fortunately, it worked.

So, refueled with sleep, shower and dinner I settled in and watched a movie with the nephew (the second half of the TV special- the Scott Free remake of Andromeda Strain).  Now, I am sitting here in the living room with the patio doors open, watching the sky turn to a darker shade of blue, feeling the cool breeze blowing through.

One of the interesting things about us, as people, I think is our ability to recover, to recuperate, to bounce back and start again. Tomorrow will be another challenging day at work but I am braced and ready for the challenge. 

I've got assorted thoughts swirling around, so rather then write about them extensively, I think I will just lay the bare bones of them out.

-When in times of trouble or turmoil the best compass we possess is that still small voice that resides inside of us.  We can lose it sometimes in the signal to noise ratio of modern life, but if we stop, if we find a place of stillness and listen, it is still there.

-Perspective gets us through so many things.  I am in a high stress work cycle right now, exhausting and brutal, but nothing...absolutely comparison to what other people I know are going through right now and so minor compared to other stressful times I have been through.

-It helps to count your blessings.  Literally.  Sit down and write them out - all of the good things you have, whatever they are.  All of the things that bring you happiness, all of the things that bring you meaning.  You will find, inevitably, that the list of good things far outnumbers the list of bad things.  The bad things might seem more significant, but they aren't. It just seems that way.

So, the still small voice inside of me is telling me to keep my perspective and count my blessings, which I did over dinner with a friend of mine and you know what?  At the end of an exhausting day, where it seemed the flying monkeys were winning, after a nap and a shower and dinner with a friend - life is pretty damn good.

I highly recommend that simple act - a nice dinner with a good friend, someone who doesn't want anything from you, someone who doesn't expect anything from you, someone who is just...your friend. 

Something's getting in the way.
Something's just about to break.
I will try to find my place in the diary of Jane.
As I burn another page,
As I look the other way.
I still try to find my place in the diary of Jane.
So tell me how it should be.

Desperate, I will crawl
Waiting for so long
No love, there is no love.
Die for anyone
What have I become?

"The Diary Of Jane" - Breaking Benjamin


The Dream of the Flying Chair

I can add another weird dream to the mix.  Last night, I dream it was late at night, I was in my bedroom, and for some reason I went to the window to look outside.  I did it just in time to see someone I knew (the sense of knowing them) flying by in a big, old fashioned, wooden chair, almost throne like.  I did not get a clear look at who it was.  They seemed to be very happy as they were flying around the dream world on their chair. 

Of to work now, wishing I had a flying chair to save on gas money and avoid the commute.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Dream of the Whirlwind

I had a strange dream last night - I dreamt of a whirlwind.  I had fallen asleep and about three AM woke up from the dream.  I dreamt that I was someplace very green, a place of lush vegetation, deep in the trees.  There were many people there and they were all talking at once in the center of a huge whirlwind that was spinning around them, gusting through the trees.  They did not seem concerned about the whirlwind even as it spun them around in and out of the trees.  Snippets of conversation were carried about on the wind and flowed over me, around me, and through me.  I do not remember any specific conversational subject, though I knew there were conversations that I was interested in and people that I was interested in hearing.

I strained to hear those that interested me, but only portions of their conversations swept by me.  There was no sense of unease, no sense of anxiety.  It was as if being inside of the whirlwind and having a conversation with may people in the midst of a lush green forest was a very natural thing.  Within the whirlwind I sensed a certain glee, a certain gladness. 

I did wake with the feeling that there was a conversation that I was not quite conscious of, but that it was a good conversation.  All it all, it was an unusual dream.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Secret Language Of Crows

The Language Of Crows

Have you ever wondered if the mood you are in is your's?  Or if you are catching the cross-currents from someone elses journey? 

I woke up this morning bright and clean.  I had nothing that had to be done, so I took a leisurely pace into the morning. I went out and took a quick walk around the neighborhood, made some oatmeal, made a pot of coffee, turned the stereo on (I've been in a classical binge all day, mostly Mozart), and settled in to read e-mail and chat.

That occupied most of the morning  - at times I was engaged in chat, at times I was a spectator, at times I was both.  The morning slowly unfolded cold and gray, one small piece at a time.  I drank coffee.  I thought, I laughed, I joked, I teased, I encouraged, I nutured thoughts and I surpressed thoughts.

