Spring!

downtown street in springSpring is here! I know that because there is still frost on the grass in the morning, and it is wicked hot in the afternoons.  Flowers are have poked their colorful heads out of the moist and fertile ground along with every worm that had ever lived when the rains come down. It seemed to happen overnight. The trees and grass were once just barren, yellow and caustic and then the next morning, green! The Earth, overnight, had repainted itself.   Colors, now wild and free, sprung to life like a Mother Nature on a twelve hour makeover show.

 

I love the spring. There is so much promise in the spring! Of the seasons, spring is the best. Fall is good also, but spring, pound for pound, has much more to offer. OK, summer has beaches, and that is awesome also, but spring! Spring folks! You cannot do better than spring. Fall has some cool leaves, but it also has a darkness. Winter is just behind that door and could be knocking at any time. If you live in the North, you know how quickly the snow can arrive. Pretty leaves with the chance of a horrible snow or the ability to see colorful flowers blooming and getting to go to the beach? With spring, you can have it all!

Spring is growth. Spring is hope. Spring can be a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. Spring can be a torrent of rain. Spring can be tornados. Spring can be hail. Spring can be violent one minute, and gentle and tender the next. Spring is a slap in the face. Spring can be a glass of water tossed at you. Spring can be an ex-lover that teases and leaves you in a parking lot to watch her go off with another guy. Spring can be a dominatrix that is both cruel and kind. Well, you get the picture.

 

I am so looking forward to enjoying this spring. I look forward to the windows down in my car, riding along on the long and lonesome highway. Wind blowing in my hair! Oh, and PENDOT fixing all the potholes left over from winter. Lane closures. Traffic backups. A giant flashing arrow pointing to the lane that I was in, and I moved, thinking I had to get into the other. Cars honking. The stink of asphalt as they start laying down the new roadway. Oh, did I mention allergies? Yeah, spring is a wonder.

Snow Again, Again

lonely winter roadOn this lovely first day of Spring, God drops the bullshit card, AGAIN. You thought you were getting out? Only six more weeks from your furry friend saw his f*ing shadow? HA! HA! He/She has the last laugh! If you are not in the northeast, then this blog means nothing to you. Your weather, for all I know your weather is like the 86 degrees expecting in Florida or something more presentable for Spring. My brother be damned! I am glad you are trying out your pool for the first time this season. I am stuck shoveling snow. As I watch the white wisps of frozen precipitation outside my window, longing for Bing Crosby singing White Christmas. (cue: record scratch) It’s f*ing Spring! The poor birds have been chirping outside my window since February. They are sick of this fluffy stuff too! Get on with it! Move on to the next season! LET IT GO!

Mother Nature is being a jerk. There is just no other explanation. She is being like a bully on a playground that just took your kickball and isn’t going to give it back until you do something degrading in front of all you classmates. We all need to take a stand here. We need to draw our name in the snow, or something that we are not going to take it anymore from this weather nemesis. Snow is for winter. Spring is for those stupid flowers and rain. No white stuff! OK, maybe getting a free Rita’s Italian Ice today is permissible. We are all built on principles, and I am sure if Mother Nature is reasonable, she will see it our way. NO MORE SNOW OR ELSE! That is just the way as it has to be. I mean what could we do? Stop buying Promise margarine? We could all pretend that we do not care, drive crazy in our 4X4’s, oh, wait, there are people that already do that. Moreover, I pray that they get into an accident. Doing sixty on snow and ice just asking for it. I know that makes me a bad person but just once I’d like them to flip horizontally, say, twelve times, just to shake up their brains. No one else would be harmed in this scenario. In the end, the driver would realize they are a dick. I do not need you to prove to me your masculinity while you torment me driving on my bumper. Yes, I have a small car. I am not over compensating like you in your quad cab, Hemi diesel with four tires on the back, so you can pick up your little princess at dance practice.

However, I digress. Snow go. It is Spring. It is time for green stuff and birds that don’t look like homeless people in New York. And flowers; colors! We need to get rid of the blahs. One other thing, let’s not jump right into Summer. I like Summer when it is Summer, not when it is Spring. Like sex, I need a little foreplay before I go full tilt. Just a suggestion.

