Matters Of Little Consequence

Sunday August 5, 2007: The plane banked hard as it took its slot inside a gaggle of interloping tin birds looking to scavenge solid ground for a spell. My window seat provided me a dashboard view of a town whose skyline was a soothing weep of mayhem and mystery, built on hard promises, like a dice game that never gets finished.

Chicago is a stylized ritual of muck and mortar neighborhoods wrestling the waist of high spire glass totems whose fire spills out genius dreamers hopped up on caffeine and anti-depressants. From the sky, none of that matters because it’s a seductive postcard whose come hither purrs love songs from a time so lost to present day, you wouldn’t even bother pasting it to a milk carton.

It had been more than a decade since I’d been to Chi town, and lots had changed. Harry Caray had gone to that big ballpark in the sky and Michael Jordan had retired for good. On the positive side of the ledger, the White Sox had broken a billy goat curse which allowed Shoeless Joe to finally rest in peace. And a Senator named Barack was making big noise on the national level, threatening to make Chicago politics something much more relevant than a punchline reserved for happy hour.

The truth is, the nostalgia didn’t mean a thing to me. I would have been plenty fine meeting her at an Applebee’s in Fargo, North Dakota. Because from the get, it really felt like the moon was throwing us a ladder and the stars were giving us a chance and Al Green was cleaning his soulful pipes for us as if we were close personal friends. And when nothing else matters the way nothing else was mattering to me right then? Well . . I knew I was fucked.

Yes, I should have been a touch spooked by her Shakespearean tragedy of a family history, but I wasn’t cutting or running. It was as if I was provoking the damnedest parts of me into turning another page of this mystery novel called Her. Because she was my favorite Elvis Costello song without even trying.

I stepped off the plane and began reacquainting myself with O’Hare, which always reminded me of a movie set, replete with a full-throated cast of characters bustling around as if there were medals in the offing. I made my way upstairs and then out into the street where I began looking for my ride. I scanned left to right and back again. Nothing. And then a thought rushed up on me before I could stop it. What if she had second thoughts about this meeting?

And then I turned to find her standing by the side of her car looking right at me. She was double take beautiful, with crazy blonde hair that rained down her shoulders. And I was going to be the guy every other guy would envy as soon as I swooped her up.

When I turned and began walking in her direction, she loosed a shy girl smile in my direction as her eyes turned away from mine before they could give too much away. I walked up to her and lifted her into an embrace to make it real. Her response let me know what the rest of our afternoon was going to look like.

I had made reservations at a DoubleTree near her place. As far as her kids were concerned, she had decided against introductions on my initial trip out to see her. We had agreed that it was important to see what our dynamic was going to feel like once we were in the same place at the same time.

It didn’t take long to figure us out, though. As we knocked back a couple of lagers, we talked and laughed and finished each other’s sentences as if we’d been doing it for a lifetime. It felt so much more relevant than a simple connection to another individual. And while I had never really believed in soul mates, she was changing my mind with every spell binding turn.

We went for a walk afterwards, to spin away any of the residual anxiety we might have been holding onto. And that’s when I brought her into me for our first real kiss; a kiss that crushed time into a velvety plush. It wasn’t simply a kiss. No. From that moment on, we would refer to the moment when clarity knocked on our door as The Kiss.

It was the end of the world as we knew it.

Matters Of Little Consequence

One of the most magical events in a person’s life is when you bring a puppy home for the first time. The moments brimming with hope and joy and a feeling that centers you as if a marigold on spring’s first day. You paint countless scenarios in your brain, each one more optimistic than the last. And nowhere inside all those many scenarios do you even remotely imagine the reality of the situation.

You never think about the fact that your little puppy is gonna die one day.

Of course you don’t, because who in their right mind would take into consideration such a tragic circumstance? I mean, those kinds of thought processes are reserved for flaming anarchists, Scientologists and actuaries. Heartless actuaries.

Love is the very same thing.