And I felt the currents of the world flowing over me like a giant river.  There were parts that were bright and clear and cold.  There were parts that were deep and still and hinted at hidden lights somewhere in the darkness.  In its own voice the river told stories - some clear, some not, some shouted, some echoed.  There were rapids.  There were backwaters.  There were currents and cross currents and I felt them all swirling around me.

It was exhausting. After enough coffee that I was twitching, I rose up and started for the shower. I never made it to the shower.  I made is as far as the bed, where I stripped down and climbed back under the covers for an hour and napped.  It was a good nap - I closed my eyes and I fell asleep for an hour or so.  Then, I woke up and took a shower and essentially started the day all over.

Except it is a different day.  The sun is shining.  I have a few errands to run.  Mozart has run his course.  I am...brighter. On a personal level I have been working to be more aware of myself and my environment in a particular moment or set of moments.  I am not sure if that is altering my moods, or making more aware of them. 

One of the things I have certainly become aware of is one of the things that rippled through me today - I seem to catch other peoples moods, seem to be more susceptible to them, almost on a visceral level.  That has been an interesting ride - and this morning - with its wide variety of ripples, has been an interesting day on that ride.

I am trying to tease some sort of meaning out of it.  At the surface of course is our wonderful human ability to connect to other people - to be empathic - to feel them, their hopes, their joys, their sorrows, their stories. 

For me the act of writing is the act of deliberately placing myself into an empathic state.  I start with a character or characters and the barest bones of a notion - a journey, an end point, a transitional moment, a brilliant vignette.  The character may be entirely fictional or the character may be a real person or the character (most common of all) is a fictional person with the traits of a real person or real people.

What inspires a tale can be something very simple - a word, a phrase, a half-told tale.  The hint at something that the imagination and the muse seizes.  Whether you are aware of it or not you are all muses to me and to other people.  You inspire us in the stories we tell, whether we tell them as fiction or as poetry or as music or as art or as essay.

The things you do ripple.  Today they rippled through my morning.  They are still rippling through me and I will carry them through the day and some into the next day and some into the day after that and on and on and on. I often wish I could follow you through your days, like a crow, with sharp eyes, at the edge of your world, watching. I wish I could see more of the tale.  Gather them up. Fly them back to my nest.  Then take pen in hand and write the stories on parchment in the secret langauge of crows, a language of ripples and currents.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Echoes of the Boneshakers

Let me get the bad part of the weekend out of the way quickly.  It was gray, cold, and spit rain off and on. I doubt the temperature ever got above sixty and there was an almost continuous biting wind.  Not enough to ruin the weekend, but enough to make it uncomfortable.

Okay, lets go to the good part.  Saturdays lineup was Bonnie Raitt, Legends of the Blues (featuring Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Smith, and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith with the Mike Schermer Allstar), Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, and JJ Grey and Mofro.   Because I was running late, I saw Legends and Bonnie Raitt.

Sundays line up was Al Green, the Subdudes, and the Boneshakers (Randy Jacobs, Sweetpea Atkins, Malford Milligan, Stephen Bruton & the Texicali Horns), and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave.

My favorite was the Boneshakers.  I am sorry I missed Jimmy Thackery - Jimmy is an incredible guitarist, a future legend himself.  Here are a pair of links...

The Boneshakers at JWMF...

Jimmy Thackery...

It was a very good weekend, all in all. By Sunday afternoon the weather had opened enough that there was some sunshine - not a classic California spring day, but enough of an experience of the sun to remind you that you were in California.

Late Sunday afternoon we made the decision to go get dinner rather than watch Al Green - get an early jump out so we could skip the traffic getting back into San Jose.  We ate at Riva's on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  Riva's is a nice little place.  I had the Texas Tilapia - which was - flavorful.

Translate that as so spicy that I only ate about half of it before I realized I was loading my stomach with a potential lethal mix of spice and seafood.  I'll write some more about the weekend once I've let it percolate for a while.

It was nice to just get out for a pair of days and indulge in my favorite minor motel fetish and spend time with some friends I haven't spent a lot of time with.  One of the strange curves was the original group of friends I had planned on going with gradually bailed out for a variety of reasons.  On Saturday, I got texted by some other friends that I had not seen in a while, but who knew I had planned to go to the festival and wanted to try and get together.  That turned it into an excellent weekend - around the festival we spent a lot of time eating, drinking, laughing, dancing, and talking into the wee hours and catching up.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Nearly Perfect Day Of Doing Nothing

I did something rare for me today.  I slept late.  I woke up at about eight AM, rolled over, went back to sleep and woke up about ten AM.  I am, by nature, a morning person.  I usually wake an hour or two before sunrise, naturally, comfortably, clearly.  I roll out of bed and start that morning pot of coffee and move into the day.

