The Best Years of Our Lives

Things that You Get Used To
November 30, 2009, 11:19 pm
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I’ve become accustomed to the trip into the town. The train that does not empty, but becomes fuller as it nears the middle of it all. I do the rounds, but I don’t really pay a lot of attention. Passing windows. I’m there to see a friend. This is my only real excuse for getting back into town anymore.

I’ve become accustomed to the drinks and the often unsatisfying food that we share or not share depending on the order. I don’t eat out much. Money’s too tight for anything more than an appetizer at half price. It soaks up what it needs to. This is my only real excuse to grab a cheap bite anymore.

I’ve become accustomed to the conversation shifts. My tide beating against your calm. The distractions that we both encounter. I just mask it better than you do. Or at least I think I do. At the end of it there’s never hostility or resentment. This is my only real excuse to pay attention anymore.

I’ve become accustomed to the years and the days and the idle hours and the myriad of friends and associates that you share. On occasion I bring one to the table and you are warm and ready to receive. I have two close friends that did not cheat me and you’re the one that’s still alive.


What Matters Most
November 29, 2009, 8:31 pm
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It’s a family and it’s not a family. These are my friends and these are not my friends. These are associates of mine.

It’s a job and it passes time. This is what I do when I am not working. These are the things that you do for them.

You’re so close you have no context. You’re inside and you see nothing around you. You want them to feel love.

Kindness and congestion from room to room down the hall hands throw things at people and friends bite friends.

The mediocre are spared the harsh word and encouraged to play their wares to a room of neutral bored faces.

Sides are picked and the stable is loaded with cattle in the horse stalls, pigs sleep with the chickens, dogs run away.

There’s a certain unevenness that causes nothing to stand up for very long. It falls enough to prop itself back up.

It’s fair and it’s not fair. The rule is that there will not be rules. The people are in charge of things that do not know.

Finding the Tastemakers
November 29, 2009, 8:20 pm
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Is it possible that coconut is going the way of licorice? If so, what next? Maybe butterscotch. Sure, butterscotch is still a relatively popular pudding flavor, but when was the last time anyone under the age of 65 actively bought a butterscotch flavored hard candy, or any flavor for that matter? I am curious of how a flavor dies. Is it a universal taste change, a trend, an evolution? Do people really tire of a flavor or is the underlying truth the simple fact that they never knew any better? Maybe they accepted a flavor because it was what they had access to.

I am noticing that there are less and less mainstream things with coconut flavor. Perhaps its exotic appeal has finally been surpassed by its alien texture. I can see clearly that licorice is a dying taste. A once flavorful pinch of sweetness and anise is now relegated, at best, as a ribbed, bendy red candy that bares little resemblance to its roots. So much in fact that it is better known by its brand name than it is by its original content.  When did this happen and who decided it?

I’m not sure that there is any one person that determines when something is no longer tasteful. Somehow tastes move on. The complex or simply the manmade transplants the exotic. The simple hard long lasting sweetness is replaced by a liquid jolt of chemically induced colors and flavors that rev you up as fast as you tumble down. The ancient recipes are discarded in honor of laboratory wizardry and hybrid gums, candies and sweets.

We are always looking for the next big thing especially when we are coerced into believing that what we have is no longer of any value. Maybe folks are finally able to shed what they once had to pretend to enjoy. Maybe when your palate is limited by selection you are none the wiser to the many other possibilities. I wonder if the new adventurous consumers are going to tire of what the tastemakers offer and will someday comeback to what once was.

In Defense of Unusual Outcomes
November 28, 2009, 10:40 pm
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You spend so much of your life trying to forgive someone for things they’ve done. You accept them as they are now and you don’t forget them as they were. Balancing these two perceptions of one person can be draining and confusing. So you move forward you take them in as they are. If you are to judge them or deem their actions, you do it from today forward. Are they constantly retracing their bad steps, are they constantly reinventing themselves, are they standing still? The same could be asked of how you respond to them. Sometimes these possibilities overlap and you find that you both fall into the same pattern of behavior, almost instantaneously, sometimes your respond to their new behavior as if they’re failing again, sometimes you respond to their familiar in an all new way. Any of these can happen and when they do they all lead to the same place. Miscommunication and misunderstanding and missed connections and missed opportunities.

