Sept. 1-15, 2002

Cagey  Pt. II

09/15/02  12:25 PM          

          I guess I should tell you about my mom.  I mean, there’s really not much to tell, but I can hear the questions forming.  Mom worked at Safe-Rite Fuse, Inc. in Quality Assurance.  You know those stickers you see on packages:  “Certified OK, by #314”?  That was my mom, good old Inspector #314.  She collected random samples of fuses out of every shipment, checked the amperage it took to make them fail, and then placed one of those little stickers on every package.  I know this because of the Kids @ Work program.  She was excessively enthusiastic about it.  It would “help me decide what I wanted to do with my life.”  So early one morning, she drags me out of bed to watch ten hours worth of the joys of manufacturing.  Thrilling stuff. 

          Anyway, I guess what I’m getting at is that we didn’t see each other much.  She was gone when I woke up, and after school, I spent a couple hours behind a counter in a video store.  When I got home, supper was on the table, and mom was usually in her recliner sleeping through prime time sit-coms.  It wasn’t that she didn’t care.  I mean, she asked me how I was, how school was, that sort of thing, but there never seemed to be much to tell her.  Nothing I could put into words anyway.  

          Funny now that I think about it.  Most of the time mom was asleep when I saw her, but I barely remember seeing Brett sleep after he came back from Kent.  He did of course.  I mean, he had to.  But he was awake when I left, he always got the mail, and was always up when I got home.  ‘Awake’ is sort of a relative term though.  They say getting high and sleep are both altered states of consciousness.  His eyes were open, but I’m not sure if he was ever actually awake.  Evidently, he was awake enough to get the mail and go to work everyday.

          A few days later I walked into our room, and Brett was sitting there as usual with his house of cards.  I started to put on my shoes and noticed the letter on my bed. 


Mrs. Foster,

          I would like to speak to you at your convenience about Eric.  He has been experiencing what I believe to be panic attacks in the classroom.  It is nothing to be overly concerned with, as they are more frequent among teens than you might imagine.  However, he is a bright student, and I would like to discuss some methods you can use at home to help him gain perspective about himself and alleviate some of his anxiety.



Joseph Burk


          “He’s right, you know.”  Brett was working on the third tier of his house.  He placed the seven of diamonds on the tower and stopped to take a hit.  I rolled my eyes and started tying my shoes.  Brett trying to be a father-figure.  That was rich. 

          “What would you know about panic attacts?”


          “What.”  He was looking at me again.

          “Imagine a pyramid.  Get a good picture of one in your mind.”  He went back to the next layer of cards.  The ace of spades.  The three of hearts.  The jack of clubs.  I stuffed the letter in my backpack and started out of the room. 


          “What!”  I leaned my head against the doorway.  God, I wasn’t in the mood for this.

          “What would that pyramid look like if you could see all of it, if you could see every side of it at the same time.?”



Wanted:  Birthday Suits


     Google search words, "Birthday Suits."  Were they looking to buy one?  Wanted a different color, or perhaps a different size?

Completely unrelated, but . . .

Can you say ?


Cagey - Part I

09/14/02  7:52 PM

I watched my brother building a house of cards through the sticky sweet smoke.  He sat cross-legged on the bed directly across from mine, his left forearm resting on his thigh, and a ceramic one-hitter shaped like a budding lotus cradled in his palm.  In his right, he gripped a disposable lighter with his ring and pinkie fingers, and the queen of spades between the thumb and middle.  His apron lay folded beside him on the bed, its shiny red and white embroidered logo of Mama’s Truck Stop looked strangely three dimensional against the greasy black cotton.  Brett’s B.A. in philosophy qualified him for a number of things, among them apparently, was a job as a nightshift dishwasher at Mama’s. 

Music posters covered the walls of our room.  All the staples were accounted for:  The Wall, a Led Zep Swan Song, Are You Experienced?, The Bends.  What was saturating the room, though, was something from one of Brett’s classical compilations.  Anymore, he only listened to classical stuff while he was high, or getting high, or thinking about getting high, which is to say, he rarely listened to anything else. 

“Think about one person you know,” Brett said, leaning two cards against each other.  “Maybe you don’t know them anymore, but someone you knew once.”  He paused to re-pack and fire up the pipe.  “Think about a perso. . .” his voice erupted into coughing.  I watched the house of cards tremble on his bed, and he took a sip from a Styrofoam cup.  His blued eyes fixed on mine. 

“Think about everything you know about that person - every single little detail.”  He placed another card on the tower.  “Now, think about where you’d be without them.  How would you be different if you had never met them?”  He tapped the ceramic lotus on the ashtray and the tower shuddered again.  “Think about that the next time you meet someone.”

“I gotta go to school.”



“Don’t look at the sky when you go outside.”

