Sunday, April 30, 2006


Well, almost ready to head off to Germany, if you want me to be honest about it.

I had all the business-type stuff done on Friday: articles finished and sent, invoices sent, bills paid. Thought I was cruisin'....

But Friday was a stressful day -- what day hasn't been for me recently? -- and as a direct result of the stress, I made two mistakes yesterday and today.

The first was that I overestimated my energy and enthusiasm for trying to make this place sparkly-clean.

The second was that I simply got carried away. I saw things that needed to be thrown away, not just stashed in the closets until the next cleanup. So instead of doing a nice superficial job as planned, I started in as if I had a week ahead in which to finish.

Obviously, I need to finish tonight. I will.

I pack quickly -- for a week-long trip, I can usually be done in 10 minutes -- and have nothing else to do tomorrow but get in car, drive to airport, get on plane.

So if I'm a little groggy in the morning from the combined fumes of tub/shower cleaner, floor cleaner, tile cleaner, all-surface cleaner and Windex, it won't matter much.

And I'll thank me for all the hard work when I get back home.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

My Public-Service Posting...

...since certain misguided fools have decided to rewrite The Star-Spangled Banner and turn it into a Spanish-language hymn celebrating ethnocentrism, illegal activity and -- once again -- disrespect for this country, I thought it would be only fair to translate the Mexican anthem into English.

"Cuál es la salsa al ganso es salsa al gander," don't you think?

Unfortunately, my Spanish wasn't up to the job, so I put it through Google's translation software and got it done quickly:

Mexican, to the shout military the steel you prepare and bridón;
and retiemble in its Earth centers
To the sonorous one rugir of the tube.
Mother country fits oh! your sienes of olive Of La Paz arcángel divine,
That in the sky your eternal destiny
By the finger of God was written.
But if it will dare a enemy stranger
To profane with his plant your ground,
It thinks oh dear mother country!
that the sky a soldier in each son gave you.
War, war without truce to which tries Of the mother country to stain the blazons!
War, war! The patrios banners In the blood waves you soak.
War, war! In the mount, in the valley the horrísonos tubes roar and the sonorous echoes resonate
With the voices of Union! Freedom!
Before, mother country, that inermes your children
Under the yoke their neck fold,
Your countrysides with blood are watered, On blood prints their foot.
And your temples, palaces and towers collapse with hórrido roar, and their ruins exist saying:
Of thousand heroes the mother country was here.
Mother country! mother country!
Your children swear Exhalar to you in your altars their breath, If the bugler with its warlike accent summons
Them to fight with value. For you the olive garlands!
A memory for them of glory! A laurel for you of victory!
A tomb for them of honor!
Mexican, to the shout military the steel you prepare and bridón, and retiemble in its Earth centers To the sonorous one rugir of the tube.

Stirring, isn't it?

Makes me want to go out and rugir a tube....

53 hours...

...from now, I'll be settling into an airplane seat and the flight attendant will offer a choice of orange juice or champagne as a pre-flight "refreshment."

I'll take the champagne. Two helpings, if I can get away with it.

So far, I'm ahead of my self-imposed schedule for getting ready. All that remains on the list is apartment-cleaning. I'll try to do that today so tomorrow is free for any last-minute disasters. Or maybe just relaxation, but if the past is any guide, it'll be the former and not the latter.

Getting to this point has not been fun.

But I'm not going to whine. I'm not.

All I will say is that the trip -- six days in Germany -- may well turn out to be, as a friend said, a visit to a DMZ (demilitarized zone, for those of you not familiar with diplo/military-speak), a break in the long, long parade of unhappy events that have plagued me recently.

I hope so.

I have to take me along, though, and that means I won't be able to avoid thinking about, well, things while I'm many thousands of miles away.

Knowing me, I expect my mind will look for solace in unrealistic fantasies while I'm there. I'll let myself believe in miracles, imagine that upon my return I'll be greeted by a welcome change or two in my situation.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: All I really need are two changes and neither seems too much to ask. At least to me. The rest I can, and will, do myself.

SUB-PARENTHETICAL FOOTNOTE-TYPE AFTERTHOUGHT: One change would do, really. I'm not greedy. A single change-for-the-better in a single area of my life would have so far-reaching an effect that I'd welcome the challenge of dealing with the rest....

The seeds of such changes were planted, long ago, and I've nurtured them as well as I could.

Right now, though, sitting in familiar surroundings and constantly faced with small reminders of what isn't right with my world, I can be a realist and know that what ought to be and what is are far from the same.

I have much more to say, but I'm getting more depressed with every word I type.

And there's work still to be done before I can sit down in that airplane seat.

If only other things in life could be as simple as cleaning a kitchen!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Four days...

...until I head for Europe, and I'm so far from ready it's, well, pathetic.

I need to write two more articles, send an invoice or two, buy a few small clothing items and a new coffeepot, get a haircut, clean the apartment thoroughly, find my missing pet-sitter or find a substitute -- if the latter, I also need to have another set of door/mailbox keys made -- who can feed the cat while I'm gone, pick up dry-cleaning, pay a few bills, pack....

I also have to let someone with whom I'm not in regular contact -- not because I want it that way, I assure you -- know that I'll be gone, lest she decides to call and, after several days of listening to answering-machine messages, assumes that I'm trying to avoid her. That, I would never do.

Any reasonable person could do all this in, maybe, three days. Not me. I'll head for the airport knowing something didn't get done. I always do.

