Playlist of My Week

iTunes-playlist-4If my week were a playlist here’s how it would have sounded…

1. Cellophane – Sia
“Look at me. I’m such a basket case, delivered to you wrapped in cellophane, waiting on your doorstep every day.”
2. Perfect Memory – Remy Zero
“Remember how they tried to hold you down and we climbed those towers, and looked down upon our town. And everything you hoped would last but just always becomes your past.”
3. Looking Through Patient Eyes – PM Dawn
“Well, define my love with attitude. Open up your mind and it will sing to you. You can always tell but I know remorse so well. I left reality early due to the lack of love.”
4. The Time of the Turning – Peter Gabriel
“It’s the time of the turning and there’s something stirring outside. It’s the time of the turning and the old world’s falling. Nothing you can do can stop the next emerging. Time of the turning and we’d better learn to say our goodbyes.”
5. Little Piece of Me – Melanie C.
“Something you can talk about, that’s something I could do without. I’m not like you. I can’t fake it the way you do.”
6. Snowblind – Rob Thomas
“I think we’re snowblind. We’ve had a hard time, and we can’t see where we are. Spending our whole lives walking the same lines, and it doesn’t seem to stop.”
7. Perfect – Snoop Dogg
“Girl, you’re perfect. God made you, I wonder if he kept the mold, or were you only made for show?”
music_playlist8. Whole Thing – Peter Gabriel
“Whole thing will still go on without you. Something will still be there to move me, ’cause my own thing is always to inspire you.”
9. Straight Up – Paula Abdul
“You are so hard to read. You play hide and seek with your true intentions. If you’re only playing games I’ll just have to say bye, bye, bye, bye…”
10. Control – Poe
“Well, you may be king for the moment, but I am a queen, understand. And I’ve got your pawns, and your bishops, and castles all inside the palm of my hand.”
11. Yellow Flicker Beat – Lorde
“This is the start of how it all ends. They used to shout my name, now they whisper it. I’m speeding up, and this is the red, orange, yellow flicker beat sparking up my heart.”
12. Hope You Got What You Came For – Olly Murs
“I guess we started something we just don’t know how to start. I guess we’re brokenhearted every time we have to part.”
screen-shot-2014-09-22-at-1-17-21-pm13. This – Rod Stewart
“There’s a few that find love on Sundays down by the sea. And they wash clean like angels high above the waves so free. I have no words to say to you. I have no dream to take you to. I have no ring for you to kiss. Baby, all I have is this.”
14. Come Undone – Duran Duran
“It’ll take a little time. Might take a little crime to come undone. Now we’ll try to stay blind to the hope and fear outside. Hey child, stay wilder than the the wind and blow me in to cry. Who do you need? Who do you love when you come undone?”
15. The Journey – Dolores O’Riordan
“When I was lost I saw you pointing towards the sun. I know I’m not the only one standing here. And in the darkness I was walking through the night. I could see your guiding light very clear. This is your life; this is your moment.”



black-and-white-from-the-series-line-form-color-1951Light-skinned hues
Such masquerading
Multi-faceted lies
And straightened hair
Slaves to a culture
They should despise
This dark slides light
Leaving shadows
Such soul depressions
In filthy lines
Waiting for change
A tacit acceptance
The status quo
Shifting in sand
Bleached out and drying
These solid ghosts
Trying to blend in
While the world shifts
And new lines are drawn
As quiet as forever
Passing them by
Like twinkling stars
In the blink of an eye.

We Don’t Need No Water

HouseFireYou know those exercises where you’re asked questions like which book you would take to a desert island, who would you want at the end of the world with you, or if you could talk to anyone living or dead who would it be? I used to read magazines that had those kinds of quizzes in them about what readers would do if certain situations presented themselves, and I always had a difficult time coming up with answers that could be calculated by the grid following the quiz.

But the one question I generally found easy was what I would save from my house if there was a fire and I was of sound mind enough to think rationally about what physical things are important to me. So, I sat down recently and thought about those physical things currently in my house that I would want to survive a fire, and I forced myself to narrow it down to the top five — in no particular order — (assuming all people and animals in my home are already safe)…

samsung-Galaxys415. My phone. Normally I would just assume it’s always in my pocket, but since I charge it at night it might be sitting in my living room. In which case I would grab it first because it is honestly my connection to the outside world. Maybe I rely on it too much, but in an emergency it’s probably the best way to get help for myself and my family.