When you lock eyes with a stranger across a crowded floor, or go out on a first date or have a three and a half hour phone conversation with a perfect stranger. And know. You just know. As if the universe went through all the trouble of being born, coming of age and growing old . . . for you.  So that you could arrive at that moment when you figured out the ending you didn’t even know you were looking for.

You never once think about forever having an end.

I woke up on Friday, June 8th 2007 and felt more charmed than the lovechild of Brad Pitt and Vera Farmiga. It didn’t matter in the least that it was too early to be wearing a smile. I woke up thinking it had to be the middle of the afternoon before my alarm clock corrected me with half past six. Less than six hours prior, I’d been pinballing through the witching hours with a voice that left me wanting more of that good thing.

The Dame was every bit of that beautiful storm that I’d been keeping track of for most of the last couple months. Hers was a mystic thrown down from that fateful moment when Eve told Adam that she might want to marry him one day if he watched his weight and kept that firm body.

The Dame was crazy, but a crazy borne of hard wrought places that belied her silver spoon existence. She was a rich man’s daughter but she wasn’t spoiled. She was a looker but she wasn’t conceited in the least. She possessed as brilliant a pen as I’d ever had the privilege of knowing on a first name basis. And she never once talked about it inside the three and a half hours that catapulted us from strangers into something more than friends.

And her timing was madly provocative, as if her words danced inside the language of honeybees. Her smoking gun was left on my doorstep with a Pinot fueled come hither that left me stranded in the middle of dry land. She stapled three little words to every lonely part of me before hanging up.

“Just get here,” 

It wasn’t fair, which had been her intention. The merry bachelor who played single dad with french toast and long hikes and playboy chef when I had the weekends to myself, had been harpooned like a fucking Marlin. I just didn’t know it yet.

I put a second pot of coffee on before settling down to check my comments on the Gorilla when Dan finally decided to return my call.

“Yo!” Dan bellowed, his voice thick with exhaustion and nicotine.

“About time man, I called you after hanging up with the Dame last night,” I said with mock exasperation.

“Sorry honey, but I was busy working while you were drinking martinis and talking to a hot chick from Chicago,” Dan laughed.

“Don’t be jealous,”

“Hey dude, I’m married, jealousy’s all I got left. So how did it go?”

“Without sounding too excitable . . . fucking amazing! She’s smarter than she writes, she’s funnier than she writes and if her voice could get me pregnant, I’d be shopping for cribs right about now,”

“So . . that’s good, right?” Dan laughed whilst scarfing down a breakfast sandwich and chasing it with a couple smokes on his back porch.

“That’s great, except for the fact that she’s got three kids, and she’s having issues with them because of her neanderthal husband who won’t cut her any slack, and she lives in Chicago, and she’s given up on dating or ever being happy again,”

Granted, there were more exemptions inside that statement than you’ll find on a billionaire’s tax returns, but I was smitten. Me . . smitten. What in the blessed fuck was the world coming to?

“But you guys hit it off?”

“We hit it out of the fucking park is what we did, Tonto. And now I have to slow things down because my mind is gonna jump out of my skull if I don’t,”

“There’s time. And oh hey! I read that Rabbit Hole chick, fantastic shit man!”

“I told you! Now see . . she is crazy. But I mean, how can you not be crazy when you write stuff like that. I’m glad you liked,”

“Loved it. Hey, I’m gonna crash but I’ll call you on my way into work tonight. You gonna be around?”

“I’ll be here,” I said.

“Whoa, this girl really did a number on you,” Dan laughed before hanging up.

I thought about what Dan had said before the gurgling noise snapped me back. I ran into the kitchen to find my dime on the dollar coffee maker dying. I’d been separated for almost two years and had already gone through half a dozen coffee makers since I couldn’t bring myself to buy another Bunn. Never mind that I had the thing for ten years without a hitch, I wasn’t shelling out a couple hundred dollars without a mortgage and joint back accounts to hide it inside of.