But today I slept late.  I need it.  The work cycle and work stress have both been running high.  This four day weekend has been the first extended time off I have had in quite a while.  Consequently, today, I did next to nothing.

I woke up.  I ran through the shower.  I started the stereo.  I cooked breakfast.  I danced around the living room while the bacon sizzled.  I ate breakfast and channel surfed TV.  I read a little.  I came online and surfed the net.  I chatted in Spiritual Insights.  I pretty much repeated small variations of that pattern through the day. 

In the evening, I went out and got dinner with my nephew Tom and my friend Tony, at Holdens on Saratoga.  I stopped at the grocery store and picked up some snacks.  I wandered home. My nephew is watching Eddie Izzard on HBO.  The apartment is filled with the sounds of children playing in the courtyard.  The sun is falling toward the horizon. 

I have no plans for the evening.  I will be still.  I will chat.  I will surf the web.  I may write.  I may play my guitar.  I may call a friend.  I may watch a movie.  I may read.  At some point, I will sleep.

In short is a nearly perfect day of doing next to nothing.  I love it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Mother of Silk

The Mother Of Silk


Lacking references instinct routinely betrays us underground. Mason moves quietly through the long corridor counting doorways and branching hallways.  He is deep within the basements and sub-basements of Chinatown.  Instinct tells him he is somewhere beneath the Grand Hotel.  The fourteenth door is painted a vivid robin's egg blue.  He stops and raps on the door with his knuckles, swift and sharp.


He hears silence followed by a scratch, a scrap, a clank, and a whoosh in short order. A stocky man in a hairnet opens the door from behind, one foot braced against the steel frame, the muscles in his arm corded and taut as he overcomes the seal of air.


Mason glances at the characters in Mandarin that scroll down the inside of the frame.  "Room 14, Bolts of Silk, Discrete".  The stocky man vanishes down one of the long aisles of steel framing.  This far under Chinatown you are where you are supposed to be.


Mason moves through the shelves grazing his fingertips across the cool steel as he passes, counting.  Eleven rows in Mason takes a turn to the right and slips into the near darkness.  He dons a pair of clean, fine, white gloves.  He takes a small bright light from his pocket.  The click is loud in the silence as he turns it on.


The bolts of silk are carefully laid out in neat rows, resting on ivory parchment paper.  A label neatly printed in Mandarin tells the story of each bolt.  He carefully inspects the silk and reads each story.  He does not know what he is looking for, but he searches for it.  Time fades into the meticulous seduction of silk.


She is almost upon him before he senses her.  It is the faint smell of the almond cookies and green tea that catches him.  He turns to her.  She holds the lacquered tray carefully, in both neatly manicured hands, and smiles as he turns. 


Her brown hair is cut short and neat, she wears no makeup, her face tanned and lined with the comfort of her age.  Her eyes are brown and crow dark.  She smiles with the left corner of her mouth and when she says "Mason" there is a slight descending disapproval in her tone.  Mason smiles reservedly.


She is the Mother of Silk.  It is her daughters Mason has come to inspect. None will leave without her permission.  From behind her the stocky man appears carrying two small chairs and a round table.  He sets them in place and she places the tray on the table and sits.  She gestures to the other chair.  Mason sits.


Mason never keeps notes.  To write down the story of each bolt would be a violation.  Each story belongs to each bolt and until Mason has taken possession of the bolt, the story remains the possession of the silk.


Mason and the Mother of Silk dance in Mandarin, in English, and in Portuguese. It is a weaving dance that rises and falls in each language, swirling and soft. Mason knows the bolt he desires, but he moves his way toward it softly, tenderly, passing others along the way, pausing to revel in their beauty, to comment on their graces, to compliment their weave.  The Mother of Silk knows the bolt that Mason desires and tantalizes him with it.  She passes by it, she contrasts it, demurs from it.


Cookies and tea are consumed until finally, in a whisper smooth moment the bolt is consummated, a lover, seduced and embraced.  No money changes hands.  No price is discussed.  The Mother of Silk presents, Mason accepts. They are far from the cruel worlds of commerce here, deep beneath the earth, at the foundations of the vault of heaven.  The Mother of Silk passes her daughter to her fervent suitor.


