Thursday, February 14, 2019

Discovery

I will never find love
I will never find love
I will never find love
I will never find love
I will never find love
.
It is important to remember.
Halfway around the world.
I am not immune.
.
Girls break up with boys.
Not to be with me.
Never me.
.
I am traveling by myself.
Not just this year.
Forever.
.
I will never find love.
I will never find love.
I will never find love.
I will never find love.
I will never find love.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Yield

“Hoss! Hoss! Open the fucking door!” 

I'm sitting alone in my barracks room on a weekend rocking a game on the PlayStation 2. Next thing I know I hear Bailey’s voice and an urgent pounding on the door. I open it and there’s Bailey, Farncomb, and the new rookie, aka platoon FNG (Fuckin’ New Guy) standing in the hallway.

And between them is an 8 foot tall wooden post with a Yield sign attached.

“Dude! We got this for you!” Bailey says. He and Farncomb look extremely pleased with themselves. I’ll never forget this moment. The FNG is amused too, but mostly because he got dragged along with the cool kids and clearly did a good job.

“What the fuck?” I ask. Of course, I understand why they’re holding a Yield sign. It’s because these are my two best friends and they know how much this means to me. I’m just stunned that it’s right there in Charlie Troop’s barracks.

They drag the entire thing into my room. Farncomb explains they were golfing on the neighboring Air Force Base and drinking one beer per hole. They took the FNG as designated driver so they could actually enjoy their afternoon. Price you pay for being the new guy, but the trade off is street cred among your fellow soldiers which is gold when you’re new to the unit.

I stare at this idol beckoning to me like a shining beacon that connects my past and future. The sign is red and white, fit to fight. Just like the U.S. Cavalry. 

“We were a good way through and then we just saw this sign,” Bailey explains. “But to us, it didn’t say ‘Yield,’ it said ‘Hoss.’” He waves his hand across the invisible memory in his field of vision for emphasis. Meanwhile, Farncomb is laughing along with me at the whole situation. FNG is just happy to be included. 

“We drove right through the main gate with this sticking out the back!” Farncomb tells me. This is extra funny because Bailey drives a 2-door Jeep Wrangler which cannot possibly conceal 8 feet of anything, let alone a full size street sign passing in front of an MP checkpoint.

At some point I had told my buddies about the time my friends and I “appropriated” a Yield sign from the streets of Tallahassee when we worked at Domino’s Pizza. One of my friends was pissed after a shitty delivery with no tip, and he got mad and ripped the sign out of the ground. We asked him where it was, then one of my roommates took his truck to the sight and unbolted the Yield sign which adorned the walls of our college bachelor pad as a trophy. When we all eventually went our separate ways, we left it with one of our friends. His wife eventually made him get rid of it, because..well...it’s a fucking road sign.

But as I had explained to my Army buddies, that first Yield sign wasn’t just a fucking road sign. It was a symbol that my old friends in Florida had used to bond over one thing we all loved: Pearl Jam.

My Florida friends had been Pearl Jam fans from the start, but I didn’t really discover the band until right before their album Yield came out in 1998. I listened to it a lot while delivering pizzas to broke FSU students. And then we all took a road trip down to Fort Lauderdale to see Pearl Jam live. And I loved it. That concert sold me. Their music helped me get through a lot of tough times in my life, especially while in the military.

So I’m standing here at Fort Lewis thinking about all of this in a flash of memory, and all I can say is, “Dudes. I don’t know what to say.” Bailey and Farncomb just grin and tell me to enjoy it. I make quick work getting the Yield sign off the post and ditching the wood somewhere. I know I can stash the Yield sign behind wall lockers, but Sergeants tend to notice shit like a sign on an 8 foot post during room inspections. Out of sight, out of mind. The United States military mantra for success.

In this moment I’m really happy because my friends know how much the Yield sign means to me. I have a deep connection with Pearl Jam’s music and they went the extra mile just for me. People might think a road sign is juvenile (college days, right?) but for me it’s not about the sign itself. It’s because my best friends risked getting caught by Air Force and Army MP soldiers to get the damn thing to me.