I was able to rescue a cup of Joe from the devastation, after which I placed the carafe on the counter and escorted the scrapheap out. I’d scored a writers pad rental less than two miles from my old house and I loved the quirks included at no extra charge. Like the fire escape stairwell that was the only way up or down. It hadn’t affected my business, as evidenced by the many high heeled visitors I’d entertained, so that was good enough for me. And besides, it was the perfect way to bury my hard luck coffee makers. It had become sort of a tradition that I toss the latest coffee machine done wrong down the long set of stairs to commemorate it’s untimely demise.

I went in to grab my smokes and the cup of Joe and I turned on some Talking Heads before returning to the proceedings. I sipped and tugged and then I let go of the piece of shit coffee maker, watching it tumble to its death for a second time inside the early morning.

There was symbolism happening loudly inside that moment, but I was too high to notice.

 

 

 

Matters of Little Consequence

I think God created blogging when he had nothing else to talk about.

I had to admit Dan had gone bulls-eye with his little idea. The 800lb Gorilla was chugging along on nicotine, friendly drinks and unsympathetic satire that offered no quarter for sacred cows. The blogosphere had plugged me into a tantric remedy in which I was writing practically every day. Shop hours would vary depending on the day ahead. Sometimes I would go for an early morning run and then post something before heading out. On other days I would regale in the simple comfit fixtures of a laptop and a well armed Martini after hours. It was Zen capture inside the tear drops of a clock whose purpose now seemed to dovetail its method into my madness.

I was enjoying myself immensely, in spite of the detours that would crop up now that our elbow bending riffs were being held in a virtual forum. Like the time Dan called to tell me Google had taken a shit on our Blogger platform and he had moved us over to a place called WordPress. But just like all the other bumps in the road, this one proved to be quite fortuitous. Because whereas our former website behaved like a rural dirt road, the new digs were akin to an eight lane highway.

Everything was coming back peach as summer moved into fall. My kids were feeling good about how life was looking on the other side of the split. My soon to be ex-wife had met a man on a dating site and things were promising. And I had met a nice girl inside the same week, on the same site as the ex-wife and things were promising as well. For a couple months. After which I got back to dating and black book research.

As far as writing was concerned, I had unlocked a parallel of myself to which had always been a mystery before this time. It was a quicksilver reckoning in which my creative bones were shaking loose, as if pole vaulting over thunderheads.

We’re gonna need a bigger boat

December 12th, 2006 is when push came to shove. It was some time in the middle of the night when Dan posted what would launch the Gorilla from obscurity into a grass roots movement that would end up getting play in a couple online magazines and local radio shows.

It was later that morning, I was doing a supply run when my phone came to life. It was Dan.

“Dude, you checking this shit out?”

“What shit?”

“The blog!”

“Oh, yeah . . the shot of Britney’s front yard. You know what you sonofabitch, next time give me a heads up when you post some shit like that,”

“Sorry to offend your delicate senses,”

“Dan, my daughter listens to Britney, okay? I don’t need to see her business is all I’m saying. I prefer to keep her in my sexy little Smurf collection where anatomy doesn’t exist. And where did you find that pic?”

“I hit on a website when I was surfing around last night for something to write about. We were one of the first sites to put it up,”

“Wow, I always wanted to run a porn site. I guess the degenerate blue ribbon goes to us, huh?”

“Marc, you see the hits?”

“I don’t look at hits, I look at writing. I’m the insufferable artist and you’re the soulless networking prick, remember?”

“We’re at 2,900 hits so far . . . I think we could hit 10 grand,”

“Jesus Christ, that Federline douchebag was right! She does have a magical vagina!” I exclaimed before I realized I was talking out loud in the middle of Staples.

“This is our hanging curve ball, it’s how we’re gonna get known for all the writing we’ve been doing in the dark,”

“As if Hemingway isn’t dead enough,” I whined.

“We have the eyeballs now is how I look at it. And I’ll tell you what man, we’re gonna need a bigger boat,” Dan said before we hung up.

This should have been cause for celebration. But whereas Dan was sewing this latest turn of events into a Matterhorn applique, I was dubious. For fuck’s sake, we’d been writing our asses to the tune of a couple stray comments here and there; so stray were these comments that we should’ve tested them for rabies. It was that kind of virtual desert island shit. And that was fine by me, because the writing was keeping me upright.