Mason rises as the Mother of Silk rises, his outstretched hand guides her up by the fingertips, grazing her arm, just above her elbow, just below the short sleeve of her tunic.  Her hand rises, her fingertips on the back of his hand, soft as silk.  His heart turns.  Her hand lingers and slips away, as she does, leaving behind only the faintest of scents, a scent not there where she arrived, the scent of jasmine and woman. Every sense alive, Mason knows that this far underground and lacking references our instincts betray us.  He winds his way back to the world above.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Fresh from the warm nest of down and cotton she starts the day with a careful cup of coffee. It is wrapped in ritual, simple and spare. There is no affectation of elegance. The ritual is pragmatic purity.  In her tattered t-shirt she slips out onto the porch into the curved cradle of the long bench.  She trails her finger tips along the smooth worn wood and remembers the soft stroking of the sanding block that occupied her idle hours for days on end.  She sits with her legs tucked under her, nursing her coffee, watching the mist vanish. She looks at the calluses' on her fingertips, stroking them with her thumb, remembering.  She wonders if they would shine if she sanded them lightly like the wood beneath her. She lingers until she becomes a hawk and flies, swift and fierce, into the day. Her empty coffee cup sits on the broad planks near the place where her tattered t-shirt lays, abandoned in flight.

Abandoned In Flight

In the cool hours of the morning I catch a cab to the airport.  I pick up an electronic ticket from the kiosk.  My beloved Gladstone carries two changes of clothes, incidentals, and my laptop. The line through security is short, the TSA employees blinking their eyes sleepily.  I hand the inspector my medical card and the metal detector chimes over my pinned ribs.  Breakfast is cinnamon coffee cake and a cup of Peet's coffee, tall and black.  It is a leisurely hour's wait on a plastic couch in the nearly empty boarding area.


Once on the plane I manage to fall asleep before it even gets off the ground. I wake up somewhere over the Mississippi.  I order a Bloody Mary from the flight attendant and root through the seat back for the airline's in-flight magazine. I read an article about Borneo.  I read a second article about Costa Rica.  I start the third article, about Chicago, when a picture falls into my lap.


It is the picture of a woman.  It is a candid snap shot of her sitting at a kitchen table, looking directly into the camera from a middle distance, in an indifferent light.  She has blue-green eyes, an up turned nose, and her mouth is curved in the remnants of a laugh.  She is wearing a heavy blue denim shirt over a white blouse of some sort and it looks like she just came in from outside.  I can see the outline of a cigarette box in one pocket and her left hand has pinned a disposable lighter to the table top. A small gold crucifix glints on a short chain around her throat. She is handsome.  Not pretty, not beautiful, but handsome.  There is a reserve of power, poised and subtle, in her form.


I turn the picture over.  In black ball point pen on the reverse side is written "Abandoned In Flight" and a date three weeks ago.  I put the picture in my pocket and carry it with me into Baltimore. Later that night in my room at the airport Marriott, watching the news, empty room service plates on the tray before me, I pull the picture out of my pocket and look at it.  I turn it over and draw a single line through "Abandoned In Flight".  I carefully write "Found On Flight" below it, with a new date.  I prop the picture up on the night table and fall asleep looking at it.  In the morning, I tuck it in the room's bible and leave it behind.  Remembering a woman I abandoned in flight I am hollow as I leave the room.


These are two very different pieces of flash fiction.  I wrote "Hawk" first.  The character in "Hawk" took on a life of her own at the end of the story, when she transforms and flies away.  The second, "Abandoned In Flight", was inspired by the last line of "Hawk".  I had re-read "Hawk" several times, feeling the cadence of the story, and after the third or fourth time through wrote "Abandoned In Flight".  I think, but cannot be certain, that they are the same woman. I find some strange comfort in that.  Perhaps it holds the promise of redemption. I will never know, but I would like to think so.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sandoval Waiting

Sandoval Waiting


Sandoval would always tell people he was born waiting.  His mother was blessed with a supernatural calmness.  When she entered labor with Sandoval she did not get excited. Because she did not get excited she waited a little to long to head into the hospital.  Because she did not get excited she stopped on the way to the hospital to pick up groceries for her other children. 