I rolled my eyes and picked up my backpack.  Outside, of course, I immediately looked up and watched some cirrus drift across the late May sky.  Bastard

Thinking back, I realize that probably wasn’t the most normal way to start the day, but then again when you’re a junior in high school nothing is really normal.  It was a habit, or rather, a ritual we followed.  Every morning while getting dressed I’d hear the back door slam.  Every morning I would put on my shoes while Brett espoused some bit of inconclusive wisdom over the strains of Rachmaninoff or Vivaldi.   

At first, my friends thought he was cool.  He was 26, had a motorcycle, and was perpetually high.  That alone should have put him up there right next to Jim Morrison.  The problem with Brett was, you couldn’t just buy a dime and leave.  You had to smoke some with him.  You had to talk to him.  No.  You had to listen to him.  Brett didn’t make much selling unless there was a drought, and then they would stop by, one by one, nervously smoking and trying to remember their prefabricated excuse for leaving.

“Dude, your brother is fucking weird.”

“Must have got some bad shit up there at Kent.”

I tried to laugh Brett off as some kind of a joke.  Dismiss all the stuff he told me in that raspy voice.  It was only his voice, after all, that got to you.  Not just the mellow rasp, but the way he exhaled all those incoherencies as simply as if he were stating the price of milk.

You tried to forget, but it always came back.  In the middle of trying to solve some stupid quadratic equation on the chalkboard, or giving a report on The Battle of Wounded Knee, I’d begin to hear his voice.  Sometimes I could hurry through whatever I was doing, other times, the battle in my head would be too overwhelming.  My thoughts tumbled over his.  The sweat would trickle down the inside of my arms.  My chest constricted, refusing to hold air until I could stagger to the hallway and put my head between my knees.  Panic attacks.  That’s what the counselor called them.  I was just going through the “Spotlight Stage.”  Teenagers think the entire world is watching them, and I was just getting overwhelmed with it.  I just needed some perspective. 


What's he doing in there.

09/13/02 3:20 PM

     Seems some nasty little bug decided to take some R and R, and my body is his own personal Holiday Inn.  (Gives new meaning to the Hotel Illness, eh?)  Sore throat and my entire body feels like . . . Imagine that by some twist of hellish fate you are the lone security guard assigned to protect the Lip-Sync Boys from 50,000 screaming girls.  A wink, a smile, and the quivering mass tramples over you like you were last month's Teen magazine.  That, is how my body feels at the moment.  

    If you need me, I'll be in bed having intimate relations with Nyquil and her cousin, Cepacol.


Cheap Thrills

09/12/02  8:39 PM

     I always wanted to cover the walls of my bedroom with my albums growing up.  Unfortunately, my idea didn't even register on my mom's thermometer of coolness.  So, after all these years I finally made my own wallpaper.


The Emperor's New Clothes

09/11/02  10:07 PM

     I am slowly developing a serious hatred of clothes.  Yes, clothes.  You have to wash them, dry them, and then fold or hang them.  All that trouble and care, and then you are expected to actually wear the damn things.  Open the closet, grab a shirt and pants.  Oops, there's a wrinkle - now you have to iron them.  In the summer its a never ending battle to keep them from fusing to your sweaty skin, and in the winter . . . you guessed it, you have to wear MORE of them.  

     And shoes - oh how I loathe thee, you putrid sweat-mongering little foot bastilles.

     Tomorrow I'm going to work naked.  Free as the day God made me.  Au naturel.   And what if this little stunt of mine should catch on?  Everyone would be frolicking down the streets in their birthday suits.  All the women at the perfume counters in Nordstroms, that waitress at Hawkeyes.  Eventually I'd go to work and all my co-workers would be . . . Oooooh.

     Ok, so what'd I do with that iron?



What do you love?

09/11/02  6:01 AM

Your mother, father, brother, sister?

Your children?

Give them a hug or call.

That brunette that smiles oh so shyly?

The one you think is untouchable? 

Ask him/her out.

The view of the city, just before dusk?

Ice cream or concerts?

Treat yourself.


Love your freedom?

Do what you love.


Why My Friends Drool Rule

09/10/02  8:13 PM

     A friend I hadn't really talked to in a while IM'd me.  We're funny like that.  We barely speak for lengths of time and then suddenly we have a big conversation and everything is just like when we left off.  No love lost, no "Why haven't you called?"  None of that crap.  It's not a superficial relationship - there is just some kind of unspoken understanding.  Were both semi-antisocial.  Actually, not anti-social, just selectively social.  We don't always want to be around people, even friends or family sometimes, but we don't feel the need to justify our desire to be alone either. 


Merchant of Madness

09/09/02  11:09PM

     Vincent Price called for one of the dean's today.  No, really. 



"Hello, may I please speak with ________."

"May I ask who's calling?"

"Certainly, this is Vincent Price."