If writing truly mattered, how was it that I could write madly for a year and elicit nothing more than a yawn? Meanwhile, Britney simply had to play 21 Jump Street with a mini-skirt to clobber the fuck out of me. I was thinking too hard, and I knew this. Dan was right. Eyeballs were the bottom line to any kind of future for the site, and now we had them. It was time to put on my big boy swimming trunks and pray at the altar of Mary Shelly.

We were looking straight into the eye of a storm, even if we didn’t know it yet.

The Spam Files (Case #4,217)

Spam

Attn:

The sum of $4.5 million. out of your over due total sum has been approved for payment through ATM cash card system after all attempts to pay you through bank, and diplomatic courier failed. The approved sum has been programmed into the ATM cash card which will be dispatched to you through your address upon reconfirmation. I have made several attempts to contact you and this is the 3rd and perhaps the last email to you in respect to this matter. Meanwhile, I received a power of attorney from one SUSAN GERRAD from USA purportedly issued by you asking us to change the fund beneficiary to his name hence we are seeking for your confirmation as soon as possible. to this end, you should Kindly Re-confirm these information to me.

(1) Your Full Names:-

(2) Address:-

(3) Your Phone Numbers:

NOTE: The actual fees for shipping your ATM card is just $105 nothing more and no hidden fees of any sort! Upon receipt of payment the delivery officer will ensure that your package is sent within 24 working hours. Because I am very sure of everything I am giving you a 100% money back guarantee if you do not receive payment/package within the next 24hrs after you have made the payment for shipping.

Regards,

Mr. Dave West

Dear Mr. West,

Where have you been all my life?

Firstly, I must apologize for not getting back to you guys sooner. Yeah . . I received your email about the 4.5 million and then promptly forgot all about it. It’s not that I couldn’t use the ching. It’s just that, I was in the middle of a YouTube marathon of worst skateboard accidents and you know how addictive that shit gets. I’m curious, by ‘diplomatic courier’ do you mean my UPS driver, who parks wherever the fuck he feels like parking without any concern for parking tickets?

Hold up, a 4.5 million dollar cash card? That sounds really fucking stressful. I mean, I freak out when I misplace my Whole Foods club card! How’s about you send me forty five hundred cash cards loaded at 100 k each? Or better yet, forty five thousand cash cards at 100 bucks each? I mean . . once I’m a millionaire, losing a hundred bucks will be like the Kardashians losing a husband, no big whoop.

As for your attempts to reach me? Have you tried calling me? Because to paraphrase my Queen Bee highness, the great Beyonce, if you got millions for me you better put a ring on it.

Let the record state that I have never met Susan Gerrad. Girl sounds very take charge though, so feel free to shave a hundy off my tote board for her, coo?

Imma hold off on giving you certain particulars- such as name and address- because I don’t know that I can trust you just yet. Nothing personal, you understand . . it’s strictly business. If you want said information, you’re gonna have to gain my trust. Like, send me your silliest pic. Share your favorite Waffle House story. And perhaps most importantly, how did you get into this line of work? Was it family? A need to give back? Did you aspire to be on a future episode of Dateline?

Now . . . as far as your Note. I happen to think $105 is an outrageous ATM fee. What are we, in Vegas? I mean . . of course there are no hidden fees. They’re pimping their propers for everyone to see, all brazen like. And again, it’s nothing personal . . but I ain’t down with the whole pay to play scene. Matter of fact, Imma let the late, great Michael Corleone sum it up . . in case you ain’t catching my wave.

 

Do me a solid and send me a month’s worth of Hello Fresh grub. I’m partial to the balsamic pork and the peppercorn steak, but if you go heavy on the carnitas I ain’t gonna protest. I anxiously await your response to my retrofitted arrangement. And thanks for trusting me with such a large sum of money. It means the world to me.

