What’s Your Elephant?

I could keep waiting for people to change or I could change and the latter necessarily meant it was time to boss-up with no remorse for the blood in the water.

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It’s been said that to carve an elephant from a block of wood, all one needs to do is cut away everything that does not resemble an elephant.

It would not do to lament the corners of the block or the shavings of wood that are cut away. They are not elephant shaped, so why would you want them?

To hold on to things that do not serve begs the same question: why would you even want them?

I took some time off from writing this blog but now, on a rainy day in Easterville, I have something to say.

It was time to clean house because the elephant had become unrecognizable.

Asking people for things they don’t have with the persistence of a dog scratching fleas is, well, exhausting to say the least.

The definition of insanity after all is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I could keep on keeping’ on, waiting for people to change while time keeps on slipping’, or I could change and the latter necessarily meant it was time to boss-up with no remorse for the blood in the water.

You know what I’m talking about.

If your elephant is integrity, why do you rationalize?

If your elephant is honesty, why are you willing to live a lie?

If your elephant is better relationships, why do you pursue people who are less than worthy of your attention?

If your elephant is enlightenment, why do you stay asleep?

The alarm is going off, it’s time to wake up.

 

Zero Fucks Given: The End Of Brangelina

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Facebook has a major case of the poo-butt.  Everyone is heartbroken over the demise of Brangelina. 

It’s the end of an era, like when the dinosaurs died out and you could no longer buy cars with 8-track players in the dash.

I wonder if they can return all those children? Probably not, but maybe if they still have the receipts.  I mean, it couldn’t hurt to ask. Right?

Anyway…

One time, when I was 24, Angelina Jolie helped me get a job by marrying Billy Bob Thornton at the Little Church Of The West in Las Vegas. I didn’t work there, yet.

The chapel photographer assigned to the case shot a few extra rolls of film and sold the photos to The National Enquirer. This lead to her immediate termination and to my  phone ringing with a job offer. So thank you, Angelina Jolie, I owe you one.

I don’t know why Billy Bob and Angie called it quits. Maybe because she kept rescuing children from atop floating doors? Who knows but here’s some ironic shit, Brad Pitt adopted all of Angelina’s adopted kids after they got married so technically he has to pay child support on them now.

In a similar situation my step-brother, Will, married a woman named Moonshine who was already pregnant with another man’s baby.  When she had the baby, Will put his name on the birth certificate as the father even though his-dad-my-step-dad told him that was a sucker move and not to do it.  Twenty-some years later, Will and Moonshine are still married and have so many damn kids that they have forgotten the first one’s name.  Because he is confused about the nature of responsibility, Will has gotten really fat and miserable.  We don’t communicate.

Facebook may have it’s panties all in a bunch but, personally, I’m not losing sleep over the status of celebrity marriages.  Because why? Why should I care?

When I was going through hard times, getting divorced, neck-deep in financial shit, in serious danger of losing both my house and my car to foreclosure and under constant threat of multiple law suits, did Brangelina express their concern in any kind of way? Phone call? Facebook message? Condolence card? Dinner for two at Taco Bell? Were they there for me in my hour of need?

No, zero fucks given by Brangelina. I feel it’s only fair to reciprocate.

 

 

 

Alternate Outcomes

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It’s strange how the simple things in life go on while we become more difficult. 

-Richard Brautigan 

 

I heard the news today.

He died of cancer.

I had no idea he had fallen ill.

His wife probably did, since she was there and all.

A new widow has flowers in a vase now and many condolences.

And to think I was once jealous of their house.

 

 

In The Way

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Earlier today I found this piece in my Google Drive.  I had saved it there on August 8th, 2014.

I was recently divorced but somehow already involved in a toxic relationship, living alone for the first time ever (at the ripe old age of 38), drowning in oceans of paper and unpleasant memories.

Having never lived alone, I was truly overwhelmed with the magnitude of trying to take care of both the house and the yard plus the pets and myself.  I was hungry too, thus far I had never learned to cook.