Snow Again?

lonely winter roadSnow. Who needs it? I walked out of my apartment this morning at 6:15 AM to see a fresh blanket of the white stuff all over. “WHAT!” I thought. Not having been alerted by cell phone, by the weather man on TV and over the internet you could imagine my surprise this morning. I would have worn warmer shoes! I would have mentally prepared myself beforehand to dealing with slick roads in my newer car before step out the door. Snow? I do not like driving in the snow after smashing my old car a few winters back. I’ve built up anxiety even with just the thought of precipitation. I took a deep breath and stepped carefully to my vehicle. Although the temperature was above freezing the snow remained as a crunch under my shaky legs. From the parking lot, I could tell the snow fall started recently. Two other spots had been covered over with the white stuff. The air was quiet. It was no more than an inch, but it still was a nuisance. I had to clean off my car!

The drive to work was filed with weather as well. There were those that didn’t seem to be affected by the blowing of snow directly toward us. Others like me were bare-knuckled, holding the steering wheel in the glow of the alert signs flashing “Winter Weather Ahead Please Slow Down.” Cars were whizzing past me, kicking up debris in their wake, trying to prove something to themselves. I took it slow, stayed in the lane, and tried not to make any violent control movements. Snow is a strange thing. It can be good and provide a firm base to drive on. Other types of snow can be slick. I think I lucked out venturing out in the beginning and thus missing out on the slicker parts. Taking my time, I did not run into issues although I did see some police cars about my journey. I was fortunate to be on the opposite of the roadway.

At this point, you probably think it was just a little snow. There are worse people out there. So what! I would have to agree. I like snow in movies. I like snow when I do not have anywhere to go, have the fireplace roaring, and snuggled with my honey under a warm blanket inside. Snow outside? Shoveling? Cleaning? Ugh! It is days like this that make me think of how much I will bitch about the heat when it becomes summer. I am not happy with the weather unless the temperature is somewhere in the middle.

I am looking forward to retiring to Key West. Rain I can handle and gentle breezes from the coasts. I look to the future when I can sit in my hammock and stare at the sky as the clouds drift in and out of view. Warmth. Humidity. The day I can leave this cold will be awesome. Will I miss snow on Christmas? We have not had snow on Christmas here in years.   No biggie! I can live without it. I will also not miss the slick ice, cleaning the car, and worrying about making it to work in the morning.

One good thing about today though. After today, there is one less day of winter weather to go.

Puppies!

three puppiesI do not know that I should listed as a blogger, as I have not written anything on here in almost a month. I can blog, should something strike me as something I need to get off my chest or just talk. I like to blog. I like to write. I think my absence on here is more symptomatic of something else. There are plenty of things I could bitch about, but let me leave that to others that could better form the argument with better prose and wit. I, instead, will keep my lukewarm emotions to myself. Let’s talk about puppies!

I like puppies as much as anyone else that doesn’t like puppies. There! I’ve said it! Don’t get me wrong, puppies are cute. They can be the most affectionate. I am just not a dog person. I’ve had a cat, Audrey for the last six years and her much more appealing.

I do not have to clean up my cat. She is self-sufficient. I do not have to walk her to go pee or poop. I clean her litter box, and she is happy to go again. If I do not feel like cleaning the litter box, she does not get stopped up or have accidents all over the place. She still goes in the litter box. Yes, I’ll have more to clean up later but that is a small price to pay. It all goes into the trash and out the door. I am very lucky to have such a clean cat. She takes care of herself. Sometimes she tries to groom me also by licking my hair or my arm.

Dogs, on the other hand, need to go walking on a regular basis. If I had a house instead of an apartment perhaps I would feel different. Having one of those hinged doors that allow the animal to go outside on its own would make it easier. I do not like the idea of standing in the rain while the dog gets the right feeling where it wants to shit or piss. With the cat, there is a contained location for her excrement. Dogs will piss or shit anywhere they feel it is necessary. My Audrey does not do that. She is a regal animal. Don’t get me wrong, she does sit in the middle of the living room licking clean her ass or hoo-hah, but she does it with grace and dignity.  Any animal that can always land on their feet when the fall suddenly and walk away like they wanted that to happen is regal.

My cat can be affectionate and the affection she gives me is not too much. She likes to sit in my lap, lay on my shoulder while I am trying to sleep in bed, and at my head when I sit on the couch. She likes to rub up against any of my dark pairs of pants. Other times I do not see her. She is off sleeping somewhere. You cannot get her riled up about something unless she wants to be. If she sees a squirl on the porch of a bird, she is running to it like she was a fire person on the way to fire. You cannot expect to her to understand what you are saying to her. She meows when she wants to. She purrs when she wants to. She snuggles when she wants to, not so with a dog. A dog is jumping for your attention the moment you get home. It constantly wants to play or do something- anything!   That is nice sometimes but not always. I like my down times. I like to veg out. I like to relax. Getting home so Fido can go can drag me a mile to piss and shit in his favorite place is not what I am looking forward.