4. My laptop. All of my writing projects are accessible through my computer, and indeed several of them are in files on the computer itself or on my flashdrives. So I would definitely cheat a little bit and include my flashdrives in this particular choice. They’re plugged into the USB ports anyway, so they count.

3. My journals. I have a series of journals that I’ve written in for practically all of my adolescent/adult life. Maybe this is cheating too, but I can’t separate them in my mind or in my process. My thoughts and commentary over the years SBC_spc-14257are encased in those books, and I couldn’t bear to let them burn. Just like my journal on here is personal to me, these are as well.

2. Our honeymoon scrapbook. Most married couples have a wedding album full of all the pictures from their magical day, but we’ve never been traditional. My wife spent a lot of time and energy creating a honeymoon scrapbook because we never had that traditional wedding but our time in Ireland was incredibly memorable. She captured those 8 days perfectly in the scrapbook, and I would like to save it.

1. My U2 collection. I’ve been collecting U2 music and memorabilia since 1993, and I think it defines me more than pretty much anything else. Those CDs are a part of my DNA, a record of my history through lyrics and sound, and even though I transferred all the songs to a digital format there’s something to be said for the physical albums, for the books, and for the concert tickets that tell my own story.

Of course back when I first asked myself that question, when I was thirteen years old, the answers would have been a pack of gum, the Back to the Future video tape, my record player, my Phillies ballcap, and the letter that I wrote to Alyssa Milano but that I never mailed. I wonder where that stuff is now.


Complicated, Part 3

“Every battle worth remembering isn’t one where victory was assured before the combatants even fought. It is instead the one where every small advantage was of the utmost importance, and where heart won out over sheer force.” ~Theodicus

Fragmented. I guess that’s how I feel most of the time, like I’m being dragged one way while heading in the opposite direction. And sometimes I imagine myself exploding into little confetti pieces that float and scatter across the room like a snowstorm in full bloom. I know what I need to do to get things together, to fix myself, but I can’t seem to allow the solution to get through to this thick head of mine long enough to make it a reality, which is funny because I’m apparently a good listener who offers sound advice. Why can’t I advise myself?

But someone once told me that it’s not about how we feel in the moment but how the moments strung together affect us when we look back on them for guidance. That’s the problem with so many people these days, and me included. Taking time to delve back into the decisions we’ve made in the past isn’t a part of our DNA. Instead we spend so much time and energy trying to imagine a better future for ourselves that never comes to pass because we have never adequately dealt with the past.

A few years ago I emailed my first girlfriend, my first fiance, and also my first love. I don’t even know what I was seeking from her, honestly. We hadn’t spoken in nearly 12 years, and when we had last talked I think we said all that needed to be said, but I had this nagging sense that there hadn’t been closure, even all those years later. Perhaps it’s because I modeled one of the major characters in my first novel after her and I wanted her to know. Or maybe it was because I felt the need to model one of my major characters after her in the first place. It just made everything complicated again when it didn’t need to be.

She emailed me back saying how difficult our breakup was for her, and how she felt like she couldn’t talk about it with anyone else, how it had irrevocably changed her, for both good and bad. It made me think about myself and my own history of relationships since that one ended, and my feelings are exactly the same. Something inside of me shifted, or shut down, or something, when we ended, and I had absolutely no idea what it was at the time or for the 12 years afterwards, but when she wrote me back it hit like a sledgehammer. Hope had died.

Sure, I still went on dates, and indeed I even got married, but somehow I felt like there was really no hope for me, no hope that I could be happy again like I thought I had been way back then. And in the process I shut out many people for large periods of time, most notably my wife when I needed her the most, because I felt like she was too good for me, that I didn’t deserve her. It made everything so difficult when it didn’t need to be, when the proper reaction would have been to just accept her love, but I was so broken and I didn’t even realize it. That’s why I really emailed my first love, because I needed an answer to that question, a reason for the distance, and there, in the end, it was staring me in the face.

It’s just so interesting how that happens when we least expect it, and when we maybe need it the most. At the time I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t mature enough to face up to what was right in front of me, but when she sent me that email it all came tumbling back in a rush right when it was necessary for me to own it. And yes, life is still so complicated, and I don’t have even a quarter of the answers to my myriad of questions, but at least I’m still asking them.


@ Bank America

thThe bank teller looked at me over eyelashes thick with mascara, a look that I usually find tacky but on her it worked.