And then one day I was alone.

Sort of.

Alone, but all the stuff was still there.

Everywhere.

The good news is that I learned to cook and the bad news is that cooking just added to the mess that I already could not keep up with.

The clutter was about to reach mushroom cloud proportions.

The following story sounds like it’s about stuff – but it’s never really about stuff, is it?

The real clutter that keeps us in the fortress is obligation with no return on investment: toxic relationships are the clutter no one wants to discuss.  Toxic relationships with other people, with our means of earning a living, with outstanding debt for which we have nothing to show.  THIS is the clutter that builds the real fortress.  The toxic relationship that must be addressed is the one we have with ourselves.

I wrote this over a year and a half ago.  I remember sitting in the only clear space in the house, writing it on my Nook because I could not stand to sit at my computer desk.  I was unhappy then but I felt that the stars were orchestrating massive changes, I just had no idea what they had in mind and, frankly, I wished they would hurry the hell up!

It is now January of 2016 and my life is on a completely different trajectory.

While I still struggle to contain the stuff – like unopened mail and such – I promised myself that I would root out the toxic clutter from my life and banish it forever.

I’ve done well.  I’ve been true to myself.  I found an awesome life partner and for this I am particularly thankful.

CLUTTER

written August, 8, 2014

All my life I’ve been immune to clutter. I just didn’t see it, it didn’t bother me. The purpose of empty space was to put something in it. I was indifferent to the clutter until one day, not that long ago, I wasn’t.

I woke up one morning and realized that I was drowning in clutter. It was everywhere.  Where does all this stuff even come from? How did it get here? Most importantly, why won’t it pick itself up?

When I finally started to see the clutter in my environment, I began to understand some other things as well.  For one thing, I saw that all this stuff was literally robbing me of my living space. I could not think or function in my own home and furthermore did not enjoy spending time there. This lead to spending a lot of time and money in coffee shops with wi-fi while the clutter continued to free load off of me, claiming squatter’s rights in my personal space.

It also came to my attention that our external conditions are the physical manifestation of our internal conditions. Clutter is not a coincidence, it means something.  So, for a time, I stopped looking at the house and started looking in the mirror. What’s going on in here, I wondered?

What was going on was a lifetime of out of control clutter.  Mental clutter, intellectual clutter, emotional clutter, personal clutter, professional clutter. It was as if I had never learned to sort things out, never learned to prioritize, never learned to discard things that no longer served me because I feared that I might still need them some day.  Inside was an even bigger mess than the outside!

Lastly, I realized that all this stuff had created a terrific fortress and that I was not at all happy about being trapped inside of this thing.  I not only wanted, but needed, to bring improvement into my life. Different and better circumstances, people, and things but the problem was that the fortress was keeping them away because it was hogging up all the space.  I could not attract better things into my life because I literally had no place to put them!

The first step in getting what you want is letting go of what is in the way.

The Time In Between

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East Coast Ira walks in the leaves of autumn.
They smell like fall.
They smell like frost.
They smell like change.

He travels from one ocean to the other,
but water is water and land is land.
Time is time,
but the time in between has slipped away.

He arrives in the last colors to fade with the sun.

It’s his face in the mirror, but not the way he remembers.
Better, maybe.
Sharper.
These days, it seems, are accelerated.

What’s out there pales in comparison to what’s in here
and seems to stretch into eternity, but just when he thought it would go on forever..
He hears her voice in a shell.
The time, the time is now.
She loves him, the Devil loves him and he remembers walking in the sand with her.
Here, to this spot where water is water and land is land
and the time in between has slipped away.

Books About God

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“It grieves me that you wake up frightened”, sayeth the book about god.

Does god grieve for my fear?

I don’t know.
How would I know?