Oh, well.

Even the act of departure promises to be an adventure. A close friend and his girlfriend are leaving for Europe -- different airline, different destination -- at roughly the same time, so I offered to take them along. They are worse about being ready when it's time to leave than I am, and they will have enough luggage for five normal people. For me, who always is itchy about the whole process until I get into that business-class lounge and have fully entrusted my fate to the airline, this is torture.

And Monday is, of course, Illegal Alien Day (I know, that's not what they are calling it), the day when -- supposedly -- all the illegals won't show up for work in order to show the rest of us why they should be allowed to continue to mock our laws. That should make the airport a bigger mess than usual....

When I'm finally wheels-up Monday afternoon, I'll grab the nearest alcoholic beverage and a book -- that reminds me: I have to go to the bookstore, too! -- and settle in contentedly for the ride.

Well, almost contentedly. This trip won't solve any of the problems that bedevil me; it will only separate me from them for a few days.

If that's the best I can get right now, I'll take it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Beauty... a subjective thing, of course, but the editors of People magazine obviously didn't consult me when they assembled their list of the 100 most beautiful people and put Angelina Jolie on it at position Number One.

They're wrong. I know the most beautiful woman on the planet.

Okay, so my criteria for judging beauty are not the same as those of the People people. I think I'm far more demanding, far more selective.

Too bad for them. I'm right.

Too bad for me, too. The most beautiful woman in the world is as inaccessible to me now as Ms Jolie.

My thoughts...

...along with my heart, wishes, desires and prayers, are so many miles away....


...if there wasn't enough strangeness in my own small corner of life, everyone else is making up for it. Irrationality increases.

I'm hearing voices.

I wish I believed that the voices I hear were in my head, not actually out there in the real world. It would be easier to believe that I'm nuts; it appears to me, however, that it's all those Other People.

Locally, the price of gas has gone up again. The voices I hear are reacting to this in bizarre ways.

Those called "liberal" want to add another tax to get a big piece of the incredible profits being generated by $3.20/gallon gas (this will "punish" the oil pirates, they say), and they want to investigate, find out if the oil companies are doing anything illegal by raking in so much loot. Some called "conservative" are calling for such measures, too.

Others called "conservative" tell me that this is just the American Way at work. Find a need -- fuel for transportation, to heat our homes, etc. -- and fill it, and watch the ol' mazooma roll in. Profit, they say, is never obscene.

And, of course, members of the latter group love to point out all the extraneous reasons for the price rises: refineries damaged by Hurricane Katrina last year that have not reopened, tensions in the Middle East, and so on.

There is a disturbing element to all this: does adhering to the "American Way" mean we are somehow compelled to enrich the few at the expense of our own futures? Are we compelled to watch jobs vanish and industries crumble so that politicians and some business executives can continue to rake in the benefits?

While I have no answer for the basic problems, I can see that just about everyone who is opening their mouth -- and taking a so-called "leadership" role in this -- is totally out to lunch.

As matters stand, whichever side prevails in the current argument will do so at the expense of the public:

If government takes action, the oil companies will pass the new taxes on to us, and the revenues that will flow into D.C. will be dribbled out to the favored few. In essence, we will pay twice, as we always do when politicians meddle in areas where they do not belong.

NOT-SO-PARENTHETICAL NOTE: The oil companies are already reaping incredible benefits. They get a tax break for every drop of product they sell -- the so-called "oil depletion allowance" -- and get tax money and tax breaks for research into new energy sources that they have no economic interest in promoting.

If we accept the "free market" theories, we simply have to pay whatever price is set, plus the taxes we already pay, and accept the hardship that ensues as the "price of freedom."

And the "domino effect" -- when the price of oil rises, so does the price of everything else -- goes on. This, at a time when the politicians' immigration policies are forcing wages down and adding huge costs (paid by the average citizen and legal resident in this country, the same ones who are seeing their jobs and income vanishing) in welfare, medical care and education.

If it's any consolation, some people will profit handsomely.

Neither corporations nor politicians feel compelled to act in a moral way. What they are doing is simply immoral (for which there is no punishment), not illegal. It's impossible to pass laws forcing them to change their ways.

I said I have no answers, and I meant it. The answers have to come from people who feel no pressure to provide them.

The foxes are in charge of the henhouse.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


I'm confused, functioning like a car without brakes that is, at least for the moment, on an straight, empty road. Everything's fine until I have to slow down for the corners....

I can work, sort of. I've been -- and shortly will return to -- turning out big blocks of words for a client that I am assured are, at least so far, strung together coherently. Enough so to be paid for, at least.

But I'm experiencing a curious sense of foreboding. If I am that brake-less car on the straight, empty road, I'm about to encounter an obstacle, or find something along the verge that I need to stop for. A crisis of some sort looms, and I can't see it.

The most helpless feeling in the world is to know things are happening that you can do nothing about. Whether it's an unexpected meteor about to strike the Earth or something far less catastrophic in a global sense, my intuition tells me something is about to affect me in some major way, and I will be nothing but a spectator.

I'm one of those linear thinkers who, when presented with situation a, immediately wants to do b in response. More often than not, that instinct serves me pretty well.

On rare occasions, it does not.

Right now I have a feeling that, Somewhere Out There, some person or force has pushed a button setting into motion an unpleasant, maybe disastrous, cycle of events. And, when a happens, the fact that I want to do b -- or even c -- won't matter, because I won't be able to do anything.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: Though "experts" dispute it, sometimes there are odd conditions, phenomena and feelings that predict a coming earthquake. "Earthquake weather," for example, which I happen to believe in. This is a similar feeling, though I don't think whatever's coming up will be as simple as as an earthquake....