Because she stopped for groceries, when she arrived at the hospital Sandoval was ready to be born.  The receiving administrator asked how she was.  In her calm manner she replied "Fine, but I think my son is ready to be born".  The receiving administrator heard "Fine…" and no more.  The receiving administrator told her to take a seat in the waiting room.  Sandoval was born waiting.


As a child Sandoval demonstrated an unnatural patience coupled with a deliberate observation of the world around him.  All through school Sandoval was a B student.  Never an A student.   Never a C student.  Always a B student.  In the army Sandoval always scored 85% on any test, never more, never less.  He was never the top dog.  He was never the bottom dog.  He was always near the head of the pack, but never the head of the pack.  Sandoval waited and watched his way through life.


He made friends. He went to college. He fell in love.  He married.  He had children.  He divorced. He fell in love again. He remarried. His children had children. He had three careers, not counting his military service.  He was a rural electric lineman.  He was a deputy sheriff.  He was a high school mathematics teacher. Though he waited and watched his way through life he was not spared from life.  Sandoval waited and watched his way through all of the strange, messy, beautiful moments of life.  He was patient and observant.


Sandoval died of congenital heart failure, the result of a statistically improbable alignment of recessive genes. He had a succession of three heart attacks, each worse then the one before.  On Thanksgiving Day in 2004 Sandoval was sitting in his living room, in his favorite chair, watching a football game.  His children and grandchildren were there.  A little past noon his second wife brought him a bottle of beer.  He accepted it graciously, twisted the top off, and leaned back in his chair.


Sitting there leaning back in his lounge chair his eyes widened.  They tracked left and then they tracked right.  He drew in a deep breath.  He smiled slightly. Sandoval, who was born waiting, who waited and watched his way through life, saw everything and then died.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Unformed Thoughts

Unformed Thoughts

I started out intending to write about...

And then I changed my mind and decided to write about...

And then....

Unformed thoughts are interesting things.  They slip into our minds and seem to just kind of float around until they find something to attach to.  I started out tonight intending to write about a quote I had heard the other day, but then, danged if I can remember what the actual quote was.  I am close I think, but I feel as if I am missing a critical part of the quote, so I decided to set it aside until I am sure of the quote.

So, setting that idea aside I thought I would write about some of the things I saw today when I was at an Art & Wine Festival in Mt. View, CA.  But, I have some accompanying pictures I wanted to post - however, I would have to photoshop them down to a smaller size - and I am a little to lazy for tonight.

Then, I thought I would write a little about a collection of very short (flash) short stories I picked up the other day - but I realized I have only read a handful of them, so I might want to get a little deeper into the collection before I tell you about it. 

So, I thought I would write a little about "Killing Rommel" by Stephen Pressfield.  I just finished it this afternoon, but I thought for effect I would include a quote from the book - there is an excellent quote about novels in there.  But, I have to look through the book to find it again.  I know roughly where it is, but it is not exactly where I thought it would be.

So, I am stuck with unformed thoughts and wanted to write something. So, I thought I would write about unformed thoughts.  Of course, that would involve given them form.  Then they would not be unformed.

So, the best thing I can write about unformed thoughs is...silence.

With a smile.  Goodnight.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Inside A Flower

I just updated my picture gallery with a series of close up shots of the inside of several flowers during the evening sun.  Enjoy.

A Simple Saturday Morning

A Simple Saturday Morning

Friday night  I went to sleep with all the windows open and the fans blowing to keep the air circulating, but it was a hot and restless night, mostly spent tossing and turning and waking up every couple of hours.  When it is hot the street theatre is generally in full performance mode and last night was no exception.  I live in a neighborhood that is mostly apartment complexes.  Most of the apartments do not have air conditioning, so when the heat creeps up people, like me, tend to sleep with the windows wide open and tend to spend the late evening hours on the patios and balconies and courtyards.  Kids playing, folks returning from parties and clubs, impromptu sport games, fights - they all occupy the streets at night.  Street theatre at its finest.

I woke a little after six AM, brewed a pot of coffee, came online and sent some e-mail and chatted in my favorite chat room for a while.  Then, my nephew T. and I headed across town and picked up my friends P. and H. and we went to SuperCon at the San Jose Convention Center.  SuperCon is a small comic book and pop culture convention.  I had an ulterior motive - I was looking for a specific Mattel Micro Machine to round out my Battlestar Galactica ship collection - and I found it.  I have added "Colonial One", the President's ship.  The President (Laura Roslyn) is portrayed by Mary McDonnell.  If you are not watching this, the final season, of Battlestar Galactica, you are missing some of the best TV of the decade.

