Friday, June 30, 2006


...starts in a few hours, and there are still three days to get through until the holiday, but fireworks have been going off in the neighborhood for more than a week. Not a night goes by without firecrackers and other sorts of pyrotechnic devices being lit off. Some sound suspiciously like gunfire, and may be for all I know; at least no one has been murdered around here for several months.

The fireworks are, of course, illegal. The city forbids them, even though various nearby unicorporated areas don't restrict their sale or use.

The first year I lived here, the scene on the night of the Fourth was incredible. Various kinds of unsafe and insane stuff -- smuggled in from Asia; one of the benefits of living right next to a port -- were being shot off everywhere in the neighborhood. It was better than the "legal" professional shows. From sunset on, rockets, pinwheels, M80s and God-knows-what filled the air with brilliant displays and the smell of burnt gunpowder.

That year, the police stood by and watched from a safe distance, doing nothing more than cruising the streets every half hour or so to tell people to stop. The officers were not surprised when the fun began again even before they could turn the corner....

But there were complaints. I believe most of them came from our dim-bulb City Council-person, who seems capable only of sucking up to developers, unions and people who can't stand to see their neighbors having fun. So the last three years have been quieter and quieter as fewer people wanted to risk the wrath of the newly energized police.

I'd like to think this year will see a return to the defiant explosive celebrations that are, after all, part of neighborhood tradition. But I'm not holding my breath. The police have a new division commander here, and I'm sure he wants to keep the Council-person happy.

Even so, I hope the nighttime shoot-offs are the prelude to a return to this relatively harmless one-day manifestation of lawlessness. It's Independence Day, right?

After all, July has traditionally been an unhappy month for me except for the Fourth. Memorably bad things happened in July five, six, and seventeen years ago. And mid-July will mark the fourth (month) anniversary of a really bad blow....

So I'd like to at least be able to enjoy that one night with the neighborhood pyromaniacs before I start looking for a cave to hide in until August rolls around.

I'm still...


If you want to call this "living."

A myriad of small disasters piled atop a large disaster, with precious little in the way of distraction.

The mailbox that remains empty day after day -- except for bills -- and the phone that doesn't ring -- unless it's someone asking for a favor that will never be returned -- don't help my mood.

Obviously, my emails and voice-mail messages are vanishing into some kind of electronic limbo, never to have any effect. Other messages remain in my mind, unwritten; I know sending them would be yet another act of futility.

Ordinarily, I can cope with the small stuff just fine. Not now.

The sad spiral goes on, and I'm running out of ideas to stop it.

Well, that's not entirely true. Better to say I'm running out of ideas I can count on to work, or even ideas that I can reasonably expect to work.

Not good.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

This & that...

...because I just don't feel like getting into what's going on inside my head.

One of my favorite journal-writers is planning her honeymoon. Wherever she and The Bloke (her intended) go -- I suggested Mallorca -- I hope they have a wonderful time.

I was looking forward to a honeymoon myself, having not had one the first time (I had to work instead) but since another wedding seems unlikely now, I suspect I'll never find out what it's like.

Meanwhile, my brother is hatching bizarre plots of Cuban liberation. If he sounds the call, I'm ready to head for the Island of Cigars and take on The Bearded One. Since I no longer have anything to lose, making a kamikaze run against the oppressor and striking a blow for ordinary people -- and, of course, for Meyer Lansky -- really appeals to me.

Who knows? Maybe my face would end up on posters and t-shirts.

Hey, it worked for Che, and I'm a much nicer guy than he was.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Some people have no sense of humor...

...and they manage to mess things up for the rest of us.

The politically-correct bluenoses here in L.A. objected strenuously to a charity benefit called "Hooters For Neuters" that was meant to raise funds for spay-and-neuter clinics. The city has withdrawn its support.

The head of the "Commission on the Status of Women" set up a ruckus, and even the change in advertising from this... this...

...didn't keep her, and a notoriously stupid and strident city emplyee from forcing the city to withdraw its support for an event that might help cut down on the number of unwanted animals euthanized every year.

I've never been to Hooters. It isn't my scene. But I'm tempted to go and donate a few bucks to the cause, which is important to me.

Especially if it bugs the overly sensitive p.c. types.

Confusion and disillusion.

Not long after a trip to Trader Joe's, the local supermarket and the 99-cent store, I fell asleep. I don't like naps; I always wake up feeling confused, groggy and out-of-sorts, and today was no exception.

I must have slept right through my miracle, if indeed it happened.

But I did dream about it. And that made me feel even worse.

Even my subconscious is working hard to keep me down. It's just not fair.

I've been trying to think of...

...something to write about.

It's not as if I have nothing to say. I do. But each time I've started in, I bailed out before finishing.

I could blame it on the weather, maybe. It's 78 degrees, very humid, overcast and there's a strong wind blowing. Out over the ocean, there are rain showers, but whatever might be falling here evaporates -- or blows away -- before it hits the ground. Makes me feel restless, edgy.

But that's only part of it, or maybe nothing more than an excuse. There's a lot going on in the world that bothers me; despite my preoccupation with the personal situation, I can't help noticing that many other things are going badly outside my own little space. I have opinions about them, but no real motivation to write.

My premonitory sense is working overtime. I can't shake the feeling that something is going to happen; whether it'll be good or bad, I couldn't say. I'm hoping for good, but recent experiences are preventing me from being optimistic.

No, I don't want to write about the ills of the world, the venality and stupidity of politicians or anything of that nature. Nor do I want to write about me in my current state. I want to write about something positive, if possible something that makes me -- and other people -- happy.

If I should happen to find a bottle with a genie inside today, I'll be hard-pressed to think of three wishes to ask for. I have only two.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: Actually, I do have a third just doesn't relate directly to me....

This would be a fine, fine day for a miracle.

That would get the words flowing, believe me!

Monday, June 26, 2006

For Mr H O'Fly...

...and anyone else who was unclear about the identity of the sleek sports car in the entry called "Hello Kitty."

It is, definitely, a Jaguar...

And here's the proof...

Some confusion is understandable. I doubt there are many like it in Memphis yet. But this car, which was randomly parked behind it, should be familiar....

Wouldn't mind owning either one, though the 'Vette is in dire need of some TLC....

Sunday, June 25, 2006


...and no, it's not a series of self-portraits!

Down by the docks, there's lots of space for outdoor storage. I've driven past this particular area countless times, but have never stopped to look. Today, I did.

Among the old cars rusting away here -- and rust they do, in the salty air -- are this trio from the late '40s/early '50s: from left to right, Hudson, Mercury and Nash...

A much newer Buick Riviera is probably the least salvageable piece of the lot, having suffered much more than the rest from the rust bug (or, as the Brits call it, "tinworm")....

An unusual sight is this '49 Frazer. I recall these cars, built by Henry J. Kaiser (of Kaiser Steel and Kaiser Permanente fame; a nearly identical car was sold as a "Kaiser"), as my father had one when I was very small. They were actually quite good, but not good enough; the last Frazer was built in 1951, the last U.S.-made Kaiser in '55...

Oddly enough, three vintage aircraft engines are stashed here as well. These, as I understand it, are worth some serious money, and being out in the open like this can't be good for them....

I love looking at old junk like this. Wouldn't mind getting my hands on the Frazer, which looks ready to drive....

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Side effects.

I know how a laboratory rat must feel.