Paranoid? Maybe.

But just because you're paranoid, that doesn't mean They aren't out to get you.

And I don't feel as if I have any armor, any weapons to face Them with.

Monday, April 24, 2006


A lot of people, aided and abetted by Dr Phil and Dr Laura and all the other self-help “doctors” who profit from the misery of others, believe that all you need in life is to “be happy with yourself.”

They are quick to say that needing someone else in your life to complete your happiness, admitting said need and being injured by abuse of it, is somehow a sign of weakness.

I know this. I've heard it said. I've heard it said about me.

In a word, that's nonsense.

I am happy with myself, but I do need someone else in my life to make it all worthwhile. And so does everyone else on the planet to whom God has entrusted a soul.

Those who give only to themselves, trust only themselves, feel unable to accept love and support because they have been told their happiness depends only on them, are deluding themselves. And the realization of that, when it comes (and it will), is going to be far worse than anything I or anyone else can inflict on me.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: No, I am not happy with every detail of my personality. I have a long, long list of “change orders” to put into Central Command instituting repairs to traits that make me less than I ought to be. But at heart, I am good. My instincts are good, my reactions are good, and so are my motives.

And I am damn strong. I can cope with all kinds of adversities; I’ve done it before and have seldom stumbled too badly. Whether they are my problems or someone else’s, professional or personal, when the bell rings I have answered, and surely will again.

One of my strengths, the one that the children of the pop-psych age love to latch on to as a sign of what a weak-kneed little wimp I am, is that I am vulnerable to the right person. Get close, get me to trust you, and you can dismantle me like a fork can break up a milk-sodden Shredded Wheat biscuit at breakfast time.

It is a strength because the ones to whom I am vulnerable will find me loyal, dependable, caring, loving far beyond the limits of normal friendship. And it will be so -- already has been, in one instance -- unto death.

What the complainers fail to take into account is that access to said vulnerability is granted to a very select few. In fact, it has not been fully opened to more than, at most, four or five people in total, a couple of whom were/are dear friends who have never abused the privilege – if such it is – of closeness.

I have a vulnerability. I admit that. One vulnerability. Within it is the keystone that holds my entire structure together.

If that keystone is yanked out, and the structure falls, is the responsibility solely mine, or should the one who actually removed it have perhaps not have done so?

You tell me. I don’t think I am weak at all, just human. Honest. Able, willing to love.

And proud of it.

Even now.

Memory Hole

You might recall that term from George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. There, a “Memory Hole” was a slot in the wall into which unwanted material – “facts” that had been rewritten and other small mementoes of a dead past – were dropped. From there, they began a journey through chutes into a furnace that reduced them to ash.

I, too, have a “Memory Hole.” Mine, however, does not lead to a furnace.

Instead, I have a wooden box, in which I store pictures and other memories from my marriage along with photos, emails and other items gathered during the years of the one great mutual love – and yes, I can say that honestly, even though it is long over – I have known in my life.

Recently, I added more items to the “Memory Hole.” Pictures, messages and a few other items. Between these and what was already there, they have filled the box to the limit of its capacity. I can barely close it now.

These are the things I acquired during my last relationship. The one in which I fell in love with a woman who I believe is, in essence, truly wonderful. Perfect in her imperfection, she is the woman with whom I felt certain I was meant to be truly happy.

Given present conditions, I cannot bear to have those items anywhere in view or in my computer.

You might wonder why I don’t take the Orwellian way out and simply consign all these painful memories to the flames. I sometimes wonder about that, too.

In the first two instances, I see these relics as a part of my past and, try as I might, I can’t change that. I’m not sure I’d change that if I could; out of each, some good came.

The third? I simply cannot, will not, accept that a love with such deep, strong foundations is beyond saving.

If the first is irretrievably buried, and the second is unlikely to return, the third, which is at least temporarily sharing space with them, represents my future. On the day I again have a future, I will want them close to me.

But for now, I have had to hide my future away in a box.

You see, I am superstitious: I fear that I will cease to exist when all the joy and hopes represented by those things now consigned to my own Memory Hole vanish in flames.

"It's gonna be a tough summer"

George Bush says so.

He, and the rest of the crooks in Washington, have given us a postmodern version of cartoon character Wimpy's famous plea: instead of saying "I will pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today" as Wimpy did, they say "you will get nothing today and pay for it on Tuesday."

Where I live, gasoline now costs $3.21 per gallon. Well, it did yesterday. Who knows what its price is today?

If the way business operates today isn't bad enough, the ways of government are worse.

Interesting, isn't it, that there is a bipartisan effort in government to extract the last bit of our lifeblood in a spirit of "sacrifice" that they see no reason to emulate.

The politicos want to allow the flood of cheap, illegal labor to keep pouring into the country, depressing wages for Americans or simply throwing them out of work. At the same time, their answer to the thievery of the oil companies seems to be some kind of added tax on Big Oil's obscene profits.

That way, they get even more of our money for their own nefarious purposes, and can claim they are "helping" us.

Don't believe for one second that any new tax on oil companies won't result in even higher prices.

The root problem is simple. No matter what they say to the contrary, neither business nor government feel any sense of moral responsibility for the damage they do to the people who make them rich and fat.