Best wishes,

Pierce Inverarity

John the Baptist

The memories are sketchy. I was maybe seven years old and the teachers had arranged an Easter egg hunt for the class. We filed down the stairs to the yard in the back of the school, lined up against a wall that was bleeding paint chips. The structural integrity of the school left a lot to be desired. It was decades removed from any kind of worthwhile maintenance. The yards however, they were quite lovely from what I remember. We were told it was because the yard was tended to by local parishioners of the church that bordered us, not that we really cared.

All that mattered were the monkey bars, the swings and the see saw which sat in a lonely corner of the yard, away from the plush gardens; almost as if an afterthought in spite of the utility of recess.

The only part of the hunt I remember was finding an Easter egg tucked at the base of a tree. I pretended I didn’t see it, in spite of the bright infusion it threw inside the pale dirt. I was waiting for Patty, who in spite of my best judgment, had become my school girlfriend. Truth be told, outside of the thunder claps of blonde hair that sprouted from her pigtails, we shared no kismet. She thought me a ‘bad boy’ for cursing all the time, and I found it repugnant that she couldn’t do a better job of wiping her nose. Yet somehow, we had forged a strange alliance. We looked out for each other, as if we knew there were struggles we had endured far beyond the walls of a school.

So when I found that Easter egg nestled inside the veins of a big old tree, I waited for her. She hadn’t found an egg to that point, and I felt badly for my gal pal. I remember just standing guard, waiting for her to arrive when a teacher came up to me, bent down and picked up the egg and said something to the effect of,

“Oh for God’s sakes! It’s right here!”

I don’t remember the teacher, but I do remember hating her for killing my moment. And I remember carrying that hate with me for the rest of the day. The world was full of adults who wanted to steal your dreams before they got started.

After school, I was ushered back to the yard with the other kids whose parents schedules conflicted with the end of the school day. For the span of an hour or more, we would entertain ourselves with war games and marbles and school gossip.

Me? I usually just wanted to run, until I got to anywhere else. This entailed scaling a tall, chain link fence that surrounded the yard. After which one of the Baptist kids who volunteered to watch us would have to give chase. My legs were filled with rocket fuel on this particular day, and if memory serves me right, I made it a couple city blocks before being caught.

The kid’s name was John. A tall and lanky, clean cut high school student who never lost his cool. No matter how hard I tried. He must’ve chased me down dozens of times, and never once did he utter a bad word or flash me a disjointed look. He would simply walk me back to the school yard, every single time.

There we were, sitting in exhausted heaps on the cool concrete sidewalk, not saying a word to each other; simply trying to get back to even before returning to the yard. I was a kid who hated adults and Jesus and anything that ever tried to tell me the what’s what, but try as I might? I couldn’t hate John. We walked back to the school in silence as I tried to find a reason to believe in the world.

It was years before I realized I’d already found one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s In A Name?

I am Michonne.

I know, it ain’t the level of bad ass Poe when compared to the likes of Negan or Alpha. But I took a Walking Dead quiz in the hopes I wasn’t found to be their kind of Poe-try in motion. Because let’s face it, once you get past the rock a bye cool shit sounding fascination of saying I am Negan, all that’s left is a frustrated ballplayer who also happens to be a sociopath with PTSD.

Negan has tremendous value as a character, even if Maggie and the gang would beg to differ. It took Angela Kang to flesh out- pun intended- the complicated layers. Here’s a guy who doesn’t flinch when it comes to turning people into mashed potatoes with a baseball bat. And here’s the same guy who goes out into a blizzard to save the little girl of his arch-nemesis. I for one am glad we get both sides of Negan . . . now, and for whatever time he has left. But I’m also a little bit glad I’m not him, from here.

Alpha, on the other hand . . is more evil than an insider trader with a getaway villa. And her backstory tells us she didn’t need no zombie apocalypse in order to become this bitch on wheels. She was already there. She’s more hell bent on fucking people’s shit up than a frustrated Seventh Day Adventist in a shit marriage living in a double wide. The post apocalyptic Alpha harbors not a wit or a wiggle of difference from her previous existence as a serial killer in hiding. She ain’t ever cared. Which makes her the most frightening WD villain yet.