Life has turned into a bizarre series of experiments: how many times can I be swatted down and still get up? How much pain can I bear? How many times will I run the maze before frustration halts me? How will I react to this stimulus, how to that one?

And, of course, the worst experiment of all, which I can't even begin to describe.

Can lab rats go on strike?

This one is tempted.

A random thought...

...based on a commentary I read this morning.

The writer quoted Mark Twain as having said something like this:

"Don't part with your illusions; you may continue to exist, but you will cease to live."

This could be chiselled on my tombstone.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Hello Kitty!

Never know what will show up down here Where the Ghetto Meets the Sea....

If I could afford to buy and feed it, this is one stray "cat" I wouldn't mind adopting....

Get over it!

Damn, I hate that phrase. Doesn't matter whether it's spoken by someone with good intentions or a self-important witch-doctor like Dr Laura, the message is clear: give up your desires, your needs; they count for nothing. It's the other person's right to hurt you and walk away.

Of course it has the greatest negative impact when said -- or implied -- by the one who has hurt you. The one who stuck the shiv between your ribs tells you not to bleed. Right.

Never mind that said person relied on the same qualities they later rejected, drew support, consolation and pleasure from the feelings of love and commitment they now scorn. Never mind that said person would have been hurt terribly, would have reacted badly had those feelings turned out to be false when they needed them most.

All that is irrelevant, right?

I didn't get to the place where people feel compelled to lay that evil phrase on me all by myself, you know.

Yes, I'm bitter. Even angry. Knowing that those qualities I take the most pride in possessing have been consigned to the dumpster, knowing that when the chips are down the best in me is perceived as worthless, tends to make me that way.

I don't like living on a one-way street.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

You know you're depressed when...

...listening to Slim Gaillard doesn't generate any more than a smile. Over the years, his renditions of such classic tunes as Flat Foot Floogie and Ce-ment Mixer (put-ti put-ti) -- both of which he also wrote -- have never before failed to produce laughter.

But, vout as he might, Slim isn't the right medicine for what ails me now.

I need something more than a few oroonies....

Tonight is a night for the blues.


...but not sweet.

There is a ready-mix truck in the alley outside my window, noisily pumping concrete into the back yard of a house that has been under reconstruction for at least six interminable months. I cannot hear myself think, and my noise-canceling headphones don't cut down the racket enough to help.

After a sleepless night, this is too damn much.

I'm supposed to be finishing up an article this morning. I can't. I can barely write this, which requires much less effort.

I'm getting angry. At the racket outside, at every damn thing else. We're talking high-blood-pressure, ready-to-lash-out-at-some-helpless-inanimate-object angry here.

And there's not a potential calming influence or mitigating factor in sight.

Not a good day for anyone to disagree with me or give me grief.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Customer service!

Just one more reason I despise AOL....

Stephen Hawking is afraid...

...that Earth "might end up like Venus, at 250 degrees centigrade and raining sulfuric acid."

Another scientist, one Yuri Fialko of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at La Jolla, California, is claiming a massive ("cataclysmic") earthquake is overdue in the general area where I live.

Compared to such catastrophic scenarios -- both far more believable than the warnings of global meltdown that Al Gore is always on about in his doom-laden, radio-evangelist's voice -- the forces keeeping me pinned to the mat these days seem downright trivial.

And they are. Except to me, of course.

I mean, if Hawking's dire warning comes true, it won't matter what we do, will it? I've had a whiff or two of sulfuric acid in my time, and I can tell you breathing a steady diet of it would be downright uncomfortable. And 250 degrees centigrade is well beyond the "it's not the heat, it's the humidity" level of complaint.

Earthquakes? Been there, done that. Assuming no direct hit from falling palm trees and no fissure opening beneath my feet to swallow me whole, I can get through 'em.

In fact, when faced with major stuff, I can hold it all together pretty well.

It's the day-to-day problems, one piled atop the next, that have gutted me.

If you conclude that today was no less frustrating than previous days have been, you're right. "SSDD," as they say, when they're not saying "same-old, same-old."

Don't get me wrong. I tried. Tried to get a lot of things on the right track, or even on the way to getting on the right track, but so far no dice.

And I'll try again tomorrow, both on the items that didn't work today and perhaps a few more, if time -- and my patience -- permit.

But I would like to see a little forward progress come from all of it.

Otherwise, bring on the oven-level temps and sulphuric-acid clouds, or the Big Shaker....

If I'm going to end up on the canvas, I'd much rather be KO'd by a heavyweight.

Idiocy on a grand scale.

One of the reasons -- perhaps the biggest reason -- I no longer involve myself in politics is the incredible stupidity of our so-called "leaders" and those who support them most loudly.

The best example is the USA's alleged "war on terror."

For starters, I resent those -- such as our president -- who are continually babbling about "staying the course" and how "we have to make sacrifices." They don't make any sacrifices; a solid majority of them never have made any. What they do is send other peoples' children off to make the sacrifices, and spend other peoples' money in support of their agendas.

Nor do they give necessary support to those who do put it all on the line. Our military are muzzled by a ridiculous notion that "wars" can be won without inflicting serious damage on the opposition. This comes perhaps from the equally bizarre desire to be universally loved, which we never have been and never will be. Had we employed this strategy in World War II, we'd still be fighting the Germans and Japanese.

The opponents of the way the "war on terror" is being handled are equally hypocritical. For whatever reason, they scream about the "abuses" perpetrated by American soldiers (isolated incidents when balanced against the total picture) and totally ignore the inhuman butchery of the enemy. Have Johns Kerry or McCain or Murtha, Nancy Pelosi, Teddy Kennedy or the rest of the ranting loons in D.C. denounced the brutality inflicted on their soldiers? They have not, and neither have their mindless followers among the media and the public.

There is a disconnect here that I find frightening. To the politicians and their shills, those who risk and sometimes lose their lives while defending the nation -- and those civilians who died on 9/11 -- are nameless pawns in a larger game.

It is a game that will continue to be played until the public wakes up and replaces the self-satisfied, self-important would-be leaders of the world in Washington with others who understand the true human and financial costs of their policies.

In the meantime, our soldiers are doing their duty, protecting those of us at home. They are the true heroes, not the president or members of Congress. They should be given the unconditional support they need to get the job done and come home safely.

Better still, they should be replaced in the field by those who are so willing to "make sacrifices" and "stay the course."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

If you don't have anything good to say...'re exactly like me, and that's unfortunate.

And that, friends, neighbors and casual droppers-by, is why this is an entry without a subject.

I'd love to be positive, and tell you about good things that happened today. I'd love to tell you about a breakthrough with work and/or overdue checks in the mail, an improvement in my personal life, or even that friends came through and did something with/for me that was promised weeks ago.

But I'd be lying if I did.

So, all in all, it seems best to say nothing.

And hope, with no evidence of any sort to go on, that tomorrow will be better.

If you don't have anything good to say...'re exactly like me, and that's unfortunate.

And that, friends, neighbors and casual droppers-by, is why this is an entry without a subject.

I'd love to be positive, and tell you about good things that happened today. I'd love to tell you about a breakthrough with work and/or overdue checks in the mail, an improvement in my personal life, or even that friends came through and did something with/for me that was promised weeks ago.

But I'd be lying if I did.

So, all in all, it seems best to say nothing.

And hope, with no evidence of any sort to go on, that tomorrow will be better.

If you don't have anything good to say...'re exactly like me, and that's unfortunate.

And that, friends, neighbors and casual droppers-by, is why this is an entry without a subject.