It's easy to say that a $400 million retirement package for the departing head of ExxonMobil is "good business." Heck, it isn't illegal. It's easy to say that business executives deserve the huge salaries and magnificent perks they get, that today's profit is all that matters. Just as it's easy to say that politicians are "doing the people's business."

What remains unsaid: All of this comes at the expense of people who cannot afford it, who are having more and more trouble keeping their heads above water.

I'm certainly not calling for George Bush's impeachment. That wouldn't do any good unless we also throw 95% of the blood-sucking Congresscrooks and a majority of State and local elected officials out of office as well.

And since business is allowed to act more or less as it wishes, without worrying about how its practices affect customers, there is no point in raging at them.

We have lost all sense of morality and community in this country. Sadly, moral behavior cannot be legislated.

At this rate, the majority of Americans will end up being "helped" by the bloated government welfare system that is one of Franklin Roosevelt's most disgusting legacies.

The writers of our Consitution would be horrified to see how their system, in which government provided essential services only and operated based on the will of the people, has been distorted and perverted.

I am not unusual in that I'd love to be wealthy. But I can't imagine being able to sleep at night knowing that my fat, happy lifestyle was founded on the misery of others. I guess that's an outdated attitude.

All that is bad enough. I'm not even going to start in on my feelings about the notion that we somehow are compelled to sacrifice some of our children and even more of our dwindling resources to promote some kind of "democracy" in a country halfway around the world.

It is gonna be a tough summer.

And a tough year.

And there is no sign of future improvement as far as I can see.

Too many thoughts...

...with no words to adequately express them.

I wish I could unscrew my head and poke around inside to make sure everything is properly connected, perhaps reroute and reconnect a few wires, lay down a delicate drop of solder here and there to complete circuits that aren't working well.

I should send it back to the factory, really. There's that big yellow tag to be concerned with: Warning -- do not open this case! No user-serviceable components inside!

Nothing is working right tonight. Not my head, not my life.

Pressure, pressure, pressure. And no place, no way, to vent it that I can find.

I dread the moment when the fragile confines of my skull can no longer contain the pressure.

It's coming. Though some are new to me, I can easily recognize -- and feel -- the unmistakable signs.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Whole lotta shakin' goin' on....

...and I’m not talking about earthquakes. Though, given where I live and all the unnatural disasters that have struck me lately, impending seismic activity seems a dead cert!

First order of business today is a game of find-the-passport. I know it’s in my office, that booby-trapped rat-maze of a “work” space, but am not sure exactly where. The various shelves and ledges where it might be need a good dusting and sorting-out anyway – or so I tell myself – but there are things I’d rather be doing.

That little blue-bound document will come into play in nine days when I land in Europe to start a six-day work trip. There are places I’d rather be going – some also in Europe – and, since I'm being sent there on business, I’m compelled to take far more luggage than I would as a simple tourist.

PARENTHETICAL NOTE: That means a trip to the dry-cleaner this week, too. One day, I will learn to make and follow schedules and to-do lists. Really, I will....

But the diversion will be good for me. Despite jet-lag, too many hours spent cooped up in airplanes, trains, busses and cars, more rich food than I eat in any two months at home, and the need to appear alert and interested even when I’m not, I need to be away for a while, and so welcome the opportunity.

Viewing one’s life from a distance does give one new perspectives, you know.

And when I return home, after doing laundry, catching up on sleep and knocking out a couple of articles about the events of the trip, it will be time to start making some changes.

A lot of changes, actually. I have just spent a long, sleepless night pondering what's needed.

You see, part of what I do in the course of my work is to analyze. I read, I listen when some might not think I’m listening, I snoop into dark corners, peek, probe and pry. I retain what I see and hear, put it in a data pile and then distill it. And I learn things; whether deep secrets or long-lost facts, none are safe from me. And I can add two and two with the best of them. And then I impose clarity on this mass of information and draw objective conclusions.

For too long, my problem has been that I tend not to do this with my own life. I let emotions, desires and immediate needs distract me, blind me to truths that are sometimes staring me in the face.

No longer.

I'm beginning to change that, have begun the analytical process, have made some preliminary decisions about what I’m doing, what I want to do, what I can do, and where I’m going to do it.

The “what I can do” part is the worst, because that’s where I have the least information to guide me. That’s the shot-in-the-dark crapshoot question.

First order of business is “where.” Everything else depends on that. So I will start in on searching out a new burrow for myself, preferably somewhere less afflicted by atrocious housing prices, overcrowding and a host of irritants minor and major that have made what initially seemed an ideal location into something far less attractive.

I have a short list of candidates as of now, and intend to add to it and prune off places that don’t meet my needs. I’ve already had to drop consideration of the place formerly at the top of my relocation list – well, the lovely island of Mallorca is still Number One, but that’s just wishful thinking – and will try to make some in-person visits to other likely places this summer.

Just thinking about what I’ll have to do to make all the life-alterations I consider essential makes me tired. I have no choice, though: everything is intertwined – to change “C” I also have to change A, B and D.

I have no doubt a few attitude adjustments will also be in order. This may present the biggest challenge of all. I do like myself -- a lot -- just as I am. But, though I take pride in them, some aspects of my personality don't serve me well as they now are.

Don't think for a moment that need is the sole reason for starting to unravel this tangled me-web. I want to do it. I'll be happy when it's well under way, happier still when results begin to show.

But first, I have to find my passport.

One step at a time.