As for these personality quizzes that foretell your apocalyptic self, let’s face it, they’re only collecting intel on a control basis. Because you cannot possibly predict what kind of individual you will morph into once Kraft mac and cheese becomes five star cuisine and prescription drugs replace dead presidents as ching. I relate to Negan in lots of ways- from the leather getup to finding wit in the macabre. And the idea that I might fill out into a sadistic fucker if humanity’s thermostat goes on the blink? I can’t say I would, because I just can’t say.

As for the character quiz I took, I’m Michonne. Which makes total sense from where I am standing presently.

I’m loyal, I keep to a very tight circle and I will cut you loose quicker than Liz Taylor if I feel like you’re messing with the rug that centers my room (Big Lebowski reference). I don’t care what your opinion of me happens to be, until you add dimension to it. After which, we can throw down and I’m sorry, not sorry about that.

My previous iterations were unconventional and yet, there was an abidance to those staples (relatively speaking) just the same. Not anymore. And I dig the fact we can change in such a piecemeal metaphysical fashion as that. Wearing so much more than the one person we were born into. And I dig the idea that we Zen with the one personality, eventually. If we’re lucky.

And if we’re really lucky, we might be good at the one that matters most of all when push finally comes to shove. Because as far as names go?

I like Michonne just fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Heroes Of The Week! Special Edition

We have another first in our Heroes series this week. This is a very special edition that will deviate from the regular top 5, because the story touched me in such a way that it seemed only right to reserve this Friday’s table for only two. This story happened last year, but I am always going to run with something that makes the news? Worthy.

This week’s Special Top 2 Heroes are Bob Kraft and Alyssa Silva. Their story exemplifies hope, faith and our better angels.

I know what you’re thinking. . a New England Patriot as good hero? Two days before the New England Invitational? That there is anathema to the senses of any football fan outside of the 508. But the owner of the New England Patriots is much more than just the “Gate”-keeper to a modern day dynasty. Kraft is also a civic minded mensch whose outreach has helped to make countless lives better.

Alyssa Silva is one of those lives. The twenty eight year old Ms. Silva is a blogger who specializes in creating bold new words like ‘enoughness’. And when she’s not writing, she’s non-profiting (another Silva Special) as an entrepreneur whose mission is to bring awareness to spinal muscular atrophy. SMA affects the motor nerve cells of the spinal cord and inhibits muscle growth. Alyssa was diagnosed with the disease when she was six months old. Doctors at the time predicted she would not live past her second birthday.

Embrace the rough draft. Learn from the edits- Alyssa Silva

Silva has been a frequent guest of owner Bob Kraft at Patriots home games over the years, and last summer she and her family took part in what they believed was a follow up segment for ESPN. During the interview, Kraft and Matthew Slater (Silva’s favorite player) presented them with a handicapped accessible van. These rides do not come cheap, and while her family had been shopping for one, they feared they might not be able to afford it.

Kraft came through with a game winning drive of his own. And it’s easy to see why his organization has been gold standard professional throughout his tenure. Because the Boss? Gives a damn about the people in his circle. Love him or loathe him, that’s how leaders are supposed to behave.

Joy and Pain Can Coexist- That’s when I realized: it’s easy to falter on the false idea that joy can finally enter your life once the challenge has been overcome. But the reality is that joy is ever-present, and despite the discipline and hard work it requires, choosing to see life this way will always be far more rewarding- Alyssa Silva

As for Alyssa Silva, there’s no doubt about her leadership skills. She is twenty eight years strong, with every single day presenting the kinds of challenges most of us take for granted. In a world whose currency is status, hers is the beauty and grace that actually counts for something. The purpose she brings to every single day is one of faith, perspective and a tenacious spirit that has traversed real life odds pretty much her entire life.

We ain’t gonna find a bigger hero come Super Bowl Sunday than her brilliant soul provides. Because winning the day isn’t about trophies and rings. It’s about the ideals you impart for the profit of others, and that is the kind of selfless currency the world needs more of.

That is everything.