I'd love to be positive, and tell you about good things that happened today. I'd love to tell you about a breakthrough with work and/or overdue checks in the mail, an improvement in my personal life, or even that friends came through and did something with/for me that was promised weeks ago.

But I'd be lying if I did.

So, all in all, it seems best to say nothing.

And hope, with no evidence of any sort to go on, that tomorrow will be better.

Bear with me...

...because I am confused.

These days, I feel as if I'm playing the game of life with someone else's marked deck, rolling someone else's loaded dice.

There are so many things I don't understand. Big things, small things.

All I do understand is that life has become a strict one-way proposition. The flow is all outward.

And I am not happy about it.

I don't have much left to sacrifice, to give away, to give up.

What will happen when the last of my resources are gone?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Since I couldn't manage to...

...make anything fundamentally important happen around here today, I spent some time working on what would be called a "pro bono" project if I had become a lawyer as my father wished instead of an itinerant wordsmith.

Perhaps if my efforts bear fruit I'll write about it here, even though there's a substantial risk that you'll think me even more strange than you already do.

For now, let's just say that this project involves one of my more peculiar -- and unsaleable -- talents. It also involves music, which is an essential passion for me.

If I was smart, I wouldn't even be attempting to make this project happen. It will commit me to a considerable amount of (unpaid) labor, which may or may not be rewarded by public approval.

But there are some things in life that exert an irreesitible influence on me, and this is one of them. It would be the realization of a dream that I've held close for the better part of 40 years.

With so many dreams held in abeyance -- or shattered -- right now, it behooves me to pursue those even partially under my control.

If it happens, you'll all be invited to the Grand Opening. If not, at least I tried.

I'm stunned... other people's idiocy.

Not always, mind you. But just when you think they can't surprise you, some folks just have to let you know how dimwitted they really are.

Refer to the earlier post today about the small client that has started making big demands, demands not commensurate with the small sum they pay me.

I just received another email from them, this one with a list of "guidelines" and a form I must fill out. The form must be submitted each month before I send them an article, and must be mailed -- not emailed.

You wouldn't believe the so-called guidelines. They are eerily similar to those I received before I did my first assignment for my first high-school journalism class. In some ways, they are even more dumbed-down.

This adds expense -- not to mention irritation -- to every damn job I do for them in future. Beyond the cost of postage, paper, envelopes and ink in my printer, it will consume time, the most expensive commodity of all.

I'll have to call the publisher tomorrow morning, as it's too late to do so today.

A good thing to have overnight to let my temper subside and work on displaying a calm demeanor. Right now I would simply tell him to take his new editor and her new guidlines and do something painful and embarrassing with them.

Forget the rest of my day. Nothing good that could or should have happened did.

Isn't anything ever going to go right again?

Not-so-private privacy... what these journals afford us. When we conceal our identities -- at least to the extent most of us do -- we feel free to say much that we would never say to others in our "real" lives.

I know for many who read this journal I must seem about as cheery as Kim Jong-il brandishing a Taepodong-2. I've gotten messages from well-meaning folks -- though not as often as I did at the old place -- telling me, in essence, to "lighten up" and "get on with life."

Unfortunately, you who visit here get to see a much more accurate portrayal of what's really happening in my world than does anyone who meets me in person. For them, I keep up a facade of good cheer, cloak whatever happens at home or work in a positive skin. In short, I am relentlessly optimistic no matter what gets thrown at me.

Sometimes, the facade cracks a bit, I admit. Being nice to people who are, intentionally or otherwise, laying more difficulties on one is hard work. So is being cooperative with people who ask for favors they have no intention of -- or have a track record of forgetting about -- repaying. But it is necessary.

Those relatively close to me have no idea what I'm going through.

You, on the other hand, do. Even if I choose to omit details and identities. Even if I edit out things that might make you -- or me -- think less of other people involved.

I do both, by the way. Whatever else I may be, I intend to behave as honorably as possible, do my best not to betray things said in confidence or give anyone cause not to trust me, even when the end result works against my best interests.

At times, I fail to do even that much. But I try.

Which is why so many potential entries here have never made it beyond rough-draft stage.

There is a point to all this, believe it or not. And this is it:

I would much rather be telling you about good things.

Nothing would please me more than to lay out the details of people in my personal life who live up to their commitments; who receive and don't abuse my trust in them; who show the same loyalty to me that I give them; who enjoy my successes, forgive my failures; who accept my love and love me in return.

Nothing would please me more than to record the instances when people at work react with the same level of professionalism I try to display at all times; who reward my hard work and skill in the proper manner.

When any of those things happen, you can bet I will write about them here.

The sad reality is that none of them are happening now.

That doesn't mean they won't. A part -- shrinking daily, but still there -- of my optimism is genuine.

For the moment, I am one unhappy camper, and this is my place to let the misery out of my head, for whatever good that does me.

With luck, it will all change one day. Soon, I hope.

That would make you happier, I'm sure. And you can imagine what it would do for me.

This morning...

...I probably would have been better off staying in bed.

Not that I was having such a wonderful time between the sheets. The usual demons visited in the night -- thankfully, without talking to me this time -- and I spent more time staring at the ceiling than is good for me.

But among the early-morning emails was one that made me wish I was still asleep or struggling with the old computer and unable to access messages.

My most regular -- but least financially rewarding -- client has been a pain in the posterior lately. For two years, they were happy with the subjects I picked to write about; I would submit lists of topics on a regular basis, and they'd take them happily.

Not now. The new editor there seems to have goaded the publisher into choosing what they want me to write about. In theory, that shouldn't be a problem, save for one minor detail: for practical reasons -- gathering information, familiarizing myself with the subject, and so on -- I need at least a month's advance notice of the subject to put their request into what one might call "the system."

And I'm not getting it. Their latest request gives me something like ten days to make necessary arrangements, and that's not enough.

The price they pay for my work leaves me a very small profit margin. I've accepted it up to now because I could fit them into the schedule easily and I haven't had to spend a lot of time dealing with the hassles of back-and-forth communication, changes of mind on their end, and the like.

But when they begin to act as if they are a major client and are more demanding than the money I get from them justifies, some rethinking is in order.

Now is not the time for me to react to their latest communication. I'm not in the mood.

Don't misunderstand. It pleases me when people have high expectations of me. But unrealistic expectations are another matter altogether.

I can only hope the rest of the day is better.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

More from horoscope-land...

...and this time it's back to the usual nonsense.

Aries Mar 21 - Apr 19
Your deep and soulful connection with someone who loves you like mad lights up your life, especially when it comes to a certain career opportunity. They give you just the support you need to go for it.

I'd laugh if it wasn't so painful.

"...someone who loves you like mad lights up your life..."

Some lucky Aries somewhere must be having a really good time today. I'm more than a little envious.

Sunday morning...

...according to the calendar. Feels like any other morning here.

I was busy last night. Fixed a neighbor's stove, then spent a couple of hours helping another neighbor load antivirus, anti-spyware and a firewall into her computer. She had been getting along without them, and was astonished at all the crud they pulled out of her files and programs. I was astonished that there were no virii found. Some people have all the luck....

Typical June weather here, gray and humid, with a hot day to follow.

I fully intended to continue on writing about other matters after completing the first paragraph, but why bother? Nothing changes. Nothing improves.

The course of this day, like all recent days, is all too predictable.

It's another day in an endless parade of unsatisfying days.

Can't wait for it to be over.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Tomorrow is...

...Father's Day.

