The Words of the Prophets are Written...

There's a picture hanging screw in the wall of my bathroom.

I cannot, for the life, remember what used to hang there. I don't know how long it's been empty. I have a vague recollection that something used to go there but I don't remember if it was art of some kind or a functional item. I don't remember which roommate put it there or when it was taken away. I certainly don't remember if I liked it or used it.

I've been in this apartment for eight years; it's the most familiar of spaces to me so there's no surprise that some of the details go unnoticed. Habituation is a real thing. Our brains just stop paying attention to the things that we see most often. This is not a small oversight, though.

How much of my surroundings am I habitually ignoring? What else is falling beneath my notice? Is it only the familiar things, the close things that bear no thought, or am I missing something bigger? Is this the result of being here for this long? Is it that I need a change or has something more profound happened?

Most bothersome.


Don't Save Me 'Cause I Gotta Save Myself

Like I've written once or twice before, the freelance nature of my profession leads me to work in fits and starts, twelve and thirteen hours a day for months at a time, followed by weeks of unemployment while I seek out the next project. Typically, I welcome this. It's a vacation of sorts that lets me reset my psychological and spiritual mechanisms, unburdened by the stress and shimmy of a buzzing production office.

Unfortunately, the winter doldrums of film and television production often leave me unengaged for longer than I'd like and this is not at all good for me.

When I don't work for an extended period, I float. I loose my center. I become despondent. With little to fill my days but television, blogging, the occasional household chore and extremely long walks, I find myself keeping much too much of my own company. I go into and stay too deep into my own head. I worry. I obsess. I ponder my own mortality. I freak out about my negative income stream. I mull and muse on all the roads not taken. My fickle fears, my silent inadequacies and my petty jealousies make meals my excess attention. I start to really dislike myself.

This last bout of idleness has been both uncharacteristically long and particularly difficult, full of unwelcome surprises, hostile uncertainties and aimless obligations. Plans went astray. Friends turned away. I felt that I couldn't please anyone who mattered and I didn't understand what I'd done to earn the Gods' ire.

I was hired onto a new project this week. They haven't guaranteed me a slot for the run-of-show, just for the next two weeks but it doesn't matter. The gloves are back on and the challenge is afoot. I'm back where I belong, doing what I'm meant to do and all of the minutiae that is best unconsidered can be left thus.

A very dear friend, who's wisdom I trust, worries that I define myself too much by my work, that I'm too bound up in something that should be extrinsic to my sense of self. She fears that my dedication to, my obsession with my work is like an untreated disease or an addiction that will ultimately bring me low. She is probably right but, for as much weight as I give her consideration, I don't know if she understands the alternative.

I've heard that retirement is a killer, that people live longer if they have a reason to get up in the morning, if they have a job to do. I can see now how true that is in me. I'm glad to be back where I belong.

Picture's Up.


Let There Always Be Never Ending Light

He was subtle,

Subtle like a piano from the sky.
Subtle like an extinction impact.
Subtle like a vodka bottle to the face.
Subtle like a young Macaulay Culkin on speed.
Subtle like the 1812 fanfare.
Subtle like a Whitesnake concert.
Subtle like a mushroom cloud.
Subtle like two terrorists brawling in the street.

"You know that thing we do?"
"Where we entertain no one but ourselves?"
"Yeah, I think we're doing it right now."

Two years to the day.


Show and Tell - Until You Go to Hell

Some years ago, I worked the door at a punk rock club. Eighties night was full off college douchebags. Ska night always brought a fight between Nazi skinheads and sharp skins. Boston night always had guys in newsies' caps throwing elbows at kids in Jameson shirts.

As a security guy, Goth/Industrial night was always the best. That group, of which I considered myself a member at the time, doesn't start fights. I got to spend most of those evenings chatting with the promoters and the entertainers, secure in the knowledge that I was going to break no teeth and send no one to jail that night.