Flash forward to 2019. I went though a lot of bad years and had to abandon a lot of possessions in Oregon at some point. But I never got rid of that sign. After rising from my lowest point in 2006, I went back to college, got a degree, and great career job with the Government. In 2011 I bought my house and that Yield sign was the first thing I put up on my wall. It’s opposite my couch so I see it all the time, every day. I'm staring at it right now in South Philadelphia, yet I'm also seeing it for the first time back at Fort Lewis.

Friends who visit my house just see a scratched road sign. I look at it every day, especially when I’m playing guitar. And it doesn't say, “Yield.” It' reads:

To Hoss
From Zac & Cameron
1/14 Cavalry - Never Forget


"Here's a token of my openness
Of my need to not disappear."

-Pearl Jam

Monday, January 28, 2019

Perpustakaan


I haven't seen Kuah Town
I've mostly seen my bed
Many hours I've laid down
Pretend to rest my head

There's gravity at play, it's true
It pulls me to the floor
For when I ask "what else to do?"
The answer's always "more"

I don't want to fight this fight
So, overwhelmed I snooze
Tomorrow I swear I'll write
But it's one more day I'll lose

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Of The Girl

I spent the last two years of my life trying to rebuild myself emotionally. And overall I’ll say it’s been a success. Not too long ago I ran into a bartender at Cooperage who I hadn’t seen in a long time and she made a point of saying I look much happier. So it shows, and that’s a good thing.

I’m 42. I’m single. The only girlfriend I’ve ever had was back in 1993/1994 and she dropped me when she graduated high school because of my emotional dependence. I didn’t want to be abandoned again, not after what my dad did to me. But she did it anyway, and I can’t blame her. Smart move because we all have to do what’s best for ourselves.

Aside from that I haven’t been in a relationship in 25 years. That’s my entire adult life. I personally haven’t met another person who has been single for that long. I’m sure there’s a few of them out there, but we’re definitely the oddballs or the outcasts. Or unicorns depending on your point of view. And the bitch of it is, the longer you go without being a viable partner to someone, the bigger the stigma. The unspoken complication is that something must be wrong with you if nobody has picked you up by now.

I’ve been on a lot of dates over the years. Four is the magic number. There’s been three great girls I’ve met who went out with me four times but that was the limit. By date number four they all made up their mind and decided to move on. I frequently tell myself it’s gotta be physical because I’m a huge fat dude. I get that. But even I have to admit if that was really true then there wouldn’t have been a second date. They all could have backed off at any point. So maybe they get a glimpse into my insecurities, maybe the sense of humor doesn’t click - who knows? At the end of the day we went our separate ways.

As a result I’ve spent so long building up a metaphorical brick wall around myself because I’m tired of being hurt. I don’t want to allow my emotions to be fucked with anymore. After I got seriously hurt by a non-relationship 2 years ago I decided to throw in the towel. At my age dating isn’t worth the potential downfall and although it’s the easy way out, declaring myself as a solo artist is the safest option. I might be passing up potential happiness and a genuine connection that I’ll never know, but I can do what I want, when I want...and that’s true freedom right there.

I learn from my mistakes. Except when it comes to girls. Maybe it’s a deep rooted desire to feel important to someone else, or just plain old wanting to feel needed and relevant to someone else. But recently a girl I’ve known for a while suggested what I call “Schrödinger’s Date,” which is both a date and not a date until you take the lid off the box and observe what’s actually going on. This happened to me in 2016 and it was one of the best experiences of my life, followed by an absolutely crushing downfall.

Even though I’ve molded myself into the steely lone wolf persona, I buckled and accepted because it was technically her idea. So recently we agreed to an outing (date? hanging out? not-a-date?) and I guarantee she would tell you that it was every bit as awesome as I thought it was. We both had a fantastic night laughing and getting to know each other. It’s a rare moment when you connect with someone and feel that spark, but it was there. I can’t speak for her but I’m pretty positive that it was mutual. Maybe she just wanted a friend, and I've been that person many times. I'm glad to be there for my friends. It's one of the few things that brings me joy. Yet something about this entire night suggested more than that.