My father died 17 years ago. My "second father," with whom I was far closer in many respects, died two years ago.

Until fairly recently, when it was pretty late, I felt absolutely no desire to become a father. I have dated -- and shared premises with -- women with children, but there was little interaction; the kids were older, and had relationships with their natural fathers.

My situation as of, say three months ago, made me think I might inhert a family (so to speak), and become a kind of surrogate father, or at least a male presence in the lives of kids who need it. Their mother put the squash to that idea. Well, she put the sqaush to me; same result.

It's not as if I feel totally lost and useless as a result of continued non-daddy status. But I was fully up for the notion that I would have responsibility for a family.

That's heavy stuff. If nothing else, I wanted to ensure that other kids wouldn't be messed up as I was by my father. I've spent most of my adult life trying not to be like him. I don't know that he was inherently unfit for the role; I think the change from his previous life to the particular domestic situation he and my mother set up, plus the terrible relationship he had with his father, was more than he could deal with.

But never mind all that.

Tomorrow is indeed Father's Day, and part of me wishes I was among those being recognized for their paternal service tomorrow.

That I didn't join the ranks of the male parental units can only be ascribed to the right woman not being around at the right time.

I admire and salute all fathers who have reared their children with care and affection.

Those of you who have sired offspring, or raised others' children, and who love and protect and teach them, are heroes in my book.

So enjoy your day.

Strange but...


My ISP's horoscope actually got it partially right today:

Aries Mar 21 - Apr 19
Someone from your past has been on your mind lately. The universe works in mysterious ways -- you may cross paths with them when you least expect it. Give destiny a nudge and send an email or call them.

In actual fact two "someones" have been on my mind. One is definitely a part of my "present," unavoidably and -- as matters stand today -- painfully so. But we won't go there now....

The second has been out of touch for several years. Though our relationship withered -- she left when certain aspects of my life were dragging me down; I can't really judge her harshly for that -- it ended without bitterness, and she did not gut me like a fish when she left.

I have thought about her, especially after she dropped me a friendly staying-in-touch email a few months ago.

I'm following the horoscope's advice. It can't hurt anything, even though it most likely won't change where I am or where it looks as if I'll end up, relationship-wise.

At the very least it's nice to have some contact with a sweet, interesting, intelligent and attractive woman who never abused my love and trust.


...from the Great Computer Crash of 2006.

I had to call my ISP's "help" line twice while setting up the new computer. The printed directions given to connect the DSL service left out a few minor-but-vital details. No biggie; just give 'em a call. Just as I had to do when I hooked it up with the previous computer.

But an interesting tidbit emerged from those calls to New Delhi, or Mumbai, or wherever-the-hell-it-is in India that the helpers are located.

A BIT OF PARENTHETICAL BACKGROUND: my neighborhood was late to offer DSL, because the phone system wasn't set up for it. A couple of years ago, the phone company supposedly installed the necessary hardware around the area, and then we all joined the Modern Age.

While helping me fix my connections, one of the reps mentioned that my DSL speed was slow. By some long-distance wizardry, he tested my lines, and then announced -- at least this is what I got through his accent -- that the nearest DSL "relay" was more than 7000 feet away, which means I can't get the advertised connection speed. Not now, not ever.

As it happens, I pay AT&T a hefty sum every month for "high-speed internet." Granted, it's faster than dial-up, but is slower than promised by roughly one-third.

I think I'll be calling them about this. Seems to me some kind of adjustment is in order.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT II: I know, I know...not holding my breath....

Ah, well. What's one more broken promise? I got a million of 'em....


...does the frustration stop?

I had one of those days that you would not wish on your worst enemy's pit bull. Half of it was spent trying to deal -- unsuccessfully -- with work issues. And half was spent on a Quixotic project a friend has asked me to participate in, one that could be a source of great pleasure.


That word always seems to creep in to everything I want to do these days. Nothing is simple and straightforward. There's always an "if..." in there somewhere.

If my aunt had wheels, she might be a golf cart.

I thought I might explain this project, but it would likely bore or puzzle you. It involves one of my many non-remunerative skills.

All I'm really trying to do is avoid going to sleep. My waking state is bad enough; when I sleep, I am regularly visited by demons I can't seem to chase away. One of them even has a face, a name, and a voice...she seduces me when I sleep, rejects me when I'm awake.

Perhaps some single-malt anesthesia will help. At this point, I'll try damn near anything to not wake up in a state of despair....

Good night.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The whole truth... not something you're going to get from me. At least not now, and not as it relates to the weight that is pressing down on me these days.

Yes, the new computer has turned out to be a Good Thing. That it took me maybe 12 hours total to set up, reinstall necessary stuff -- typing in my email address list, for example, and getting the passwords for the websites I use for work -- and get all the factory-installed junk out of the machine, was to be expected, I guess.

But the rest is, well, not so damn good.

I don't mind challenges, never have. But it seems to me that one should be able to see the possibility of some future reward for dealing with adversity. I can't see anything like that right now.

Writing about what I do see ahead would only bring you down. And bring me farther down, too.

It's easy to be critical of people who have trouble carrying the load, especially when you have a support system behind you. When you are secure in the knowledge that others have picked you up -- or will pick you up -- when you fall, or be there when you take that leap into the unknown, when you have people who cheer your every move, those who are without such support can seem incredibly weak and whiny.

And it's easy to be critical when someone you hurt is shattered by your actions. Especially when you helped create the situation that made them vulnerable to you.

I think that's all I want to say right now. I'm getting too close to telling you the truth about why I'm in this state of mind. Trust me when I tell you that would not be a good idea.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

For Harp O'Fly (and everyone else)...

...a recommendation based on his comment in the previous entry.

Go here and download AVG antivirus. It's free, as are the updates, and is very effective!

I also suggest going here to get AdAware SE, a free spyware remover. Also very good.

The source of the "trojan horse" that blitzed my ex-computer was a program I was given by a "friend" who swore up and down that it had been checked and was clean. I didn't scan it with AVG before I opened it.

Yeah, I'm a dummy.

The fix is in...

...and it was simple.

After wasting two days on efforts to reload, debug and recover data from my computer, I simply jacked it in and headed off to Fry's where, $700 or thereabouts later, I emerged with two largish boxes containing a computer that actually works.

And a monitor, too. LCD beats CRT seven ways from Sunday.

Of course you all know there's more to the deal than hooking up a few wires and pushing the buttons and keys. I deleted a bunch of useless crap from the new computer -- I wouldn't want AOL if it offered a three-year free trial, and Norton antivirus has not been my friend in the past -- and loaded in programs I actually use. The whole thing took me six hours to complete, and I'm still not done; one more call to the happy Hindus at the AT&T help center may finish the job. For now.

Not having to worry about depending on semi-reliable friends for help -- I bought an extended-service plan -- is a big relief, let me tell you. So is the better performance of this new box.

I hated to spend the money. I had other plans for it. Oh, well. They probably weren't going to happen anyway.

And now to clean up the damage done by two lost days. Too much necessary information died with the old computer, not to mention emails and assorted items I was unhappy to lose. I need to do some work, too.

So my appearances here -- and as a reader-of-friends'-journals -- may be a bit sporadic over the next few days while I play catch-up.

And now, I need some more aspirin.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Beyond words.

I can't write about what's going on in my head this morning. I've tried. Several times, in fact.

It's no use.

And probably pointless anyway.