"Heh.  Got a cold?"

"Excuse me?"

"How's The Tingler?"

"Young man, I'm-"

"Please hold."



"Erm . . snicker . . uhh . . ."


"Uhh . . . A Mr. Vincent Price is on line six-zero."


     When I was growing up we heated with a wood-stove in the basement.  Suffice to say, in the winter the entire family followed the TV into the basement, and the other rooms were used as mere passageways, or not at all.  On the weekends, my mom and I would watch all the old movies on PBS.  Mom falling asleep in her chair, and me peeking out of my bean-bag and blanket cocoon at The Fall of the House of Usher or The Pit and the Pendulum.  The pleasant horrors of childhood.


I am lazy, watch me link.

09/08/02  8:27 PM

     Take a box (not a grain, but a box) of salt and head over to Clark Hornbell's.  Rather abusing amusing.  (Link via Muffin)


     Eric reposted a spooky little gem of a story.  


09/07/02  7:51 PM


I remember



minute moments


hot skin


boiling sheets.


I remember

gentle thrashing


soft curves


wet sighs


sparse air.


Somebody get this man a spork!

09/07/02  2:54 PM


Restructuring the Blogsmos

09/07/02  1:24 PM

     I was going to write about the current state of evolution the Blogsmos has reached, but as usual, Dawn has already delivered eloquent commentary about the attitudes of Their Royal Blogness towards we mere knaves.  There is, as they say, no such thing as bad publicity, and I certainly have no desire to direct any more attention their way.


Hard to Look Cool in Glasses, Pt. II

09/07/02  11:24 AM

     Re-worked the site to eliminate the frames (if you haven't noticed, that is a good thing).  Haloscan seems to have recovered from the juvenile attacts, and so I have re-installed the comment section as well.  


All the Trouble in the World

09/06/02  8:56 PM

     It struck me today, in the midst of a conversation, that all the problems, disagreements, and philosophies of the world can be catagorized by two basic questions:

1)  Do you believe in free will?

Obviously, there are things out of our control, but do you essentially believe you have the power to control, and are subsequently responsible for your actions?

2)  Does the end result automatically justify the means?

Does a 'good deed' (i.e. ending world hunger, etc.) warrant any action to achieve that result?  Example:  Would you be justified in forcing everyone to work specific and predetermined jobs if it would end world hunger?


     This is oversimplifying, but essentially it seems to hold true.  The problem, then, seems to lie in the fact that people rarely live consistently in accordance with their views.

      Quite possibly, I am overlooking something here.  If so, leave a response in the message board.  Love to hear from anyone on this.


Faust in the Real World

09/06/02  2:08 PM

     The selling of the soul does not always happen in one pivotal decision.  Often, it is the slow yielding in what are seemingly minor struggles.  A yielding so slow that no betrayal is apparent until one day the cock crows, you look in the mirror, and realize you have become everything you didn't want to be.



09/05/02  6:52 PM

     Here are two post to make up for my apparently misplaced sense of humor lately.


NerdyGirl's observations on soda-pop culture.


Fush's nametag delight.


     Also, just in case you haven't noticed, I added a message board.  Now, you too can be a voice in my head.

     Although there are only 3 votes in the poll, I'm kind of surprised . . .  I rather expected to see a consistency of opinion. 


"And like sands through the hour glass . . ."

09/05/02  2:01 PM

I've been reminiscing a bit lately - proceed with caution.

     A lifetime ago I had a friend.  She was, perhaps my best friend.  Early on, her stunning beauty and alluring personality convinced me that I would be more likely to replace Keith Richards in the Stones than to date this smashing lovely.  Accordingly, I resolved to be thankful for the friendship we shared, and to not introduce anything as combustible as dating into the mix.

     It was a good long friendship.  We saw each other through a number of specific tribulations that appeared ever so serious at the time.  Mostly though, we just helped each other through life.  A nudge, a note, a hug, and alas - a smile. Little signals that let us know someone was in our corner.

     One day I was at a mutual friend's house when she called.  Somehow I got the phone, and after a while she inquired why I had never asked her out.

     Stunned, I was.  Amazed . . excited . . .depressed.  Literally shocked into silence.  A lifetime of chances passed through my head.  And yet, the chance was gone.  In my dense shyness, I had missed the first landmark on the path to the Holy Grail:  An intelligent, funny, & beautiful woman.

     She married, had a beautiful little girl, life moved on, and we lost touch.  Things may or may not have worked out between us, but that isn't really the point.  And what exactly is the point you ask?  I could surmise it by reciting some well worn quote about taking chances, but instead I think I'll just end with a question:  What chances have you not taken that you still regret?


Oh yeah, one more thing . . .  SMILE FOR ME BABY!!