Friday, April 21, 2006


...or, the first of what I’m sure will be an occasional, but continuing, series of looks into my head.

I’m doing this for two reasons: the first is that it helps me to put things down in words. But, and this is more important, I need feedback, for reasons that will become obvious.

Whenever I’m in of those situations where life seems to throw a big rock at my windshield – and yesterday was the start of perhaps the worst example I’ve experienced – I always end up asking myself certain questions:

1. Why did the other person or persons involved do/say what they did/said?

2. Why did I react the way I did?

3. How should I have reacted, or should I have reacted at all?

And the final, most crucial question is...

4. What, if anything, can/should I do now?

I can’t give answers to any of these questions as they relate to yesterday, and that’s not why I’m writing this anyway.

What I have realized is that my answers to these questions are inevitably flawed. There are several reasons for this.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: One reason may be, simply stated, that I’m nuts....

But that, too, is beside the point. What I realized is that, for far too many years, my personal interaction with other people has been far too limited. Because of the nature of my work – and other reasons, of course – I spend the majority of my days, and all of my nights, alone.

When I wake up in the morning, I see the same old face in the mirror. When anything happens, there is only one person on whom I can rely for advice: me.

That being the case, I fear I have reverted to something like the state of mind a baby lives in: I react to the emotion of the moment. I feel a desire, a need, or pain and I want something done about it instantly.

The baby neither knows nor cares that Mommy might be busy with something else, or may have done something she did for a very good reason. It knows only now, is incapable of thinking about other people.

I don't have to think of other people for too much of the time, and that has caused my skills in that critical area to become atrophied.

I don’t like that about me.

At times, I can be very considerate. Even under great stress, I can stop, look and listen before reacting, and my reactions are the "right" ones. But I’m afraid I am slowly losing that ability, and I want it back.

This is more difficult to admit than you might realize. I like me, most of the time, and I would like to both be, and be thought of as, the good person I ought to be. I don’t like beating myself up, all the more when I hear two voices – both mine – in my head, one saying “you are a major-league worthless *bleep*, you fool,” while the other says “naaaah, don’t listen to him. It's all someone else's fault.”

I’m not sure which is right, or wrong. Or if each speaks a degree of truth.

So, since I cannot entirely trust my own judgement at this time, and because now, as always, I would like to be a better person, I toss this personal hot potato to you for comments and, I hope, suggestions.

Clearly, I would be happier about myself, and others would be happier with me, if I never had to ask Questions two, three and four again.

All right...

...So I have heard from many, many good people in the last hours and, taking what they have said to heart, will not be deleting my journals. Not this one, not that one.

I can't guarantee that I'll write in either one for a while. Conversely, I can't guarantee I won't.

It will be necessary for me to be very careful if I do write anything. This situation is fraught with peril for me; anything I say about my feelings might possibly be misinterpreted or, perhaps, not fully understood. That has already happened, and I do not want it to happen ever again.

The danger of revealing angst in a journal is that doing so will hurt someone else. I don't want to feel the pain I now feel, but I also do not want anyone else to hurt, whether because of me or for any other reason.

That danger, let it be said, comes from me. My instant reactions are not always what they should be. Until I can exercise more control over that, I feel I'm doing myself a favor by staying silent.

I may seem an insensitive shit, but that really isn't so.

So I will refrain from writing about anything in my personal life that is hurting me. Feel free to kick me sharply in the ass if I slip and let anything out.


Thank you all for the comments. They have helped, do help. I am more grateful to all of you than you can know.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The final chapter.

Thank you, one and all, for the kind comments and messages....

And "thank-you" for the communications that were critical of me, too. I may not agree, but I do try to understand what was said....

The great Haloscan experiment...

...was a failure, at least from my perspective.

I prefer the Blogsite comment system, frankly.

The Haloscan comment setup doesn't give the user as many options as I'd like.

Since I'm most interested in what is said, and who says it, I'll just stick with the original.

It was a fun learning experience, though!

Thanks anyway, Haloscan.

Tyin' one on....

I hate wearing ties. But I love this one.

According to family lore, it was purchased by my father circa 1938. I had the suit that went with it as well, a snazzy wide-lapel job with baggy pleated pants, but time and moths finally did that in.

I'll admit I seldom wear this particular piece of neckwear. Don't have the nerve....

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Comments and Stuff

commenting and trackback have been added to this journal.

Sadly, one effect of that is previous comments no longer appear.

Be assured that all were read and appreciated and remembered!

And I certainly want to encourage, and will appreciate, more of 'em!

For the one I love...

I hope you will understand, my love, that my pain comes not from you, but from the situation that has made you feel a need to keep me at a distance.

Because you have been open and honest with me, I know a little (perhaps a great deal) about what what is in your mind and heart. What I know is that all the reasons I love you are valid. They have not changed.

Because I know you, my faith in you is undiminished. I believe, deep in my heart, that time will bring you back to me, believe beyond all doubt that you are worth waiting for.

Yes, I am in misery now. I hurt, and I mourn the loss of the joy you have brought me, but I do not place the blame for that on you. If you are being true to yourself, there is no reason for you to feel guilty.

You know what I want: On the day your heart is free, I want us to touch each other, look into each others' eyes, and make an open choice, unaffected by past pain, about what happens next.

I need you to know that, my love.

And I want everyone else to know that.


At 6:00 am, the sky was beginning to lighten. It was fully dark at 3:30. That's the time I woke up, after a night of fitful sleep. In the background, an all-night talker at the end of his shift murmured softly on the radio I neglected to turn off when I climbed into bed.