Yes, I am angry. Furious. Ready to start howling in sheer rage, except that it wouldn't do any good, and no one would hear me anyway over the neighbors on either side and the beer-swiller's boom box outside and the helicopters overhead....

I don't think I have to tell you why. And if I do, sorry to disappoint you. Even at my most infuriated, I'm not about to start naming names. Not any of them.

I am terribly frustrated.

Things are happening, and I don't have any control over a single damned thing. Not one.

Not positive control, anwyay.

Oh, yeah. With help, I can fix my computer tomorrow. I hope.

But everything else just goes on and on, and if I don't like it, none of the principal players involved gives a damn.

I keep doing my little act, hoping someone will notice that I try to do my job as best I know how, try to treat people as I would like to be treated. I care, and I love. With the least encouragement, I am positive and productive, capable of giving -- and willing to give -- my all. Which is a lot, really.

That -- if I throw in $4.95 plus tax -- will buy me a cup of designer coffee.

I have no idea which thing among the many sent me over the edge tonight. But I'm angry.

I. Am. Angry.

And I'm damn glad no one is here to see it. Not that I'm dangerous in any way, but simply because I'd rather others see me when I'm happy.

Damn, I'd rather see me happy.

I could use a little help with that. It's not forthcoming.

Which makes me even angrier, more frustrated.

This is one hell of a poor way to live, people.

Monday, June 12, 2006

My five minutes online...

...are almost up.

I don't know that the connection will die again. It did this morning, and I haven't been able to get online for so much as email checking since 0715 or so. Which is a bad thing, work-wise. I jury-rigged it somehow...not really sure what made it come back on. And thus I don't know whether it will come back on next time I restart....

My computer is still screwing up big-time. The list of what it won't do/does without my wanting it to is too long to display. Suffice it to say it seems some major element in Windows has been corrupted. I did find a "trojan horse" virus which, when removed, killed a few additional functions as it went out the door.

I have saved everything onto CDs (I hope) and tomorrow we will wipe the hard drive and install Windows XP (in place of 2000) and put back all the non-Microsoft stuff I've accumulated. All, by the way, checked individually for viruses.

Do you care? Naaah.

It's just that this computer mess, which consumed hours of my day and kept me from doing productive stuff -- the program I write in is acting funky, too -- and made me want to rip out the few remaining hairs on my noggin, was the least aggravating, misery-inducing and gloom-provoking part of the day.

So that makes it easier to write about than the rest.

And tomorrow, thanks to some things I've been asked to do that cannot be rescheduled and are going to occur almost simultaneously -- thus making it necessary for me to be in two widely separated places at once -- is going to be even more frustrating.

It would be nice if something -- or, better, someone -- wanted to bring me a little happiness instead of constant rations of crap.

But that just must be too damn much to ask.

Monday morning...

...and more of that morning-after feeling.

No, I didn't drink last night, or the night before; this is the usual result of the usual round of dream-filled fitful sleep and too much time spent wide awake, staring into the darkness. Dreams are treacherous things; the "better" they are, the worse the hours afterward.

Early this morning, I organized the week ahead. The resulting list contains only ten items, but four will require most of my attention and time. Of course the continuing unreliability of my computer will affect several items, but I have someone coming to look at that tomorrow. I hope the fix is simple.

But I have to say the list is depressing in a way. Nothing on it will change my mood, or affect my situation in the ways it needs to be affected. Accomplishing everything I've identified as necessary will only keep the wolf away from the door, not make life behind the door any nicer.

There was no point in putting the most important needs on the list. I can tell myself to do x and y, but without someone else doing z, that's an exercise in self-delusion.

In fact, one of the jobs I've set for myself for the week (but didn't write down on the schedule) is to ignore reality as much as I can. Otherwise, I won't get a damn thing accomplished.

That's a tall order.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

My computer...

...seems to be dismantling its little electronic self right before my eyes. Programs that were working fine two days ago now work intermittently, if at all.

So I’m burning everything important on CDs, hoping I won’t lose essential words and pictures. Adding the CD burner has proven invaluable; it has allowed me to save things I currently do not wish to look at but can’t bring myself to simply throw away, and now it is letting me save what I need to save.

After that’s done, I’ll take whatever drastic measures are needed to take to get it straightened out. I may be forced into silence for a day or two if the band-aids and chewing gum don't work....

I don’t need this right now.

Grief on top of grief on top of misery.

Somewhere, someone is sticking – or has stuck – pins in a Scribbler-shaped voodoo doll. Only one has done serious damage; the latest pin is just a small sting.

But it does seem slightly unfair.

Everything happens...

...for a reason.

Or so some very good, caring, thoughtful and loving people tell me.

Of course the fact that they say this when I'm feeling as if the proverbial metric ton of excreat is smacking up against the rotating ventilation device may affect my judgement of what they're saying.

They would say the same if I had achieved a long-cherished goal, too. Of that I have no doubt. And I would certainly agree with them in that instance.

But they are saying it to me now. They want me to know, these wonderful people, that some good must come from the unhappiness, the feelings of rejection, the things I am expected to give up against my will. Though there is not a single aspect of my life -- at least as it concerns other people -- that isn't in the dumpster right now, they believe some reason exists why this is meant to be, why it will be to my benefit.

We disagree on one principal point: They seem to see some good coming from all this. They think I should continue to take the risks I have taken, even though the price of taking them has been so high. They believe in Good's eventual triumph over Bad.

I, on the other hand, look at the evidence and am forced to think that this is the Universe's way of telling me that someone has to take the fall, and I've been selected.

Funny thing: I used to agree with all those good, caring, generous and loving people whom life will -- deservedly -- ultimately reward for their goodness. In fact, I used to think I might be one of them.

Even so, with all cynicism laid aside, I hope they're right.

I hope the payoff they can see (but I cannot) comes soon so I can enjoy it, at least for a while.

Today would not be too early, believe me.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Am I...

...Icarus? The notion of risking a flight on wings of feathers and wax to reach the sun has always fascinated me. I've always known, deep in my heart, that I'd make that flight one day.

Or am I Sisyphus, condemned for eternity to roll a boulder up a hill and have it roll back back down before I could get it to the summit? Am I, as the myth has him, so knavish that I deserve such a fate?

I see some of both in myself.

I've taken flight to reach the sun, and I can feel my wings melting away from the heat.

And I have pushed that boulder so near the summit that I could almost see over the peak. But it rolls back on me, pushing me inexorably downward to the valley from which I came.

As myths, the stories of Icarus and Sisyphus are tragic, yet an element of heroism somehow comes through. Viewed in the context of real life, they seem examples of stupidity, more sad than inspirational.

Yes, I may have tried to fly on inadequate wings, and I may have tried my best to push that big rock up the mountain.

But a hero, I assure you, I am not.

And now... freekin' computer is going quietly mad. It began with the DSL connection problem, and is now slowly spreading. I can't download images from my camera; a few other programs are slow to respond.

I'm trying to figure it all out. I know little about computers; right now, I'm thinking a drop from a second-floor window may be what it needs....

Somebody is trying to tell me Something, I think.

I think the Universe is trying to let me know it just doesn't like me.

It (the Universe, not the computer) has been acting that way for the last three months.


...has been a major pain in the posterior so far. And it's not even half done.

My computer is playing games with me. Not nice games, either. A couple of programs have been acting funky; the latest is my DSL connection software, which refuses to come on screen so I can connect. I have it set to connect automatically now, but don't much like that.