Perhaps with the right dog, in the right situation, I could enjoy having a dog, but in my situation right now a cat is all I could handle.   Maybe two cats?

 

Holiday Music

Old Music Notes   RetroI love the holidays! I look forward to the holidays, thinking of all the special food, getting reacquainted with old friends and even older family, and of course some people seem to go out of the way to be nice. It’s fun to see people think twice as they race out the door to hold it open just enough for me to get through. It warms the cockles of my heart and does wonders to the holiday spirit. And who can forget all those Rankin-Bass and Charley Brown Christmas specials on television. Nothing like that at any other time of the year. Classic movies! Cold weather! Snow! It’s all a feast for the senses. Nothing attacks the senses like the Christmas holiday music. No matter where you go, this holiday music bombards you as soon as you enter any public location, turn on the radio, or even if you walk into your own house. Music is so burned into your brain, it starts to play inside your head, even when it’s not being performed externally. Christmas tinnitus! Sometimes there is no stop to it.

I find this most annoying when I’m trying to fall asleep. Lying in bed, starring at an empty ceiling, my head is somewhere hearing and imagining 32 feet and 8 little tails running through the snow. Or perhaps it’s a Latin tune of a little boy singing “Mamcita, donde esta Santa Claus?” My head is weary of all the songs. “Jiggity jig, hee-haw, hee-haw, it’s Dominic the Donkey.” The songs all are playing in my head as well as old standards: Silent Night, Oh, Come All Ye Faithful, Silver and Gold, Here Comes Santa Claus and others. There must be a way of stopping this. There must be a way of getting these songs temporary out of my mind. “It’s the most wonderful time….” AHHHHH!

Deep breaths. I must keep my focus. It’s only a few more days left till next year at this time, when those songs get dragged out. “Simply having a wonderful Christmas…” There is much more to the season than just these songs. There’s the spirt of giving. “Children laughing, people passing….” NO! Must not give in. “Smiles on faces as folks rush home with their presents….”  STOP!

Well, I hope you don’t have same issues. May your holidays be happy and not blue. “I’ll have a blue Christmas without…”   Don’t get stuck in the same trap that I have. Limit the music. Don’t let it over take you like it has done to me. Be wary of department stores playing tunes, because you never know what your brain will trap inside itself, and bounce around your head like a rubber ball, never getting out. Medication can’t help you; you are on your own.

Merry Christmas. Buon Natale. Joyeux Noel. Frohe Weihnachten. Kala Christouyenna. Mele Kalikimaka. Kellemes karacsonyi unnepeket. Feliz Navidad. Prospero ano y Felicidad.

Labels

band-closeupIf there is one thing I don’t like are labels, because labels have a tendency to still stick even after the meaning for the label has gone. When I was a kid, every kid had a label, whether they wanted it or not. Some were good: brainiac, nerd (I suppose that is OK now, not so much back then), or jock. Other were not so nice: nose-picker, butt-picker, asswipe, skeeze, slut, whore, doofus, dumby, idiot, fat, roly-poly, blubber, elephant, kiss-up, brown-noser, skank, etc. You never knew where these labels would come from, but I imagined there was a 3M plant somewhere working overtime to keep up with the dumb-mand. When I look back now with my 46 year old brain, we were not very creative with our sharp tongues. Take for example Shakespeare. Now there was a man that could give a good put down, and still make it seem nice. Of course, most American’s believe that anything spoken in the King’s English is bound to sound better.

“You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!” –Henry IV Part2

Can you imagine a child’s utterance to bully such words? Confusion abounds! “I tickle your catastrophe!” First of all, using tickle and catastrophe in the same sentence is bad ass. To put them together in this manner, beautifully ugly. The bully would no doubt beat the child to a pulp, just for not understanding such words. Next, the g-word would come out, because everything that is not understood is automatically listed as “gay.”   Now that’s a big word used quite frequently, from children. Still I hear it from adults as if it was a norovirus wrenching from their mouths. Again, from not understanding, who they might hurt. Gay is a tough label to drop, if you aren’t gay. Even if you are gay, and not loud and proud, it’s a tough label to move forward from.

I was mistaken on more than one time for being gay, in my life, as well as teased by family and friends, for my dainty ways. I’m sorry that I like show tunes and the theater. I don’t like to get my hands dirty (because I didn’t like to hear my mother yell at me as a child).  I wasn’t considered manly because it took years for a mustache to grow.   You maybe can imagine the anger and frustration that this book cover had to endure, because its contents were different then the label placed on him.