But I do, wake up frightened that is.
Everyday.
Frightened that the hummingbirds will not come back.
Frightened that while the flowers bloomed and rejoiced in the sun, I looked away.
Hopeful petaled faces waited for me until they could wait no longer.
Frightened that I’ll never find the downbeat to live in real time.
Frightened that I won’t get what I want,
and frightened that I will.
Frightened that I would wake up in an empty space.

The book about god says there is no empty space.
This god novelist sure has got my number.

She knows what I know.

She wakes up in a pool of her own regret and terror.
Everyday she thinks something about this familiar dirty window is comforting.
Something about the dark recess of the house, where the air is still and the little dog sleeps, something about the smell of coffee in the morning seems like home.

But is it?

Is it the one and only,
or only one of many?

She knows what I know
and she still writes books about god.

Stargazing

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East Coast Ira sits on the world, the star of a constellation he cannot see.

A blue dot in the eye of the serpent or an apple from the tree of knowledge.

He waits for the sign of the cross, searching for life in his lifetime.

Peace happens for eternity out there beyond the clouds.

The lay of the land is changed by the weather while the sun burns bright, even when he’s not looking.

 


Midnight In The Ocean

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I played a song as long as the highway. Which lover are you, Jack Of Diamonds?

“It’s very sunny in here”, he said. “Well”, I replied, “maybe you should put on a hat.” And he grinned at my bright idea.

Hundreds of miles passed me by, until pink jet trails scratched the sky, and minor chords welled up that would not be subdued.

“Your messenger is here”, he said, “watching me from the window.” East Coast Ira was brought up to believe that reptiles were not meant to roam free in the house but on this special occasion he let it slide. Red touches yellow… he thought, hmmm. “Don’t think that because you just now saw it means it wasn’t there the whole time”, I told him, “because after all, no one invented electricity.” He reached out to click off the lamp so we could be alone.

I pressed on until the the black highway met the black sky and Ira sat in a black chair like midnight in the ocean. “It’s dark in here”, he said. “Well”, I replied, “maybe you should take off your hat.” And again he grinned at my bright idea.

“How fast are you moving?”, he wanted to know. “That all depends on your point of reference”, I said, but he had stopped listening.

I sat very still while the stars turned a circle and East Coast Ira began to shudder. Alone in the dark, but still observed, he found it very pleasing.

Just keep driving, I said to no one. Suspended in space and without concern, I considered the puzzles to which I was the missing piece and the various front doors that waited for me to come home.

Coffee With Dean

“Some people credit Abraham Lincoln for freeing the slaves but I blame him.”

Dean looked at me with his most sincere face.

Yeah…, you probably shouldn’t tweet that.”

It’s a long standing tradition; an ongoing contest to see who can say the most offensive shit in the most non-nonchalant manner.

Dean sipped at his coffee and took a thoughtful look out the window.
“There’s a fine line between credit and blame”, he said looking back at me to see if I was following.
I waited for him to meet my gaze and added, “Hashtag, emancipation.”

Dean snorted on his coffee a little bit.

“I had it all planned out for us this morning” he said. “Had the house to myself for, like, four hours. I had visions.”
“Why’d you let your kid stay home from school then?”
We were sitting in a Starbucks because fate was laughing at our plans.
“She says ‘I’m gonna stay home to spend your last day in town with you’, what am I supposed to say to that? No??”
“Yes, you’re supposed to tell her to go get smart, at school, where she belongs.”

“So why haven’t I been hearing from you lately? You don’t call, you don’t write.”

“You’re the one who ran off to Memphis”, I said.

“Yeah, that seems to be the general consensus, that I ran off.  Still doesn’t explain why I haven’t heard from you. Maybe you don’t need me anymore since you spend all your time bangin’ Vince.”

“I told you already that was one time, months ago.”

“In your car”. He always likes to throw that part in.

“I don’t see what the locale has to do with it.”

“So tell me,” Dean leaned forward, eyes sparkling the way they do when he thinks he’s onto something, “at what point did you decide to throw in the towel and become a cougar?”