Of course the young lady with the incomprehensible accent at the help number was no help at all. I don't suppose AT&T is responsible for this anyway, so the call to New Delhi -- or Banglaore, or Mumbai, or wherever -- was a waste of time.

Much earlier (think 0715), I went out to meet some people. That, too, was a waste, 120 miles on the road for nothing except fresh air, which I'm in no mood to appreciate.

So now, I get to figure out what I want to do with the rest of the day. I know what I can't do; the rest is just chooosing from pitiful alternatives.

I'll be back here later, no doubt.

Friday, June 09, 2006

It's been a while...

...since I've posted...

...a gratuitous cat photo!

...and another.... a gratuitous bird photo...

...and, finally, a gratuitous skunk photo!

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em... my motto-of-the-moment.

Today, I might hurt someone's feelings. I may whine, complain, make promises and commitments I'll ignore if I change my mind later.

If so, I expect you not only to approve and support my behavior, but do whatever I demand -- no matter what it costs you, no matter if it hurts you -- because it is what I want.

Whether you're a part of my personal or professional lives, don't you dare expect anything from me. Don't you dare hold me to the standards I profess to adhere to. Don't you dare suggest that I should have any consideration for you, should deliver on my promises, should go out of my way for you.

After all, isn't what I think I want right now more important than anything else in the world?

It must be. After all, it’s the philosophy people seem to follow when dealing with me....

Love me. Respect me. Give me what I want. And when I disappoint you, hurt you, give nothing in return and back away from my commitments, remember that it's my right to do only what I want, only what's easiest, and no more.

I'm told I should accept it when I encounter this attitude in others, so I'm joining the crowd. Why should I try to be better?

Or does that self-centered credo apply to them only, and not to me?

Sadly, I don't think I'll be able to maintain this resolve for much longer than it takes to hit the "publish post" link. I can feel it evaporating already.

After all, it's not "do unto others as you wish, and expect them to do right unto you without question."

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Unpublished entries.

In recent weeks, I've written perhaps a dozen little essays -- if I may give them what is perhaps a too-grandiose title -- intended for use here. They remain safely stashed away on my computer.

In each case, something made me hesitate before putting them up for others to read.

And that may be a good thing.

Or it might be a bad thing. They reflect my state of mind at the moment they were written, are reasonably lucid and definitely honest. Reading them might clear up a few misconceptions about aspects of my life and feelings in the minds of some who come here.

Nonetheless, stashed away they are, and stashed away they are likely to remain.

It's not all about the fear I mentioned last night, though that surely plays a part. Nor, I hasten to add, does it have anything to do with said writings being libelous or mean-spirited.

Frankly, the primary reason, so far as I can tell, is that I still have faint hope (however illogical and pathetic that hope may be) that some of the more miserable parts of my current existence may yet be turned around, and that would render some of what I've written invalid. I don't want to burn bridges before I cross them, so to speak....

Various hassles surrounding work are weighing heavily on my shoulders right now. I may write about them later. At this point, I'm up for burning a few bridges there....

So many things to say...

...and they're all jammed up in my head.

There's a big, seething mass of words piled up, some bundled into finished thoughts, others wandering around looking for a sentence to hang on to.

I've tried. Oh yes, I've tried. But they simply won't come out.

Once upon a time, I loved words. I spread them around joyously, secure in my ability to use them to amuse, provoke thought, educate, sometimes even make someone happy in special, personal ways.

Now, I fear words. I dole them out like a miser parting with gold, constantly anxious lest they offend, hurt, make bad situations worse, reveal too much or too little.

The words are still there. But I seem to have lost the ability to use them to good effect, so they remain stashed in the dark warehouse of my mind, waiting for happier times they may never see.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I Got a Right to Sing the Blues

Remember this old song? I’ve heard Sinatra and Louis Armstrong sing it, each with his own inflections and interpretations....

Yeah, it’s a defeatist’s kind of song. It doesn’t give out with any of that “you have to move on” pap spread by Dr Laura and Dr Phil and the rest of the new-age witch doctors.

Rarely, usually just once in a lifetime, love is deep enough that it won’t let you “move on.” There is nowhere to move on to.

When that happens, and things go sour, you got a right to sing the blues....

I know, believe me.

I got a right to sing the blues,
I got a right to feel low down
I got a right to hang around
Down around the river.

A certain gal in this old town.
Keeps draggin’ my poor heart around.
All I see right for me,
Is… is misery.

I got a right to sing the blues.
I got a right to moan and sigh.
I got a right to sit and cry.
Down around the river.

I know the deep blue sea
Will soon be callin’ me.
It must be love, say what you choose.
I got a right to sing the blues

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The "6-6-6" report

Though some feared that today's date plus the numerological double-whammy that mortgage interest rates rose to an average 6.66% heralded the beginning of the End Times (or some such cosmic upheaval), nothing apocalyptic has taken place. I might not have noticed if it had; what's one more major disaster?

I voted today. Impossible as it may seem, I found a place even more lonely than my little cell here: the polling place. While I was there I saw exactly five people, and they were all poll workers.

It wasn't that I felt some burning need to do my Civic Duty, so much as I wanted to vote against two absurd measures -- one yet another bloated bond issue, the other a bonehead scheme to force the wealthy to pay for free state-run preschools for all children. The rest of the ballot was essentially meaningless. Most of the candidates (this is a primary election, so one votes only within one's own party) ran unopposed.

I hope I'm not here in November for the "real" election. Yes, there will be more choices to be made, but they will be races between Loser (R) and Loser (D). And there will be more bond issues, raising the state's debt to absurd new heights, more propositions backed by various greedhead groups looking for special breaks disguised as "benefits for the people."

The rest of the day? Don't ask.

Let's just say there were things that I worked to improve (with results so far unknown) and things I was offered (we'll see when the time comes for the offers to be made good). That was work. Everything else remains as-was, which isn't doing me any good.

At least the cat seems to be doing well enough. He has a vet appointment for Monday, though if anything happens between now and then, I'll just take him straight over there.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Worrying about my buddy...

...and companion for more than 16 years.

Hobbes, about whom friend "birdie" was asking, is showing his age....

Sixteen is a long, full life for most cats. He has been, and still is, happy, but there are problems. He's begun to have some trouble eating; he won't finish the portions of food I set out for him, and often comes immediately to ask for more without touching what's there.

It may be nothing worse than a dental problem. It's apparently unrelated to the food itself; no matter if it's $1.10-a-can "health" food or the basic stuff from the supermarket, I can never predict which food will interest him.

Otherwise, he's in pretty good shape. But this is the age when time grows short, and I dread losing him.

So much has changed in those 16 years. For him, it has meant living in four different places, sometimes with two people (briefly, with four), sometimes with three other cats, for a while with three dogs and two other cats, then with one cat and one dog, then one cat (who lived to reach 17). For me, the changes have been even more dramatic.

And now, it's just the two of us.

So I'll be taking him to the vet for a checkup. If there's something that can be done, it will be done.

If not, I don't care if he wants to be fed ten times a day, don't care how many half-full plates of food go into the trash.

He's been here for me for a long, long time. I'll be here for him, no matter what.

Mental-health report...

...for the afternoon of 05 June, 2006.

With apologies to justfly, who kindly left a comment, I've deleted what I wrote earlier.

There was nothing in it that was dishonest, nothing that anyone could construe as offensive.

But the events of the afternoon required far more explanation than I was willing to provide. And even if I had laid the whole thing down -- something that somehow plunged me back into the depression that has been dogging me recently -- it might still have made no sense.