I had dreams in the night. Most I don't remember, but one, a repeat visitor to my dark nights, was vivid. In it, the woman I love, the woman who professes to love me but feels unable to express it, paid a visit. She put her hand on my face, looked into my eyes and said the words I need to hear, the loving words that would close the wounds, erase the scars. She was there, so real that I could feel her warm touch.

And then I was awake, staring into the impenetrable darkness, facing reality: the wounds remain, open and painful. So do the scars. I left my dream behind and re-entered my nightmare.

How else can one describe a life in which the only possible expression of love is to stay away from the person one loves?

People wish each other "sweet dreams" when parting for the night. It's a nice sentiment; I've said it, and meant it, many times.

But do not wish me "sweet dreams," please, for they only serve to point out the hideous contrast between my waking hours as they are and the way I wish them to be.

Another day begins. I cannot say I am entirely happy about that.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


A strange combination of circumstances have led me to reminisce about the past.

The other night, a colleague and I stopped at a taco stand across town from where I now live. It happens that said eating place is a mere three blocks from the place, an apartment in a small building, where I first lived on my own many years ago.

Yes, I used to eat at Tito's Tacos -- familiar to anyone in the West Los Angeles area -- often in those days. The food was delicious, and not particularly expensive. It still is.

In fact, though I had not eaten a burrito there for more than 20 years, the taste was as familiar as if I'd had one the day before. Only my life has changed.

That none-too-fancy little apartment, for which I paid the princely sum of $189 per month, was a plcae where I felt comfortable. I had a good job, was making good money, and I had friends and lovers in abundance. It's no exaggeration to say that the future appeared to have no limits then, when I was young....

From there, I moved to a tiny house in North Hollywood where no one came to visit. I should have been warned; that was the start of a trend.

Ultimately, I ended up the the Northwest, where I met my wife. We moved back to California and, after a while, she divorced me.

That didn't cause me to lose hope. I was still young, had a new career, and after relationships with women who were almost-but-not-quite prospects for permanence, I was looking forward.

And then I met a woman who met 95% of my desires, and that was a rare moment indeed. I was ready to see that as an "ultimate" sort of relationship, ready to commit myself to her completely. She chose, for reasons I cannot fault, to move on before I could pack my bags and trek across the country to be with her always.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: It turns out that this wonderful woman also has a journal here. Though I won't idnetify her, I must say she remains the sweet, fascinating lady she was when we were together.

All of these events have led me here, to the end of the continent. I am reduced to the situation I was in at the beginning, so many years ago: living in a small apartment with no real prospects of any kind of permanent happiness.

Two things that have changed are that I no longer can see a brighter future ahead, and Tito's Taco's is many miles away.

Oh yes: as may be inferred by some previous entries, I recently met a woman who met 100% of my expectations. We fell in love -- both of us -- and yet she has chosen to turn her back on me.

One other thing has changed: A delicious burrito and alcohol no longer insulate me from the pain of rejection.

No one is more boring than old men who dwell only on the past. With no future ahead, I am becoming one of them.


...according to the Bible, goeth before a fall.

And yet, despite my last entry, despite all that has happened, there are certain things about which I am proud.

I am proud of my ability to transmit what I have learned to others, whether through the articles I've written in my "professional" life or the counsel I have given on a one-to-one basis.

I am proud of my ability to give whatever support I have been able to give without thinking of possible benefits to myself.

I am proud of my ability to love unconditionally.

Let's face it: I have been around the block a time or two. I know what it is like to settle for less than what you want and need, know what it is like to help others for the sheer joy of helping, know what it is like to make a positive difference in someone else's life.

It is no one's fault but my own that these things are not enough to satisfy me.

And I know what it is like to have dreams crushed, to have my gifts -- such as they are -- rebuffed.

I blame no one else for the position I'm in. I got me here, and the fact that I cannot extricate myself from this mess is my sole responsibility.

Forgive me if I say that there were moments -- as recently as today -- when someone else might have made the difference between my considering myself a success and regarding myself as a total failure.

That is, by coventional wisdom, wrong, and some people will think I am weak because I have reached the limits of my endurance. They will use my weakness to justify keeping their distance from me.

That, of course, is their right.

The Biblical admonition to not feel pride has proven true. I was proud, and I have fallen.

And I see no way to pick myself up.

That weakness may well offset all the good I thought I had done.


According to a well-known dictionary of legal terms, "the value of a thing is what that thing will bring."

Judged by that standard, I am not worth very much.

Yes, I understand that the quick-and-easy pop psychology gurus tell us that you "must value yourself" and that "you are most important to you; what other people think does not matter."

Those things are true, to a point.

And yet we spend our lives being valued, which often makes the difference between joy and misery. The value of our work is set by others; so is the value of our possessions. We depend on those measurements for survival, for success.

In the end, we cannot escape setting our personal value based on what we will "bring." Are we worth being loved? Are we worth listening to? Are those innermost needs and desires that can only be met with another person worth that someone else's attention or effort?

Perhaps more to the point, does what we "bring" to someone else increase their value?

Experience past and present has shown me my value in this value-oriented world. What this "thing" of flesh, blood and -- purprotedly -- a soul will bring is:


Nothing I consider of any value, anyway.

That's a hell of a payoff for 56 years of trying.