“I am NOT a cougar! I had a cougar moment, there’s a difference.”

“A cougar moment in your car”, he added again.

“You’re hardly one to talk”, I said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“How old is Kelly?”

“26. So?”

“So Kelly is three years older than Vince but you’re four years older than me which makes you a man cougar plus one.”

I can only imagine that the good people sitting around us were sufficiently horrified and confused all at the same time.

“What?!?! Noooo, men can’t be cougars.”

“They can, and you are.

“So that doesn’t explain why I haven’t heard from you. Who are you bangin’?”

“Technically, no one. So, what did you say to Coleen?”

“Nothing?”  But he knew what I meant.

“Yeah, you did. You were all excited to tell me the big news that you and Coleen were no longer together and I didn’t see how that was news since you’ve been divorced for over a decade, remember?”

“Oh that. I told her that Kelly is my girlfriend now and that I’m with her.”

“Unless you’re in another time zone. It’s not cheating if it’s in another time zone.”

“No, I’m not like that anymore.”

“No? What did you have planned for this morning?”

“Well, that really has no bearing on the situation… Just so we’re clear.”

“Right. Just so we’re clear.”

We were clear.

“So you told Coleen ‘game over’ and she just said ‘ok, tee-hee’?”

“She says she’s ok with it on the phone but then she hangs up and sends me all kinds of mean texts.”

“I can’t imagine why… What did she have to say about Carrie? I mean, you were engaged to her.”

“She didn’t know.”

What?!?! Are you shitting me? She didn’t know? Where did she think you were sleeping?”

“I told her I was crashing at Mark’s place. Because we would be getting out of the Blue Moon so late, we’d just go to his place after because it was close by.”

“Seriously? And she believed that? You know, I told you when you would say ‘she knows where she stands with me’ that, no, I don’t think she does. Oh my god, I was sooo right!”

I just went out and bought a whole new wardrobe that I kept at her house. I…”

“Oh. My. God!!! You cannot even say anything about me being worse than you! Ever! “

“What?”  He was all smiles and innocent puppy eyes.

“What?!?!   You had a 2nd wardrobe? Oh my god! I’ve never done anything like that.”

The good people around us were getting up and leaving.

“Oh come on now, you would’ve if you had the chance.”

“No”

“You totally would.”
“You can’t convict me of something I would’ve done if I had the chance. This isn’t the Minority Report!”

“Come on…. You know it’s true. You would totally do that if the situation presented itself. I get all my evilness from you. So where are we gonna go? Can we go to your office?”

“I guess, but I only have chairs”

“Or we could use your car. We’ll just park in the driveway and hope Coleen doesn’t come home in the middle of the day.”

“I dunno about that.”

“Why not? You didn’t have a problem with Vince in there.”

“Stop it”

“So what happened? I thought he was all over that shit?”

“Yeah, he was, once, and then he grew a conscious.”

“He had a moment of clarity?”

“Yeah, after the fact. And then he was all ‘Wahhhh, I don’t feel right about this because you’re married‘, and I was like ‘well isn’t that fucking convenient for you?!?!‘”

Dean is laughing so hard he has to set his cup down.

“You are such a man!”

“What?” My turn now to look innocently puzzled.

“Do you hear yourself? You are such. a. man!!!”

“He sleeps around you know, I’m a little worried to be with you now.”

“Stop”

“He is a guitar player and all.”

“Stop it.”

“You know, when you were working at Aztec Lodge, spending all night by the pool tripping on XTC, I never said any shit like that to you. I was never all like “eeee, I don’t know where you’ve been. You might have some fucking cooties!”

“Did you just say ‘fucking cooties’?”

“Yeah, I’m busting out all my words on you.”

“You’re using all your sen-tences.”

We were both laughing too hard to keep talking.

“So where are we gonna go?”

Later, on a chair at my office, I held his face in my hands, “it’s been 20 years, you know.”

“Can we have another 20?”, he asked.