But after that night, what’s next? I’m scared. Can’t lie. I decided to break my own code and allowed a beautiful girl with a killer personality into my inner circle. We get each other’s jokes, laugh together, and also both have a shared feeling of loss and heartbreak that we don’t talk about but is hovering just under the surface. We share that feeling of uncertainty where we both aren't 100% sure if our lives are going the way we'd pictured. And the thing is, maybe she’s scared too. Just like me, maybe she’s been burned one too many times and doesn’t want it to happen again. After you’ve spent so much time building up that wall it’s really hard to let someone else in. Because when things go great but the ground eventually drops out, the fall is a killer.

So we could just chalk it up to a good time and walk away. Or one (both?) of us might decide to be brave and see what happens when you slowly and carefully let someone pass through that brick wall.

Maybe we’ll take a chance and put ourselves out there to learn more about each other. Maybe we won’t talk again save for when we randomly run into each other. But there will always be that one night where we laughed together and forgot about all of life’s other problems. And that’s a magical moment that can’t be taken back. 

If that isn’t worthwhile, what is?

“Oh, he chose a path, heavy the fall, quarter to four...
Fills his mind with the thought of a girl.”   - Pearl Jam

Monday, January 7, 2019

Malaccan me Crazy


Chinese Characters
Running up the Wall
Wish I could understand them
and make friends with them all

&

light up strobe light
heavy traffic rickshaw
blasting music advertisement
HELLO KITTY - BABY SHARK - MINION
ASSAULT - ATTACK - AFFRONT
a charge led by thin brown men
on bicycles

&

End of Page
End of Stay
Goodbye Decorative Library

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Zero Dawn

January 17, 2066

Looks like this is my final entry. If you found this then I'm assuming you already know how we got to this point, unless you're one of those people that skips right to the end (and what's up with that?).

After Evans sent out the e-mail that the Wichita facility was overrun and we had two options, I figured I'd much rather go out on my own terms than die underground in a metal tomb with the others. The hatch opened at 2100 last night for a few minutes and I was allowed to leave. About 12 others took that option, but the majority were resigned to their fate and stayed behind. I said goodbye to Kim, John and Omar and made my way north maybe a half mile where I found a decent view. 

This morning I saw the sun rise for the last time and had a strangely peaceful moment. We were warned the machines would take out everything here within 24 hours and I can already hear the sounds reverberating off the mountains so they're close. They gave us all a pill if we wanted it (I did) and I'm told it's painless. I don't really have any desire to see the machine horde as my last sight, so my plan was to finish writing this down, pop Plan Z and go out looking at the mountains to the west. It's freezing and I don't have any survival gear so there's not much point trying to make a proper escape. 

Some of the others said we're facing certain extinction, but that ship sailed a year ago. Most people didn't want to accept it even after we were locked in to secure the Zero Dawn project for the future of humanity. My security level didn't clear me for the specific details, but if it works as planned somehow the human race will carry on a few centuries down the road. Looking out at the trees and mountains now I hope I'm not the last human to get to see this. Hopefully others will be along someday after this is all destroyed and Earth manages to survive and rebuild itself. Shame to think how we managed to get to this point, but it's kind of surreal that I lived to see the actual end of it all. 

My last hope is that this journal might serve as a historical account if it's ever found someday. I uploaded it into the servers back at the facility, but obviously if this datapad is destroyed then nobody will ever read this final entry. 

I like to think I led a pretty good life even though humanity as a whole certainly didn't. Looking out over these cold Colorado mountains for the last time reminds me of when I proposed to Dani when we were hiking. I'll never forget the look on her face and what a perfect day that was. I miss her most of all.

In closing, my final set of lyrics. If you read any of my previous entries you know how much I love the oldies, especially Jimi Hendrix from what, a century ago? After all, we share a last name so that makes it kind of a no-brainer. 

Shame we don't appreciate how good we've got it until everything is gone. So long Earth, it was a hell of a ride.

"Blue are the life-giving waters
Taken for granted
They finally understand."

-Hendrix, Bold as Love

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Sting-a-poor


Cloudy Blankets
Pillow Bed
Time at Last
to Rest my Head

*

Tech Trouble
Tech Headache
is the Smartphone
Mightier than the Pen?