After spending a couple of hours wandering around the convention, we headed over to the Fish Market for a light lunch. 

I had a piece of mesquite grilled rainbow trout, au gratin potatoes, and fishwife rice, with a cup of New England style clam chowder.  P. had the mixed Fish and Chips (Fish, Scallops, Shrimp).  H. had the monkfish, potatoes au gratin and steamed vegetables.  T. had a crab salad sandwich and fries.  It was excellent, all in all.  From there, I headed home, and having headed home - I find myself here.  Writing this entry.  In this moment.  And now, I'm not.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Pool

The Pool

It is 98 degrees outside in an unseasonably hot California day.  Last night, the temperature barely dipped below eighty here in the apartment, so today definitely shaped up to be hot, pure and simple.  It is actually one degree cooler than it was yesterday at this time, so that is a relief...okay, well, maybe not. 

So the first thing I did when I got home was take a dive into the pool and splash around for a while.  It was relatively empty (a woman and three kids) compared to yesterday (at the peak, there were about twenty people in the pool), so it was nice and refreshing.  I will definitely be taking a dip a little later in the day as well. I like to take a run through the pool about an hour before I lay down and try to go to sleep - I find it helps immensely on those hot days. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mason Jennings - Fighter Girl

This was one of the splash screens when I logged onto AOL a short while ago.  I enjoyed it, thought it was cool.  Simple and spare, a style I like, voice and guitar.  Hope you enjoy it.

The Keen Ghosts of Absent Friends

The Keen Ghosts Of Absent Friends Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

keen: 6. intense, as feeling or desire: keen ambition; keen jealousy. 


Take a moment to think of your friends.

When was the last time you told them how much they mattered to you?  When was the last time they KNEW how important they were to your life?

Lately I have been keenly feeling the ghosts of absent friends. 

Some of them, of course, are gone from this life forever.  I am 48 years old.  People I love have died. That is part of life.

Some of them are just lost.  I simply lost contact with them over the course of time - people move, lives change, events and incidents effect us all for better and for worse.  We fall out of contact, first a day, then a week, then a month, and then a year and then...we are lost.

Some of them are simply engaged in other things.  Personal things, professional things, hobbies, wars, adventures, trips, time alone, time with others, and time focused in the other spheres of their lives.

I understand all of the above.  I have done all of the above.  I will do all of the above.

But none of the above relieves those keen ghosts of absent friends.  My feeling is I miss them, I want them, I need them.  Whatever reason they have for being gone, I wake in the morning with their keen ghosts tangled in my dreams. 

I wish I could gather them all together at the Hickory Pit, buy them all breakfast, and we could share our lives over pancakes and eggs and sausage and toast and coffee and orange juice.  We could tell our stories and laugh or cry about them as necessary.

So, for all my friends who happen to read this - know that you are appreciated and loved. 

If you are an absent friend for whatever reason - you are missed and I look forward to hearing the tales of your journey when the spheres of our lives come together again.

The spirits of those who are truly lost to me probably won't read this journal.  But I hope that through the mystery and majesty of the universe they know that they are thought of, loved, and missed.

If you are in a dark place in your life, know that I stopped on the way into work this morning, knelt in prayer, and lit a candle tohelp you find your way to your journeys end, whether it is home or some distant shore.

Love, Rod



I have a poignant memory of my father that fills me with a sweet sadness.  It rose up over the weekend, amid other discussions, and I thought it would share it with you. 

In the last weeks of his life my father was weakened but still vital.  I was a cop at the time.  One morning myself and several other officers had gathered at my parents ranch to plan a raid.  My father, a former policeman himself, had hosted us with black coffee.  Many of my fellow officers also knew my father personally. 

We finished our planning and set about preparing for the raid.  I had put on my raid vest (my ballistic kevlar vest) and was strapping on the assorted gear that marked my trade.  My father helped me by adjusting the vest, putting in the splash plates front and back, making sure they were strapped in and set correctly.

I remember his hand adjusting the straps, tugging them tight, making sure the vest fit right. As a last action he adjusted the collar and then patted me on the back as we moved out.

I know that, on that day, in the last weeks of his life, he was fitting me with two forms of armor.  One of temporal - kevlar and ceramic and steel.  The other was sacred.  As certainly as he settled me in my armor, he armored me with his love.  The first armor I have not worn in years.  Hopefully, I never will wear it again.  The second armor I have never taken off.  I know that when we meet again in the next life I will still wear it - as bright and shining as the day he put it on.