Sadly, attendance at G/I night had been flagging and the head promoter was looking for a gimmick, something akin to jacket night at Turner Field or ladies' night at any shitty sports bar. But, something that would appeal to kids that luxuriated in tight vinyl and preferred their techno with a particular accent.

This is when I hearkened on "Give a Pint : Get a Pint" night, a goth-themed blood drive. Anyone who donated blood that evening would get in for free and would get a ticket for a free drink that could be redeemed on a later date.

The promoted dubbed me a genius.

Though, as he explained to me the following week, the Red Cross wouldn't sign off on the idea. Then again, can we really trust the Red Cross's judgment? These are people who won't take my blood because they're afraid that I have Mad Cow Disease.

So much for genius.


A Trail of Blood to Find Your Way Back Home

Some days I think that I live a more interesting life than I should really want.

I've survived two car accidents, a skydiving accident and a bike accident that nearly cost me my leg. I've fallen off a third story roof onto concrete and landed unharmed. I've been hit by a car. I've been questioned by the FBI twice. I've been cliff diving. My house once caught fire. I've been jumped on the street by a quartet of crack heads. I've had a gun pulled on me. And, I've come through all of it with only a couple of scars and more than a few stories to tell.

As of this week, I can add "attacked by a pit bull" to the list.

The dog slipped its master's grasp at the park and took to gnawing on my forearm. She set on me from behind. I didn't even see her coming. If I did something to set her off, I have no idea what it was. Her owner snapped at her and she released. He swore up and down that she's never done anything like that before.

Just to disclaim, I'm perfectly fine. I had the bite cleaned and dressed, and it's healing nicely. I don't hold any animosity towards the dog or the owner.

Just, seriously, how the fuck does this kind of thing keep happening to me?


And Some Days...

...you find yourself in a familiar place but surrounded by portraits of chickens. You're not sure whether today is the first day of the rest of your life or the last day of the start of it. The clouds hang low just to remind you that it's still winter. Somehow, you've been talked into reading a book about all the ways that you don't measure up. You need new boots and you can't help but wonder how long the dog bite is going to take to heal.

Happy Friday.


Debt to Karma - Party for a Living

My current writing project is taking up so much of my life that I feel I've married it.

Government Whip Cracked Across Your Back

While environmental standards, labor fairness requirements and financial regulations have an economic impact, most such arguments against them are pretty slipshod.

Every regulation, ever deregulation, every bit of zoning, every piece of public construction, every road built, every education initiative, every state acquisition, every public referendum, every federal program, has some sort of economic ramification. For that matter, basically everything of any consequence has an economic ramification. That doesn't mean that we scuttle good works for fear of the disapproval of dead presidents.

We have legislated whole industries out of existence and given birth to multi-billion dollar businesses with the stroke of a legislative pen. While the interest rate questions, the credit rating questions, the job questions need to be asked, they need to play second fiddle to what is morally right.

Put another way, public health policies that extend lives aren't putting an unfair burden on undertakers.


Throw Off Our Contentment

What is forgiveness?

I don't mean that nebulous, Xian, let's-feel-good, idea about some greater relief from original sin or somesuch, what hogwash. No, I mean the real forgiveness of the immediate moment, the surrender of all the bad things, the forgiveness between people and between peoples.

If I forgive you, does that mean that I don't feel bad anymore, or does it mean that I don't feel that you should feel bad anymore. Is that an appeasement of your conscience or of mine?

If you move somewhere far off and you forgive me for some long-branded ill, but we never see one another, never speak, does it matter that I've been forgiven, that I don't know?

Is it forgiveness if we agree to disagree or simply decide not to fight over this again? Are we mutually forgiven if neither of us say we're sorry? Is there forgiveness or merely willful ignorance in "Can we just go to bed?" in "It was a long time ago," or in "Our government, in recognition of armistice"?