One incident at a Philadelphia Phillies game that I won’t soon forget. My friend Joe and I went to a Phillies game, he a Baltimore Orioles fan and I a New York Mets fan, both dressed in our respective team’s jerseys and hats. The New York Mets were in town, and we got tickets. For most of the game, other than for someone above us shouting, “Mets suck here!” everyone was nice. I didn’t have any trouble, until I went to the restroom. The Mets were losing, and there was slim chance that they might win, but being a fan for many years, they were not having a championship season. I slipped into the restroom and stood at an open urinal, when this guy comes up and stands in close, in his Phillies jersey, yelling every racist, sexist, gay-hating bile you could possibly imagine directed at me, the “queer” wearing the New York Mets jersey. I was standing away from him facing the wall, but I could hear others in the restroom becoming riled to his politics.  He was bating me. I was scared. Part of me wanted to punch him so fucking hard with all the pent up anger from my childhood, but he and his buddies would have had me on the floor beaten to a pulp. I instead, resigned to my situation, I said nothing. I finished up, despite his flailing arms in my face, and walked away. And then he spit on me as I left. Let me make this clear, this person was at least thirty years old, spitting like a two year old. He was obviously drunk, but that is no excuse. I made it out of the bathroom, and I went back to my seat, rattled.

My estranged nephew came to visit my parents two weeks ago, and I heard the same bombardments from them about him. I hate to hear it. I hate to think that my parents are still levying this level of anger, and for what? What has he done that is so horrible? Haven’t they grown up through years learning to accept people? That hate leads to hate? My dad talked about my nephew’s “wimpy” handshake. Dad, if you don’t like his handshake, how about giving him a hug? A big hug for your grandson, since you haven’t seen him in ten years, regardless of what you think of my brother’s ex-wife, or the whole divorce that put a wedge between the two of you. Perhaps you forget how “wimpy” my handshake was, and how easy for you and my brother to trample on my feelings, when it pleased you. You weren’t making me tougher, you were making me older.   Now, my parents see me in a different light. Why would you afford your own grandson the same chance to be himself?

Labels are bad. They are no good. Save them for your Holiday Cards, and not for you friend, relatives, and enemies.

Ugly Christmas Tree?

charley brown chistmasReading, PA, a town from whence my mail arrives, hit the national headlines regarding an “ugly Christmas tree” placed at the town square at 5th and Penn Streets. Immediately the local press dubbed it a “Charley Brown” Christmas tree because of it sparseness. It’s been called all sorts of names from pathetic to wimpy. Almost immediately, businesses collected $1000 dollars to get a “real” Christmas tree to display down the street, so Reading wouldn’t have to deal with this “shame.” They got another tree and placed at 2nd and Penn Streets.

There was a knock at my parent’s door, last week, in the midst of dealing the death of my aunt. It was my brother’s ex-wife, and my nephew, who I haven’t seen probably since he was two (did I mention that he’s 18 now?) The divorce was ugly, and despite my mother sending Christmas and birthday cards to my nephew, and a reciprocated occasional picture, there was no other contact. They drove down from the Poconos to see the living Charley Brown Christmas tree, and decided to stop by.

A Charley Brown Christmas is just one of those things that I just have to see, or it doesn’t feel like Christmas to me, along with It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street (1947 version), A Christmas Story (on for 24 hrs), and Scrooge (1951, with Alastair Sim). Does it really matter? It doesn’t to me. If I don’t see any of them my world is not going to crumble into dust. My question is, does it really matter to Reading what their tree is? The tree is just a symbol, just like the menorah that stands next to it. Will Christmas stop because of this shitty tree that the local government has put up? No. Will faith be influenced by this sparsely populated piece of wood? No. So why? We are told the gift doesn’t matter. We are told to “remember the reason for the season.” How does getting another tree promote that?

It was thought, way before Christianity, that pine, spruce and fir trees would ward of evil spirits and illness, so people would decorate their homes with boughs over their doors and windows. Their belief were driven by the fact that these trees made it through the winters, and that reminded them that green plants would return in the spring.