He died of cancer in October of 1984.  He was 53 years old.



Tuesday's Child

Tuesdays Child

I have a cold beer
The sun is falling on the mountains
The world has turned golden and green
I bow my head in prayer
For just a moment
Just a fleeting moment
My fingers find their way
Along the frets and steel strings
Soft chords lift up to the blue

Somedays its just good
Just good and nothing more
Never needing anything
Never needing anything
Never needing anything more...

The falling sun warms my shirt
And the whole world goes soft
All the edges are rounded
All the melodies are sounded
Even the crow on the fence
Stills his crashing cries
And turns his head to watch the end
To watch the end of the day
Soft chords lift up to the blue

Somedays its just good
Just good and nothing more
Never needing anything
Never needing anything
Never needing anything more...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Seven Ravenous Thoughts

Seven Ravenous Thoughts

Today I had seven ravenous thoughts and wrote them down.

The Strand of Pearls

In a frenzy the strand broke and scattered about the room, over the bed, over the floor, bouncing and rolling and scattering about unheeded.

The Silver Chain

I curled my finger through it and slowly lifted it until it drew taut and the bearer of the chain trembled.

The Iron Bedstead

Arms stretching out over the head, hands grasping an iron bedstead, clenching and holding and releasing.

The Black T-Shirt & The White Skin

Clean soft black cotton laying upon the rises and falls of form, stark in contrast, inviting in context.

The Candle

A single light guttering, a hand cupping, lips pursing and darkness falling.

The Black Bee

Reading of Richard Burton late into the night, a voice reading from inside the Black Bee.

The Abdominal Iliac Crest

Rising onto toes, arms stretching, shirt rising, revealing the abdominal iliac crest.

Maybe it is the influence of spring. Maybe it is the moon. Maybe it is the heavy scent of flowers in the air. Maybe it is the simple joy of being a man. Maybe it is all of the above.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Fragmentary Serpent

Incidental Incidents

I went out tonight to have dinner with a friend of mine.  He was running late (he was in the parking lot talking to his mechanic, who was delivering the news that to fix his car was going to run about sixteen hundred bucks), so I was sitting inside, drinking a lemonade, and the following fragment popped into my mind and I scribbled it on a napkin.

All The Pretty Serpents

See all the pretty serpents
Lying in the grass
See all their pretty eyes
Watching as you pass

Nothing can touch you
When you're dancing like this
When you're floating on the wind
They only strike to miss

The arrow flies true from the bow
The lance strikes straight to the bone

That was as far as I got before my friend joined me, so I folded the napkin I was writing on and stuck it in my pocket, and enjoyed a good dinner and some good conversation.  As I got up to leave the lady a few booths over stopped me as I walked by.  She had seen me writing on the napkin and was curious as to what I had wrote. I showed her.  She liked it.

I will keep working on the fragment over the next couple of days and share the iterations and hopefully final product with you all later. I enjoy the creative process.

Other than that it was another challenging and long day at work as we move through user acceptance testing - a little saner than Tuesday - but still with its tensions and stressors and tensors.  Never forget the tensors, they're everywhere.

Pleasantly filled from dinner I came home and took a quick three mile walk in a big rambling loop through the neighbors, then home, a bit of AOL, and soon off to bed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

You Fall

You Fall

You run into her on the street
She barely says hello
You tilt to hear her voice that's all
You watch her walk away
And you fall

You fall into a darkness
You fall into a dream
You fall into a shadow
And nothings what it seems

You find her picture
Tucked inside a book
Faded and frayed
Her eyes are bright
Her smile glows
You watch her walk away
And you fall

You fall into a darkness
You fall into a dream
You fall into a shadow
And nothings what it seems

The telephone rings late at night
You don't know the number
You hear breathing on the machine
You scramble across the floor
She hangs up once more
And you fall

You fall into a darkness
You fall into a dream
You fall into a shadow
And nothings what it seems

Somewhere in a dream you feel
The soft caress of her lips
Sliding across your burning skin
You toss within your tangles
You wake up all alone
And you fall

You fall into a darkness
You fall into a dream
You fall into a shadow
And nothings what it seems