Polls R Us

09/04/02  10:29 PM

     I've posted a poll (lower right) about something I've been curious about for some time now.  I indicated heterosexual relationship simply because I didn't know how else to get the info I was looking for with the tools I had to work with.


Judging People By Their Wish List

09/04/02  5: 46 PM

     Browsing through blogs, I always stop to scan a person's wish list.  Quite interesting, really, the mental image you can construct from someone's wish list.  Books are easy - they practically spell out a rough list of hobbies, self-help goals, and religious/spirtiual interests.  

     What about appliances?  What's the scoop if they have 10 different devices for cleaning on their list?  Do they not have any means of cleaning at the moment, or are they just a clean freak?

     Single-cup coffee makers, single-slot toasters . . . 

     And what does the desire for 5 TV's suggest?  

Wow, I'm starting to scare myself.  Next thing you know I'll be stalking someone, and somehow I don't think my stalking would go over as well as hers.


09/04/02  4:10 PM

      So, I'm sitting in class this morning and the topic of home schooling comes up.  I now give you a direct quote from one student.

     "I don't think parents have the right to remove kids from society."


     I should start by saying that I'm not necessarily a big fan of home schooling - there are many problems (including social interaction) that are typically not addressed by the majority of parents who choose to teach their children at home.  

     Nevertheless, there are some serious problems with this statement.  If a parent does not have the right to mandate where their child can or cannot go, who does?  The government, that's who.  The government would then be the sole determiner of where and how the child is educated.  

     In the first case, where the parent is dictating where their child is educated, it is only the child's freedom that may be impeded.

     In the alternative, there is the possibility that the government will infringe upon both the parents' and the child's rights.


09/04/02 7:20 AM

     Evidently, beggars can be choosers after all.  With a mind like that, I'm suprised he is not working for the government.


Deja vu Redux


It's funny how you can post something and days or weeks later you will see a similar post.  Thought patterns converge to similar points, they are just slightly out of sync chronologically.  First it was my Fear and Loathing in the 80's and Dawn's Nuclear Dreaming, and now it is Big Stuff on Big Wheels and this one by Tim Blair.


Islands Without Continents

09/03/02  8:22 AM

        I can't seem to wrench myself free from the entanglement of laziness this morning.  I struggled valiantly for nearly an entire 3.5 seconds before turning traitor and joining the idle band of rogues in their tirade of sloth.  

        Before my flight yesterday, I went to this little treasure of a bookstore and picked up some used hardbacks to add to the already monstrous mass that is threatening to overtake my room.  Another visit like this and I'll be forced to sleep in the bathtub.  

Three Steinbeck's, including a compilation of his short novels

A collection of Hemmingway's short stories - which, with the exception of The Sun Also Rises, IMHO are the prizes in his Cracker Jack boxes of writing.

One Joseph Conrad - I'm consumed by curiosity about his writing without narration by the delphian Marlow.

One by H. A. Overstreet that examines individual, emotional, and psychological development of the person.


        It is this last that I'm pondering at the moment.  He states:

". . . growth into psychic individuality depends upon having linked [oneself] in one way or another with [one's] environment."

The psychologically immature, have few such linkages- and these routine and noncreative.

The reactionary, is one that has more linkages with the past than the future.

The neurotic, is one that is linked to an environment not really there:  to dangers that are the projections of its own fears; to slights that are the projections of its own self-doubtings.


        I'm not disagreeing here, but his premise is pregnant with suggestions.  

Psychological individuality does not exist in a void

        If psychic individuality is dependant upon linking oneself to the environment, then one's individuality directly correlates with his or her relation to others.  Similar to Saussure's semiotics, the individuality (or meaning, if you will) of the person lies not strictly within the person, but in the difference between that person and another.  

Individuality is not pure independence.

       An Emerson quote comes to mind:

It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; 

it is easy in solitude to live after our own; 

but the great man is he who, in the midst of the crowd, 

keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

        Perhaps more of an extension of the first, than a separate principle.  We, as individuals, need others.  We need relationships, if not for physical needs, then at least for psychological ones:  We need others to establish our own identity.  Typically, I have staunchly denied that I need others, and my life would outwardly appear to be proof of this - but I'm slowly coming to realize and finally admitting to myself, that I am not an island after all.   

Other Voices



Ugh . . .  and Stuff

09/02/02  10:50 PM

        Can you say tarrd, boys and girls?  Didn't get the room finished, but all in all a good weekend - hope yours was the same.  Having a little trouble concentrating at the moment - please forgive me my sprawling scrawling.  

        I swear, Jim Breuer was on my flight to Columbus.  I'm not positive, I mean he wasn't imitating goats or anything, but he had the munchies now!  He seemed calm enough, until the flight attendant started handing out those little baggies of peanuts.   It's sad sight indeed to see a grown man beg for peanuts and bottled water.  

Other Voices