It wasn’t until the 1600, when Germans started the “Christmas” tree tradition. In the 1830’s German settlers brought the tradition to Pennsylvania. Because they were considered pagan symbols by many, Puritans outlaws them. It wasn’t until 1846 when Queen Victoria and her family was illustrated in the London News standing around a Christmas tree, making it fashionable to have one. By the 1890’s Christmas trees and ornaments were becoming an American tradition. So what does this do to the ugly Christmas tree? Nothing. It makes me wonder where we’ve come when our symbols have more priority then the message it is supposed to be sending; peace, love, charity, and kindness.

http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees

Audrey

AudreyFor those of you that know me, I have an eight year old gray, longhair cat named Audrey. I’ve had her since I separated from my then wife six years ago.  My friend, DeAnne, was looking to unload it, and she knew that I’ve always wanted one.  It was Kismet.  Audrey took a while to get used to me, but I didn’t push her, and I think that we’d become close, and only a boy and his cat could ever be, which really means that over the last six years we’ve tolerated each other.  She likes to stand on my chest when I try to sleep, or lay on my side when I’m sleeping.  She has other moments of snuggling, but then she takes off to who knows where, and comes out when she needs food, water, or some more petting.  Otherwise she’s marching around the living room like we are in her domain, and silly humans should get out of her way.  I really don’t know why I like being shit on like this.  Maybe it’s my own personality?   I really like Audrey, and in the time she’s been with me, up until last week, she’s gotten out one other time, early on.  Last week she snuck out, past me and my girlfriend, and we didn’t even notice.

At first we thought she was just hiding when we got home that night. As I said, she isn’t around a lot, and she gets held up, like some junkie in a crack house, sniffing on cat nip she’s pillaged from unsuspecting cat toy.  Just an aside, I had a remote control mouse that disappeared.  I don’t know where it went.  I’m sure she has some secret hiding spot.  So back to the story.  In the morning she didn’t respond when I shook her morning treats, which she never,  Never, NEVER misses.  My girlfriend and I tear apart the house.  Not finding her, my girlfriend Kim starts to me about her cat that had cancer and hid away from everyone because the cat knew it was going to die, and didn’t want anyone to watch.  Just what I wanted to hear.  Remember we didn’t see her leave, so my imagination ran rampant.  Catnappers?   A careless apartment employee came in and Audrey ran out?  Aliens?  Someone of another parallel universe found a wormhole and came in an took her?  Did she learn how to use the toilet and flush herself to freedom?  Did she breakthrough the screens on the windows?  So many possibilities, but at about 10 AM we still weren’t sure she wasn’t still there (hiding in the going to die scenario).   Kim tells me to make up flyers.  Reluctantly, I did, and plastered them on the apartment complexes’ mailboxes.  I notified the apartment office as well.  Then there was nothing but to wait.   Kim thought a drive around the neighborhood might help.   I didn’t want to know that my cat was lying on the side of a road after being flattened by a bulldozer.  We were planning to go out for dinner that night, but we decided to hang at home over much deciding.  At  7 pm we got a call from a neighbor that saw my flyer; Audrey was on his patio.  I went over, picked her up and took her home.  And so I thought it was over.  She got out, but now she’s back.  Wrong.   A day later, she got past me, Kim, and Kim’s twenty-four old daughter, Sarah. It was quick!  I saw her at the door, and then she was gone.  There was no stopping her.

I ran after her into the darkness. I stumbled around the building looking for her and calling out.  Nothing.   Sarah brought me some treats, and I went around the building shaking her favorite treats.  Nothing.  WTF!  Here is a cat, someone I love, as my friends would attest to, and the cat has no response.  At that point, I was done.  If she wants to die outside, I was done.  I went back inside, angry, bitter, and feeling like I just been on a date that went well, but then the woman didn’t respond back to my phone calls.  In my defeatist mood, I opened the door, to Audrey, taken in by Sarah.  “Take that!” The cat is saying,  “I thumb my nose at your love and caring!”  How could I not take it personal? I feel like a fool.  How much more does this cat want from me?  What do I need to do to make this cat love me?  For her to run to me when I speak her name?

Well, I brooded. Yes, I brooded.   I didn’t pet her the next morning.  I didn’t even give her, her morning treat.  “HA!  I laugh in your general direction!   El gato!  Pussy cat! Fishy! (an ironic name I call her, even though she really doesn’t like fish)   Furball!”  I went to work and buried my feelings, into activity.  I asked myself all the questions I could.  “Did I treat her badly?”  “What did I do?”  “Why would she run?”  No answers, only more questions. I came home and she was there.  She didn’t try to escape and I came in and changed out of my tie and khakis, and slipped into sweats and tee-shirt.   I had a seat on the couch.  Audrey sized me up, both of us staring at each other, with the look of anger, frustration, etc., our whiskers saying all that needed to say.  She wander up to my leg and brushed against me.  I didn’t want to reciprocate, but when she jumped into my lap, it was impossible. Oh, she’s too awesome to be mad at.  She makes me smile when she purrs or when she jumps on me when I sleep.  And so what if I could build a whole new cat from all the hair from vacuuming my apartment.  She’s mine, and I still love her.