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Taxi To Babylon

A Taxi To Babylon

I open my eyes to another hotel room
They all start to look the same
Hot shower, black coffee, gray suit
I check my ID so I know my name

I take a taxi to Babylon
Bearing gifts for the Beast
I dance inside the devil's delight
Drink the rich wine of the feast

All the finest failings of our flesh
We indulge them in our pleasures
All the senses we caress
And call the memories treasures

I open my eyes to another hotel room
They all start to look the same
Hot shower, black coffee, gray suit
I check my ID so I know my name

Every instrument is finely tuned
The orchestra plays with a madness
Born from those darkest dreams
They draw a picture in emptiness

Everything we see casts a shadow
That flickers at the edge of sight
The forms of the finest decadence
That bind us with the darkest light

I open my eyes to another hotel room
They all start to look the same
Hot shower, black coffee, gray suit
I check my ID so I know my name

I take a taxi to Babylon
Bearing gifts for the Beast
I dance inside the devil's delight
Drink the rich wine of the feast

I open my eyes to another hotel room
They all start to look the same
Hot shower, black cofee, gray suit
I check my ID so I know my name



Stress is a persistent factor of our modern times I think.  I have been under a good deal of work related stress for the last couple of weeks, due to a looming deadline and the general ratcheting up of the pressure to meet the deadline. On a personal level the peak of the stress of about two weeks ago - I am actually now on the downhill side of it.

But, precisely because I am on the downhill side of it and have let loose a little of the tight control that is necessary to succeed in a high stress environment (at least in my experience), the pressure of the stress has been popping up and popping out in the last week.

For me, one of the signatures of stress relief is a disproportionate reaction to an external stimuli.  Two things hit my stress triggers pretty hard this weekend.  On Friday, a technician from Comcast, changing out a junction box, disconnected my cable.  I was really ticked off - disproportionately.  I understand that things happen - people make mistakes.  I could see the stress trigger firing and so went for a walk and then curled up with the book I am reading (Killshot, by Elmore Leonard) and got a good night sleep.

Saturday was a good day, an enjoyable day, and I went to sleep about ten thirty Saturday night.  Then, I woke up about four AM Sunday morning and I  At nothing.  No specific reason, no specific trigger.  Just a good general all purpose ticked off.  I took a hot shower.  I went for a two mile walk.  I got a cup of coffee and a donut at the Maple Leaf Donut Shop.  I came home. I came online. Then...I went back to sleep for three hours.

Once I woke up for the second time, after I hit the reboot button of the day, I was far better.  I spent a lazy day around the apartment. I chatted online.  I listened to music.  I watched some cable TV.  I read a little.  I practiced my guitar.  In short, I kept in low and slow through the day.  In the early evening I went out for dinner with my friend Tony, to Frankie, Johnny & Luigi II.  I had the rigatoni. I followed it up with a slice of carrot cake.

I am sliding into the last two weeked of this project - user acceptance testing - perhaps one of the most stressful portions of any project.  I've cleared my work schedule.  I will be focusing entirely on it for the next 12 days or so.  I am confident that we will come through the period well - the application is solidly designed and has already been through extensive testing.  We've got about 30 known bugs going into UAT, but only three of them are of any real consequence.  I don't expect the UAT test team to find any major defects.

But I will fret it and worry it and nuture it and curse it through the UAT period.  I am sure I will vent out some stress between here and there, disporportionally, at minor things.  Then, I am going to take a mini-vacation.  I need bright lights and the company of strangers and late nights and soft hotel beds and room service.  Then of course, I will do it all again. 

I can say something about my work that not a lot of folks seem to be able to - I love my job and I love the people I work with, even with the stress.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Secrets I Will Not Tell

The Secrets I Will Not Tell

I hold secrets that I will not tell you
I have dreams that are unrealized
I have hope nutured in soft places
I have disappointments shrugged off
I have lovers lost and found
I have love realized and unrealized
I have been true and I have not
I have stood fast and I have not
I have learned and I have not
I have moments of darkness I cannot describe
I have moments of unimaginable light
I have times I wept in silence
I have memories of sweeping solitary joy
I have built and I have destroyed
I have planted and I have burned
I have swirled with the butterflies of tenderness
I have been tangled in dark and passionate fires
I have known the great stillness of eternity
I have known life changing seconds
I hold secrets that I will not tell you
There are not secrets because I hide them
They are secrets because I cannot describe them
I suspect this makes me very much like you
And that is a secret I can tell you