My own self-evaluation may well be more favorable. In fact, it is. But like any trader, I get little comfort from having set a high value on myself when at the crucial moment, the "thing" brings no return.

In a way, this is a variation of the "does a falling tree in the forest make a sound" question:

If I see myself, and try to comport myself, as a kind, loving, caring, supportive, interesting, lovable, valuable person and no one chooses to see that, is it really so?

The answer, based on the doctrine of worth, is a resounding no.

Today has not been a good day for me. This month has not been good for me. This year, which started out with such promise, has turned sour.

And I'm not sure that knowing I am a worthwhile person is good enough, if I alone am able to see it.

Be Your Own Boss!!!

You've seen the ads: click on our website and, for a modest fee, we will help you start your own business! Get rich working at home! Stop worrying about corporate downsizing and HR departments!

Hah. Hah. And hah.

I'm a freelance writer who has been working for myself for 20 years. And I'm here to tell you that being self-employed is not the Paradise it's cracked up to be.

Never mind, for the moment, the venal publishers who try to chisel you down to the smallest possible fee, "forget" to pay or pull similar stunts. Never mind the editors who butcher copy, use your ideas without paying for them, or change allegiance when a new flavor-of-the-month comes along.

Let me tell you what this morning has been like in the wonderful world of be-your-own-bossism:

Email from client who buys on article each month: Have you started on the **** story yet? The publisher wants something else.

Reply to email: I sent you the **** piece on March 18th. What does the publisher want?

Reply to reply: no reply.

And then there was this phone conversation with another client who has ordered six articles:

Client: Where are my stories?

Me: They're done and I'm about to send them.

Client: By the way, I'm not sure about the subject matter of the **** story, and may change it. And the ---- story should be half the length I told you, so just cut it.

Me: (stunned silence)

And this is shaping up to be an easy day....

The only way I know of to "be your own boss" is to start a gardening service and get yourself to hire you as sole provider of yard-work.

Paying yourself might be a problem, though.

There's always the lottery....

Inmates running the asylum

I dread reading the news, dread hearing newscasts on the radio. I've given up on television.

And I dread the return of Congress from its two-week "Easter vacation" -- did you ever get two weeks off for Easter? I never have -- and gets on with "the people's business."

Which "people" are they taking care of business for? Not my people. Not your people.

Unless, that is you are a coporate executive about to retire with a $400 million retirement package. Or unless you are someone who entered the country illegally or have a business that can funnel more money into your own pockets if you reduce the wages you pay to near-starvation levels.

Think of this: Ordinary, law-abiding Americans, the ones who have a legal right to be here, work hard to make a life for themselves in their own country, and who are dying for that country in a war half a world away, are not being protected by their own government. The government whose members enjoy a priveleged lifestyle at their expense.

The people in Washington, D.C. are not Americans.

The president, for example, like too many misguided presidents before him, has been seduced by the notion that he is the most powerful individual on the planet, able to impose his will and spread the largesse his government takes from its own citizens all over the world.

Congress? Bought and paid for by those with the most money to spread around, and stupefied by the vision of millions of new voters who, when allowed to turn their illegal status into citizenship, will be eager to vote for those who shoved ordinary working Americans out of the way for them.

The Department of State? Also stupefied, living in a dream world where "even-handed diplomacy" and "negotiations" can solve anything. They see their job as a kind of worldwide board game in which all players follow the rules. Reality would suggest that no one beyond our borders plays by their rules, but the experiences of endless decades dealing with despots and tin-pot dictators have taught them nothing.

So here's what's happening today:

Americans will die in Iraq;

Americans will lose their jobs, or see their wages reduced because cheaper labor is available elsewhere;

Americans will not be able to attend college, because the fees are too high, while illegals get preferential tuition rates;

Americans will forego medical care because they can't afford it, while illegals clog the emergency rooms;

Iran will continue on its nuclear course, while we "discuss" the problem;

The headman of China -- which was "Red China" when I was young, but a great "friend" and "ally" now -- will be warmly received in Seattle, because companies there see a chance to make more money, but will give no concessions regarding China's slave-labor working conditions, rampant piracy of Western goods covered by patents and currency manipulation while in D.C.;

Several thousand new illegals will pour across our undefended borders.

Who among these do you think Congress and the president will fawn over and promise the most aid to?

The answer to that question is the reason why I dread hearing the news.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I'm perplexed... inexplicable behavior.

I established a journal here simply because I was unhappy with the attitude of those who work for the site that hosts my old one. I liked the place, but not the whiny, immature attitude of its admins.

When a friend had trouble with an admin who took offense at something he perceived -- but did not actually see -- in a message she sent regarding a new site feature that wasn't working properly, I chose to make an attempt to smooth things over. I wrote to said admin, and got a sulky reply for my efforts. Since this followed other public temper tantrums by the same person, I decided I'd had enough.

But the reaction of some people I like and respect at the old site leaves me puzzled and, frankly a wee bit hurt.

At departure, I advised everyone (via my old journal) of the reasons I was leaving, and urged all readers to refer to my friend's site for a full explanation of what led her to leave. I also posted the exchange of messages between the admin and me.

Here's the confusing part:

The reaction was, in many quarters, a defense of the admin not based on knowing the facts. Some posted comments of their own, taking my friend to task for her use of inappropriate language. Some said, in essence, they wouldn't bother to read what she -- and the admin -- wrote; their minds were made up. She was wrong, and the admin -- to whom she, and I, and many others paid money for a service -- was perfectly right to whimper and threaten to go away and no longer help his customers.