*

Walking
Seeing
Traveling
Trading
Six Weeks Malaysia Malaise
for
Six Day's Adventure

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Lucky Ducky

Good luck monster at your door
Invited by your charm
Here to help, here to stay
Figure you'd do no harm

Weeks ago you took a hike
Later ate some food
Things were looking up and up
A boon for monster's mood

You even spoke of Chinese thought
of guests and gifts and Tao
A generous host reaps great rewards
Both for future and for now

But things turned sour quickly
On just the first work day
You locked the monster to a desk
And threw the key away

But good luck monster isn't dumb
Some might say it's smart
When it comes to faking smiles
It's a master of the art

When you feel you're winning
When you see it toil
You'll never know which aspirations
Good luck monster wants to foil

With arrogance you unchained it
You thought that you had won
The monster slunk to lick its wounds
And steel itself for what must be done

Good luck monster found a bar
A private place for tears
Where it came up with its plan
To curse you for many years

It knows your weakness, it knows your mind
It's even searched your soul
Now planting small destructive seeds
Has become its only goal

So when you see it smiling
So when it says "can do"
Know well that it's bad luck code
It's put a hex on you

Bad luck monster in your house
Transformed by hollow charm
Here today to hurt tomorrow
Only causing harm

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

1983...(A Jedi I Should Turn to Be)

At the time I didn’t realize it was May 25th exactly. I just knew the key facts: I was six years old, it was Wednesday, and my dad was going to take me to the 6:15pm opening day showing of Return of the Jedi.

I was hyped all day long at my 1st grade class at Mt. Rose Elementary school in Reno. I got to home right on time at three and we lived in a small rental right across the street from the northwest corner playground. That was the “big kids” side for grades 4-6. Nowadays Google maps tells me the house isn’t there anymore. It’s just a prime piece of real estate on the corner of Arlington Ave. & Taylor St. When I got home I had to kill time until my dad got there which for a six year old Star Wars fan may as well have been an eternity.

My original love affair with Star Wars started with me listening to a record (LP) the year before, which was obviously just audio and condensed a 2 hour 10 minute movie into maybe 60 minutes. It wasn't one of those old  45s with a book where you'd turn the page when Artoo beeps. This was a full size 33 1/3 RPM LP that was just the audio track from the film. Apparently I had seen Star Wars at a drive-in when it was released, but I was a year old so of course there were no memories there. The Empire Strikes Back was the first movie I can remember seeing in the theater in 1980. My mom took me to see that one but I don’t remember much other than waiting in line, pointing out the poster, falling asleep around the Dagobah training bits, Han Solo in carbonite, and of course the whole “Who’s your daddy?” routine at the end.

But coming up to the release of Jedi (original working title: Revenge of the Jedi) I was in full-out hype mode. Listening to Star Wars on LP so many times and all the Kenner toy catalogs had me riled up and ready to rock. Back in the day we had no internet to house the land of massive spoilers, so what we got instead were things like the Kenner toy catalog with a blacked-out picture and the caption “Jabba the Hutt Playset.” You remember that dude Han name dropped? I mean he’d been mentioned in the two previous movies so he must be big (literally). But there was no way anyone was gonna find out what a Hutt looked like before May 25th.

Eventually my dad showed up on what was still a relatively sunny late afternoon in the Nevada desert. We walked down to the United Artists theater on 1st St. in downtown Reno on the Truckee River. It was only a mile but as a hyped up kid it felt like walking all the way from Anchorhead to Mos Eisley. When we got to the theater there was a line outside, naturally. My dad told me we were getting tickets to see it in Dolby, which was the kickass state-of-the-art audio back then. We got our tickets grabbed seats, and got ready for something that was about to set my own personal standard for movies and pop culture.

To this day when people ask me what my favorite movie is, I always ask, “You mean besides Star Wars?” Because all of those movies to me exist as a separate thing outside of normal filmdom. The correct answer to that question is Raiders of the Lost Ark, by the way. But I digress. As I was about to discover on that fateful May evening, Jedi cemented the Star Wars legacy as not just part of my pop culture persona, but part of my life. For 16 years after this during the most impressionable years of my life, I was part of an entire fantasy universe that consisted only of three films, or about six and a half hours of footage.

Finally the lights went down and the 20th Century Fox fanfare let us know that shit was about to get real.

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...”

Episode VI
RETURN OF THE JEDI

Luke Skywalker has returned to
his home planet of Tatooine in
an attempt to rescue his
friend Han Solo from the
clutches of the vile gangster
Jabba the Hutt.