Can you forgive something that you had forgotten or be forgiven for something you've yet to do? Is forgiveness distinct from absolution; should the offender be obligated to ask for it or can it be given unbidden? Can you decline to be forgiven or is it received simply by the act of giving? If you repeat the mistake, is that forgiveness then void and, if so, was it really forgiveness in the first place? Are we ever obligated to forgive a transgression or transgressor even if we know we don't want to?

Do the rules of forgiveness scale? Can the pardon between individuals become the lenity of clans or the deliverance of nation states? Or, like economics and morality, do the rules of the one fail to fractal into the rules of the many of many?

Does it matter what we've done or should we all be worthy of forgiveness? Is it something we have to earn or does working for amends only cheapen the emotional act? Is it just getting over or is it moving on?

Does any of it matter?

Do you forgive me? Would you, if I asked?


And Some Days...

You find yourself up before dawn, watching joggers on the slick streets, dodging headlights in the mist. January is teasing you with its impression of April while you try to ignore the loudmouth by the coffee shop door. Your shoulders won't unclench; your lips won't moisten and all you really want to do is run, run, run, to the far side of the city and back. You muse on Stephen J. Gould because Punctuated Equilibrium seems an apt metaphor. You've so much time and so little to do but you know you've got some really big decisions ahead, maybe even today.

Just another Thursday, really.


Eat Someone, Blow Something Up or Throw Penguins Through the Air

I want to write something funny today but it's not happening.

I can't ever seem to be funny on cue. I mean, I can be if I'm regurgitating something I came up with in the past. I do that all the time, probably too often as I'm well known for repeating myself in conversation. Friends complain but I choose to think of it as rehearsal for the time that I'm required to defuse a delicate diplomatic situation between hostile nuclear powers with perfectly elocuted tales of self-deprecation.* But, novel and humorous I just can't do in the moment.

A friend of mine is a writer on a well-received television sitcom. She spends her entire work day being funny for pay and I can't even begin to imagine how she does it. Sure, she must have her better and worse days but her entire career is incumbent on her being at least a little bit funny every single day and she excels at it. I'm just plain jealous.

I have another friend who performs with an improv comedy troupe. I've never actually been to see her perform. I was planning on it once but then I realized that she was never going to sleep with me so why was I going to pay twenty-five bucks? Ignorant of her actual abilities, I'm going to assume that she's spectacularly talented, in part because I refuse to presume that any of my friends aren't spectacularly talented and in part because there's the slimmest possibility that she might read this and I want her to reconsider that "not sleeping with Tom" position that she's been holding to.

Point being, I don't know how she does it, either. And, she does it in real time with people watching. I can't summon the will or the talent to earn a chuckle on a given day of the week and both of these friends can do it at will! Where do I get this talent? Is there a pill I can take? An injection to the buttock, perhaps, the kind that my family physician was so enamored of? A class that I can pay for, not attend and still tell people I took? An inspirational video? An ordeal that I can endure, not a terribly hard one, mind you, not firewalking or that thing where you hang from a meat hook, but one of those mushroom-induced vision quests or a killer game of Scrabble? A mind meld, maybe?

Are there other things that people can do on command that I can't? Maybe I should learn these things as well. Perhaps, in those times that I am speaking to myself inside my head, if I tack the word "now" onto all of my thoughts. "Be funny, now!" "Have a great idea, now!" "Fall in love, now!" "Pee, now!"

I just don't have it. I haven't had a legitimately funny thought in weeks and I don't think there's anything that will bring one to me. You could beat me over the head with a rubber chicken, force feed me whoopee cushions, stomp on me with clown shoes and force me to crawl naked over contaminated shards of irony, and I still couldn't get a laugh. Such is my week.

So, a priest, a rabbi, a lawyer, a homeless guy, the devil, Hitler, a horse, six ducks, a midget tambourine player, Grover Cleveland, the Swedish bikini team, Steve Jobs and Dale Earnheart walk into a bar....

*I don't actually have any tales of self-deprecation. I'm an egomaniac; it's just not how I roll.**

** Remind me never to say "it's just how I roll" ever again. I sound ridiculous.