So let us just say I'm not doing so well tonight, that some small improvement I noted in my emotional state was totally wiped out in the space of a half-hour by something that seemed, on its face, totally irrelevant and enjoyable.

Another night... too many I've endured recently. Alone. Hours spent hoping for sleep. Finally, fitful slumber punctuated by nightmares and dreams that might as well have been nightmares, as they took me to a place I'll never go in waking life.

And lots of thought.

My friend "birdie" left a comment in my previous entry suggesting, as she has before, that I see life in terms of black and white. That's not really so; more precisely, I'd say the reasons for my current unhappiness have been presented to me in black and white, and I'm reacting to that.

You can't get to my age without knowing that others can hurt, frighten, disappoint or enrage you without meaning to. Sometimes they react because they feel you have pushed them into a corner, or because you have done something that hurts them; the reasons don't much matter. The result is that communication is lost and good things are thrown away. Unnecessarily.

If I turned my back on people just because they did that to me, I would be even more alone than I am now. If that's possible. I have learned to let a certain amount of behavior I don't like simply roll off my back, to at least not hold it permanently against the person inflicting the pain, not let it be the basis on which I make judgements.

In short: no one is perfect, and if one expects perfection from others, they will never be happy. Never.

In any relationship -- be it with a friend or lover, and especially when outside forces are making it far more difficult -- the other person is almost certain, over time, to say or do something that seems, by your standards, so bizarre and illogical, so wrong and ill-considered, that you react badly.

I reacted badly at such a moment. And I'm paying for it.

I'm not going into detail. For the record, my reactions did not involve physical or verbal abuse, or threats of same. I'm not made that way.

I was, and am, willing to relegate what was said on both sides to the past. Just as I have let several other minor stings go. They were, in my mind, temporary aberrations not worth stewing about.

I was certainly willing to discuss what I said, how I felt, if necessary, and take steps to ensure that they would not happen -- or at least not be misinterpreted -- again.

She, however, has decided that I went too far, that my transgressions were too important to be forgiven. Moreover, it's my impression that she expected me to react in a certain way I: I was expected to understand that she had to do something that hurt me deeply, to accept and even approve.

I didn't. Instead, I tried to explain to her why she should not take the course she was taking, why I wanted her to stick with me, why I needed her. I didn't want to lose her, didn't feel that was necessary.

Which led to another hurtful conclusion on her part. But that's another story.

Pardon me if I don't understand any of that, if I consider it incredibly unfair.

Don't misunderstand me: I don't say this to place the full weight of blame on her. I screwed up, too.

But none of it, on either side, was sufficient to justify giving up on something that was wonderful, that had potential to be, well, very close to perfection.

Not that what I think makes any difference. She has made up her mind and isn't going to listen to me.

And there is the root of the issue: to get anywhere with relationships, you have to listen to the other person.

You have to give them some leeway to make, and then make up for, mistakes. You have to forgive. Usually, you have to forgive again and again.

Without risk, there can never be adequate reward.

I am not, would never claim to be, perfect. Again: I screwed up.

But if you expect perfection from me, you had damn well better be perfect yourself.

Since no one on this planet even approaches perfection, it is both unrealistic and unfair to expect perfection in anyone else.

We were given -- for very good reasons -- the ability to talk, to at least attempt to understand, to forgive, to assign negative things lesser importance when balanced against positives. We ignore this God-given boon at our own peril.

So that's what I think. As if it matters.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Brutal honesty.

I am terribly unhappy.

It appears I am to blame for the situation that has brought me to as desperately low a state as I have ever known.

It doesn’t matter if I fully understand exactly what I did, or even if I could somehow offer an explanation or clarification. Motives aren’t important; results are. The results have been made painfully clear to me.

I screwed up. And I will be paying for it as long as I live.

So I can’t carry on in the spirit of the previous entry and give you a businesslike accounting of where I stand with the world. As far as I’m concerned, the value of my stock is zero.

It's going to be a long time until I can look in the mirror and not feel loathing for the face I see there.

For a time today, I felt a strong desire to simply make this journal vanish. That has weakened a bit so, for now, it stays. I may even be able to write in it, more-or-less as usual. Tomorrow, the day after, sometime.

The full, terrible weight of loneliness and loss is on me tonight.

If it is something you are comfortable doing, pray for me tonight. Pray that I will be forgiven for what was unintentional. Pray for the happiness of the one I upset. Pray that I can forgive myself for stupidly losing what was dearest to my heart.

And pray that I can find something worthwhile in a life that doesn’t seem terribly attractive right now.

I’m afraid God isn’t listening to me tonight.

You might say...

...I'm taking stock today, running an inventory to determine the state of affairs here at Fort Scribbler.

I'm looking at assets and liabilities, checking performance against plans and predictions. I'm trying to assess current and future trends.

In short, I'm trying to establish the value of my various operations.

Microsoft, I ain't. But I knew that going in.

The annual report ought to make interesting reading. If I dare to publish it.

We'll see.

Late to bed and early to rise...

...doesn't exactly put me in maximum creative mode.

I fell asleep somewhere around 2345 while listening to Ian Punnett of Coast-to-Coast AM. Woke up at 0415. Still listening to Ian Punnett.

Sorry, Ian, you're no Art Bell. You're not even George Noori.

I've always loved late-night radio. Long before I became a professional night-owl working from 1800 to 0200 and staying up even later (which I did for many years), hearing voices in the darkness soothed me, made me feel somehow connected to the world.

Back in the days when I thought I might be able to have a career in radio, I wanted to do the late-night shows. Actually, I still do in a way, though it seems that's nothing more than another unfulfilled, unfulfillable fantasy.

Sometimes, when there's nothing else to hang on to in the darkest hours of the night, people pick up the phone and call those insomniac radio hosts. No matter what the topic, you can tell something else, something far more elemental, is on their mind.

Something like making contact.

You have to wonder: how would that poor guy -- or rarely, for reasons I've never understood, woman -- behind the microphone feel if their phone didn't ring?

I know, all too well, how I feel when mine doesn't ring.

The radio's off now. Sunday-morning programming is, as far as I'm concerned, the lowest point in the week.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: one local radio station has a Sunday-morning call-in show hosted by "Jesus Christ." Not even I, who would do damn near anything for a buck, would have the nerve to do that one....

I can hear birds chirping happily outside. The sky is getting light. Another day begins.

No disrespect to any of them, but I dream of, pray for, a day when I won't have to fall asleep -- or wake up -- with Ian, Art or George keeping me company.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


...or not.

Maybe it's another visual metaphor...

And this, dear friends and casual visitors, is where I stop posting for the night. Anything further that I might feel the need to say would be too revealing....

Another Saturday night...

...much like the last one.

During the week, I have worked, planned, dreamed. I have put on the faces people wanted to see: the loyal worker, the man with answers, the man with ideas, the friend ready to do a favor...they were all genuine faces.

Tonight, as on too many Saturday nights, there is no one to see my face, no face for me to see, no one to hear my voice, no voice to hear, no one to touch, no one to touch me....this, alas, is the real face of me, circa June, 2006.

So it's me, a few drinks, and Frank Sinatra.

Frank knew what it's all about....