Oh. Shit. It’s fuckin’ on now. And what followed over the next 2 hours and 15 minutes was incredible. I got my first glimpse of iconic moments that to this day still permeate my memory. Things like:

A new Death Star. Is that legal?

The reveal of Jabba the Hutt.

“At last we have the mighty Chewbacca.” Cheessa...beecha ko wonkae Chewbacca. At least that's what it sounds like to me. Ask me to say it sometime, I do a pretty great impression.

Han Solo falling out of that melting carbonite.

Vanishing 900-year old Yoda.

That speeder bike chase. Hot damn!

Ewoks. And you know what? Fuck off. I liked them when I was a kid. Which of course was the point.

“It’s a trap!”

An actual space battle between Rebel & Imperial fleets. You know, war...in the stars.

Lando as that asshole friend that borrows your ride but brings it back without the side mirror.

The showdown between Luke, Vader, and the Emperor.

And of course, my absolute favorite moment of the film. It’s so good that it gets its own couple of paragraphs in case you weren’t around in 1983 to understand how awesome it was.

Luke Skywalker, alone and walking the plank to certain death above the sarlacc. At the last instant Artoo launched an object into the air, and we all suddenly found out what happened to Luke’s lightsaber after he lost it at Bespin. Turns out he never got it back. Homeboy made a new one.

We all thought it was gonna be blue. Because good Jedi have blue lightsabers and Sith have red. Plus all the marketing posters had Luke (or just the two hands) holding a blue lightsaber. But in that instant ol’ George reminded us once again that you should never be afraid to dream and try something slightly different. And keeping one tiny detail quiet reminded us all how much fun it is to be surprised at the movies over something so simple.

Because that goddamn lightsaber was green.

And then Luke proceeded to spend four minutes showing Team Jabba why one lone Jedi is not to be fucked with. The Wu-Tang Clan of a galaxy far, far away if you will. Even to this day that sequence is the only time we got to see a Jedi totally putting the smack down on scum and villainy until the prequels rolled out sixteen years later. I still get goosebumps when that scene starts due in no small part to John Williams' score which hits all the right beats.

34 years later Luke grew up like I did, a little wiser, a little worse for wear, and showed us how to win a battle without fighting at all yet still inspire hope. But that’s a story for another time.

Way back in 1983 we walked out of that theater and I knew I’d just witnessed a monumental experience that would impact my life for years to come.

It’s the best memory I have of my old man which made it even more special. We didn’t have that many great moments together to choose from, but Jedi is at the top and it isn’t even close. On November 26, 2016 I was watching The Force Awakens with my mom when we both found out he passed away. I thought that was fitting that the two most powerful memories about my old man had to do with Star Wars and not his music. My first theater memory was watching Empire with my mom, and my most exciting one was watching Jedi with my dad a few years later. Both parents are somehow responsible for turning me into a Star Wars junkie. The kind of guy who would opt to get “Jedi” printed on his dog tags in the Army many years later. The kind of guy who built a lightsaber hilt out of plumbing parts that was mistaken for a bong during a barracks inspection.

For me the Star Wars universe isn’t just some movies I saw a couple of times. It’s a major part of who I am. I can tell you exactly who I was with for each one of those films the first time I saw them up to and including Solo in 2018 which fittingly is the only one I've watched alone. I've attached many great memories with friends and family to my Star Wars experience. And it really all goes back to May 25, 1983.



“So be it...Jedi.”

Monday, December 17, 2018

It's never been about the Money

Since Hoss has been posting a lot of his autobiographical stuff and I'm in a real weird spot (geographically and mentally), I figured I'd write a little piece about my own pile of shit. As with the piece that will be published on my travel blog on Christmas, this is going to be a lot of me complaining and generally being grumpy.

Trying to come up with a title for this piece, one of my thoughts was "Sweet & Sour". I don't know if that's still a good title, but it might work for splitting this into two sections. My grumbling and griping followed by a bit more perspective. It's a good exercise for me to do more often, as I'm still a human reacting to what's around me rather than thinking about the arc of my life. Beware, dear reader - every sentence I type under "SOUR" needs an asterisk - I'll try to broadly address my own logical faults in the "SWEET" section.