“What can I do for you?” she asked me in a genteel tone, and in that moment I fell in love. Not the lightning strike kind of love, or even the love at first sight version, but something in between the two, something fuzzy and distinct at the same time.

I said absolutely nothing as I stared at her for far too long to be appropriate, but the smile never left her face. She waited me out with a grace I hadn’t seen in quite some time.

“Is there something you needed today?” she asked, glancing behind me at the gathering line, prodding me forward.

“I need to open a new account,” I squeaked out, embarrassed at the obvious nature of my infatuation. My face turned three shades of red, but I maintained eye contact and ventured a smile of my own.

The placard on the counter said her name was Melody, a sweet sound that resonated with me for many reasons, not the least of which was my affinity for opera. But she didn’t resemble an opera singer. Quite the opposite. She reminded me of Joan Jett even though her hair was shoulder length and the mascara was the only makeup. There was just something in the curl of her lip, and in the smoky nature of her gaze.

“To open a new account you’ll need two forms of ID, and it will take about 20 minutes, depending on your existing bank,” she said, hesitating just long enough before answering to remind me that she was busy. I worried that she would shuffle me off to someone else who I was sure would be competent, but who also wasn’t her.

“And can you open that account for me now?” I asked, trying not to sound desperate, but needing her to acquiesce, needing just a little more time to breathe the same air.

She paused, her mouth open as if about to say something she reconsidered, her eyebrows subtly raised, a questioning glance.

“I can give you my card,” she said, and it was not what she had been intending to say. That much was obvious. But it was what actually came out of her mouth as she extracted a business card from the holder next to her name and slid it across the surface of the counter to me. Our hands briefly touched as I reached for it, and I pulled it away reluctantly.

“Call me and we can set up an appointment,” her lips said, and her eyes followed, those thick black lashes obscuring her gaze but not her intent. In that moment I believed that there could be a chance she might love me too, even though we had just met, and I trusted that instinct in spite of myself.

“I’ll do that,” I said, putting her business card in my breast pocket and turning to go. The sun at noon shone in brightly through the glass door of the bank, freezing the image of her in my mind. I closed my eyes and stood still, letting it wash over me, and letting hope in.



Groundhog Day

groundhog-day-not-free-to-use-or-shareYou know the tradition. It’s Punxsutawney’s sole claim to fame. For just one day every February people from all over gather at Gobbler’s Knob to celebrate the town’s most prestigious citizen: Phil. The groundhog. Now, absolutely no one would know what a groundhog even looked like if it wasn’t for this time-honored tradition. Yes indeed, he resembles a beaver, or as some have said, a giant rat. He’s dragged out, paraded around his “stump,” and he prognosticates for a moment before rendering a verdict…

Six more weeks of winter!

The tremors from that quake continue to shock us for the entire six extra weeks tacked onto what has already been the longest winter in history, or at least until the end of the day on February 2nd. And that illustrious day is a mere week away. Can you believe it’s been nearly an entire year since we got a look at Phil (who is the 20th — or so — incarnation of the original beast), and we’re once again looking for groundhog shadows?

You’d think by now there would be some high tech alternative to freezing our bums off in a tiny little Pennsylvania hamlet with a host of people we don’t know (and who are probably high, to boot), like an app that shows a groundhog sniffing for its shadow. The probabilities could be pre-programmed into the app and we wouldn’t have to leave our homes to get the to-the-moment info about a possible early spring. In fact, I bet someone’s already figured that all out and the app is available in the app store, but I’m too lazy to check into it.

The holiday got an infusion, though, when the movie starring Bill Murray was released in 1993 to much acclaim. Of course it had less to do with the groundhog than it did with the redemption of a sad sack individual. Oh, and with the repetition of a single day. I don’t think Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” will ever sound the same to me again without the connotation of an alarm clock slamming to the floor and the song ending in a crash.

But I love the holiday notwithstanding all the kitschy tradition that goes along with it. I actually spent a February 2nd “chilling” in Punxsutawney one year just to say I did it. That’s not happening this year but only because I know what’s going to happen ahead of time. Phil will emerge from his box, sniff the air like a sage meteorologist, see his shadow (because most times he sees it — check the data), and predict six more weeks of winter. What a bright chap he undoubtedly is, but I’ll leave the joy of his pronouncement to the hordes of people who still make the trek to Gobbler’s Knob every year at this time.

I’ll be checking from the comfort and warmth of my own home instead.


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