Each place I go, only the lonely go
Some little small cafe
The songs I know, only the lonely know
Each melody recalls a love that used to be
The dreams I dream, only the lonely dream
Of lips as warm as May
That hopeless scheme only the lonely scheme
That soon somewhere you'll find the one that used to care
And you recall each fun time
Those picnics at the beach when love was new
It well could be the one time
A hopeless little dream like that comes true
If you find love, hang on to each caress
And never let love go
For when it's gone you'll know the loneliness
The heartbreak...only the lonely know

-- Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen

Another drink, another song...

Willow weep for me
Willow weep for me
Bend your branches green along the stream that runs to sea
Listen to my plea
Listen, willow, and weep for me
Gone my lover's dream
Lovely summer dream
Gone and left me here
To weep my tears into the stream
Sad as I can be
Hear me willow, and weep for me
Whisper to the wind and say that love has sinned
Leave my heart a breakin'
And makin' a moan
Murmur to the night to
Hide her starry light
So none will find me sighing
And crying, all alone
Weeping willow tree
Weep in sympathy
Bend your branches down along the ground and cover me
When the shadows fall
Bend, O willow, and weep for me
O weepin' willow tree
Weep in sympathy
Bend your branches down and cover me
When the shadows fall
Bend, O willow, and weep for me

--Ann Ronnell

Today... a work day.

This was the weekend I was supposed to go back east. For a plethora of entirely practical reasons, I decided not to make the trip.

There were also a couple of impractical reasons for the decision, but no need to go into them here.

So I'm paying for it. Instead of sweltering in the sun back there in blazer and tie, I'll swelter here in t-shirt and shorts.

And I'll try to force my thoughts into productive paths. At least for as long as it takes to do some research and crank out an article.

I'm not as dull as this makes me sound. Really. I mean it. I'm not. Not at all. Nuh-uh.

You should see me when I'm happy.

I hope the time comes when you do. For your sake, and for mine.

Ah, well.

Work awaits....

Friday, June 02, 2006

I'm so popular!

You don't believe me? Dig this:

Just today, I have received phone calls from Hillary Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Dianne Feinstein, the governor of California and the mayor of Los Angeles.

I suppose the election next Tuesday has something to do with that.

Oddly enough, none of them seemed to hear when I made attempts to reply. No matter what I said -- and some of it was fairly to-the-point and forceful -- they kept on babbling about the politician/proposition they wanted me to support.

I suppose the fact that these were recorded messages had something to do with that.

None of them said anything remotely approximating what I want to hear, but that doesn't surprise me.

Only one person could do that.

And she hasn't called.

She'll be warmly received if/when she does.

Unlike Hillary, Newt, Dianne, Arnold or Antonio.

I don't care about them.

I do care about her.

Tired... so many ways. In damn near every way.

Tired from. Tired of.

And that's all I'm going to say about my world right now.

More later. Maybe

Fried brains

Not talking about some evil culinary disaster here; just reporting on my current condition. And no, neither alcohol nor illicit substances had anything to do with it.

I've mentioned the strange computers-gone-wild behavior of the car I drove to my meeting yesterday. One of the symptoms/results was a convertible top that would lower just fine, but could not be raised. There must be some emergency procedure to raise it manually, but I couldn't find it and was behind schedule anyway.

So I was out in the sun for four hours, noggin protected only by a cap. Supposedly, the temperature was into triple digits for the majority of my drive (a time/temperature sign I saw on my way home told me it was 97 at 3:30), and it is a well-known fact that sun-baked concrete/asphalt is hotter than the air.

By the time I got home, I felt totally burned out. Literally as well as figuratively. At 7:30, I stopped fighting the funk that descended on me and went to bed.

And woke up four hours later when some inconsiderate fool started blasting rap at high decibels in the alley below my bedroom window. I never did quite get back to sleep when that stopped; just drifted in and out of consciousness.

This morning? Don't ask. Let's just say I'm not really here.

Doesn't let me off the hook on a deadline that strikes today, though. I'd better get on with meeting it.

A glimmer of hope: in reading back, I see that I spelled words correctly here (all, I think, but I'll have to look again later) and formed them into coherent sentences. Semi-coherent, at least.

I was right: I can write in my sleep.

Or even when I'm comatose.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The home run.... continue with the baseball metaphor, turned out more like a soft bunt, rolling along while the players stand around watching to see if it crosses the foul line. I might have made it to first base. Or I might have to go back to the plate with another strike on the count.

Right before I was set to leave, two things happened. The first was a call from my lunch host, moving it to a place 75 miles away, right in the hottest part of the area. Then, the car I'm driving developed an electronic fault so bizarre it defies description. I had no idea whether it would even make 150 miles without doing something dumb and terminal....

Traffic was the worst I've seen in years, worthy of a separate rant I may get into later. At one point, my average speed was roughly 4.5 miles per hour. On the freeway. No accident; just too damn many people. It was hot, and the air was foul.

The meeting was intense. Promises were made; we'll see if they are delivered. Or even can be; there is a situation developing, having nothing to do with me, that may change everything at the company. Very possibly for the worse. If that doesn't happen, things may work out.

I can't repeat the conversation. I don't remember all of it. I was straining to measure my words, forcing myself to be rational and professional. Fortunately, I think I got my points across. At least this is one guy I can be absolutely candid with.

Then I came home, through traffic almost as bad, returned the car, which gave no further trouble; I'm not sure what's wrong, but I believe it to be haunted.

I'm roughly where I was 24 hours ago, though with some promises to be delivered at a later date, if I can believe in them. The only difference between 5:09 yesterday and 5:09 today is I went through one hell of a lot of stress to get here.

I'm proud of myself, though. I didn't throw up until I got back home.

An inconclusive start... the day.

Didn't sleep much last night. That's normal, lately, but no need to go into the reasons. The result was that I woke up feeling both out-of-sorts and sad.

And then I saw my horoscope. If it is ever to be accurate on any day, this would be the one:

Aries Mar 21 - Apr 19
You've got all the luck in the world right now -- a first swing sends that ball right out of the park. Instant success is yours to be had -- just don't rest on your laurels. It's a sign you need to keep at it.

I don't know whether to laugh or weep.

I've talked to the people at Magazine #1 already, as it's two hours later at their office. It was, shall we say, inconclusive. The editor says she's been having email troubles, which is why she claimed not to have received some of my communications -- and why I had to send my latest column to her seven times. Of course she let the publishing deadline pass without asking me where it might be.

So one of the two checks I was expecting will not be arriving, and she has a column on reserve. I just didn't get into the magazine for that month. The other check? "Oh, must be delayed by the holiday." I hear that more times than you might expect.

The publisher chose today to not be in the office. He wants, I am assured, to have a long talk with me. Next week.

End result? Nothing concrete. The columns will continue to run for now, as long as the editor gets them from me. I have asked -- yet again -- that she lets me know when she receives them or, at least, lets me know the deadline is at hand (it changes) and asks if I've sent it; how difficult is that?

Does this sound like the magic day promised by my horoscope? Not my idea of "hitting one out of the park," I must say.

So far as I know, my lunch is still on. I have a nice convertible for the 50-mile (each way) trek to the office. But since temperatures are forecast to reach into the 100s today -- one local radio host has started his annual "schvitz-watch" heat warnings -- I may leave the top up. Don't need to be muddled by the heat when the discussions begin.

The day is young. I still have a few more at-bats during which I might be able hit that long line drive into deep right field.

Instant success? No such thing. But I'm still pluggin' along....

I'm not even going to talk about other ways -- not related to these two clients -- "instant sucess" would be welcome, in part because I'm not expecting it there. I'd be overjoyed with a little forward progress....