In short, they did not wish to be confused with the facts. Their attitude is: My cyber-home, right or wrong. Because that particular journal-keeping site is very community/friend oriented, they were willing to take the admin's side without considering that it was his attitude that transformed an innocuous "word" into a Very Big Deal.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: If I had been there when she wrote the original message, I might well have advised her not to use the cheeky subject line she used. But it must also be said that communication in this cyber-world tends to be more informal than traditional forms of message-writing, and in the end a certain amount of tolerance is demanded from all of us.

There are intolerant people everywhere, on every journal-keeping site, in every town, city and village in the world. I am, in some respects, one of them.

But the comments of those I left behind at my old "home" surprised me. And saddened me.

I have to wonder about people who are so loyal to what amounts to a server and a pile of software that they won't take the time to understand someone else's discontent with its operator. They criticize her -- and me -- for choosing a new place to write, yet cannot be bothered to figure out why.

I'm certainly willing to continue to go back to the old site and read them (and others whom I like and enjoy reading), but they consider me somehow disloyal for leaving, and find the effort to click on my new journal -- an effort that takes them away from their "home" -- too great.

Oh, well. Perhaps if I understood this, it wouldn't bother me so much.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


...and on this day I always remember the radio announcer who was fired for beginning his newscast with these words: “today, millions of Christians around the world are celebrating the alleged resurrection of Jesus Christ....”

Maintaining a long tradition – of some 40 years – I will not be attending the church of my choice. My dealings with God are personal, and don’t have much, if anything, to do with a visit to the local Worship Palace.

Instead, I’ll “observe” Easter from a distance while working.

Work and I are in what can only be called a classic love/hate relationship these days. I love writing, all the more because I’m paid for it, and the whole is made sweeter by the subject matter, for which I have had a lifelong fascination. And yet, when I sit down to compose remunerative verbiage, too often I find myself asking “what for?”

Work buys cat food, rents me a none-too-extravagant roof, and keeps the DSL connected. Sometimes, despite low pay, unpleasant and unprofessional editors and venal publishers, there is still satisfaction in completing good work, in seeing my byline in print. But that’s not enough for me; I want, as I have for more years than I care to remember, to share the benefits of my labor with someone else.

And I know who that someone is.

She is beautiful, incredibly talented, loving, caring, fun and is in every respect the woman I have searched a lifetime for. I know her strengths, and I know her failings; the former are immense, and the latter are trivial. Given time, unlimited bandwidth and a comprehensive thesaurus, I might be able to explain my feelings about her. And I have been given ample reason to believe those feelings are reciprocated.

But – there’s always a “but,” it seems – a tangled web of circumstances and emotions have led her to distance herself from me, at least for a time, with no assurance that the separation won’t end up being permanent.

I don’t blame her for this, even though I consider it unnecessary and wrong, damaging for both of us. I can’t blame her, and never will, for doing what she thinks is right.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: I do, however, wish she was able to listen to what I have to say on the subject, was willing to make an effort to, if not understand and embrace my ideas, at least try for some kind of compromise. Experience tells me some of what she's doing will not help her, but may instead hurt her over time. But anything I might say in this regard would upset her and provoke a negative reaction, at least for the time being....

Be all that as it may, the end result is yet another dream deferred. I’ve had to deal with too many of those.

My wish list has gotten shorter over the years. Beyond a roof, food, books and a few simple things to play with, my material needs are few. My emotional needs are even simpler: I need to share my life with someone else, give whatever I am able, give applause, support, encouragement, comfort and love. And I need someone to do the same for me.

I know these things are possible. I’m deserving of them; I’ve worked hard to be so. And I have seen many others receive these gifts, and thrive with them.

This has gotten well away from the subject of Easter. But it may explain, in part, why Easter is little, if anything, more than just another work day for me.

I hope yours is much, much more.

And I hope next Easter is far more for me....

Don't know why...

...but the complete text of the previous and now-deleted entry didn't "publish."

I'm new here. It's easy to screw up when you don't know the territory yet.

I did have something to say, had a point to make that was not made in the former half-a-post.

Another attempt will be coming up later on.

Right now, I need to make some tea and settle down to some paying work. So I'll just wish all y'all a "Happy Easter" and come back later....

Saturday, April 15, 2006

...before I go on...

...I finally feel right at home here in my new little corner, and all credit for that is due to sweet Whatsername, who so kindly transformed a standard template into something I quite like.

The header image appeared in my old journal. In fact, it still appears there...rather than transferring a bunch of old stuff from there to here, I'll just refer anyone who's interested to relevant snippets from my past.

Anyway, that's not the point. The point is that Whatsername appointed me her adopted father some time ago, and has proceeded to be a warm, wonderful friend ever since. She was before that, as well.

And this is just my little way, inadequate though it may be, of thanking her for the layouts, the friendship, and everything else.

Hmmmmm.... appears my page design is mutating....

I wonder if some evil genius is having her way with my HTML.

It happened before, at my other journal, and the result was, in a word, exactly what I wanted. Well, in four words, anyway....

This is sorta like knowing the Easter Bunny is out there hiding delicious candy eggs.

I'll bet no one has ever likened Whatsername to the Easter Bunny before!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Come back later...nothing to see yet!

Just starting the long, long process of moving here from another journal-type location, and wanted to see something of my own in place.

A little later, I'll start putting up coherent thoughts.

Well, thoughts, anyway. No guarantees about coherence.