The burden of change can be anyone’s charge, but someone has to be the first to alter. There is no place, no room for pride and absolutism when facing someone that may or may not continue to act the same way. Is amnesia the answer the answer? If both parties approach every situation without any memory of history, then the outcome is even less predetermined. Again, the result may turn out to be the same as they chance for familiar patterns to form is very high as memories do not determine our nature and our nature is what determines our acts.

Nature can be altered, but then we have to deal with the side effects. What if we are familiar with what we know and expect in a way that we are comfortable by that which happens? Simple conditioning that allows us to prepare for what is coming and therefore shield ourselves from further pain. One could step outside of the conditions and throw caution to chaos and approach the situation in a non-traditional manner and perhaps create a new, unusual, unpredictable and possible better outcome. Instead of an equal and opposite reaction, an equal and obtuse reaction occurs in its place. If the expected is replaced by the unexpected then nature takes a turn.

Perhaps the burden is on the recipient. The recipient must,by nature, act in response. Other than passivity, there is only action. If the action is the unexpected by way of the unfamiliar, then the possibility of lasting change greatly increases. Of course, this is babbly and gibberish, but what if more of the unusual occurred in response to the usual? If nothing else, things would be a lot more interesting.

Caribbean Parking Lot
November 28, 2009, 10:17 pm
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I pull up to the local liquor store. Here we don’t need some sort of alcohol beverage control, but we do have to buy our alcohol all in one place. There’s no wine in the grocery stores and no beer at the convenience store. This is a very lively place with a staff that is always cool and calm to the point of appearing tired, but they’re always ready to serve. Their presumed lethargy might have something to do with the fact they are right next door to a little place that packs a big alluring smell. Authentic Caribbean Jerk Beef cooking all day, every day.

When you pull up into the parking lot you see this sliver of a restaurant with burnt out plastic letters boasting simply: Caribbean Cuisine. Most times of the year the spices, flavors and smoke that fills the air, distract you instantly. It’s true and simple cooking from the islands. You might forget why you came.  It’s that gripping. It’s that tantalizing. Out front the beef is cooking. Many times the grill is left unattended, slow cooking as the smell wafts through the parked cars with delicate ease. When the weather is warm and the windows are down you can taste the smoke from a quarter mile down the road.

However, its now the late fall when the air is the thinnest. The aroma is as crisp and clear as the few remaining letters on the sign that hangs above the door. One small grill, a simple out dated charcoal grill out front taking up one parking spot. When a cook is out there, they take up the one next to it. They work like they’ve been doing it this way for years. Probably have. Same recipes, same grills, different parking lots.

Into the Gutter and Out of the Gutter
November 25, 2009, 10:28 pm
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Torn between the gutter and the free hand out. Or were you simply curious? At first you didn’t seem interested, then we couldn’t get rid of you. No one could change your mind or for that matter distract you as you slinked down the sidewalk, ambled across the street and then onto the parallel sidewalk and then right behind us.

Without realizing it we switched sides of the streets and you were right there with us. Still, it was clear that the gutter was calling to you. Something was calling to you. You had this incredible sense of purpose. You were focused on something. I admired that. In fact I envied it a bit. It didn’t matter what you were after you were after something.

We sped up. It’s not that didn’t want to be near you or anything, we were just afraid that if you followed us then something would happen. You would end up in peril and all because you couldn’t stop. And you wouldn’t stop. You just kept going. I kept looking over my shoulder and there you were. Unfazed by my stare.

Soon we thought it best to try and ignore you. Although we were curious, it was clear that it was best if we paid no attention to you. As we got nearer to city center I glanced over my shoulder again and you were a small shadow in the distance. Either stopped or on your way back. I meant you no disrespect, but you can take it as you like.

After we were done we went back basically the same way we came and we saw nothing of you. Did you actually get what you were looking for? Folks who actually stopped for you? Did you find something better? I believe that you found your way into the gutter. Normally that is a cause for concern, but you’ll find your way.

When it is Funny and When it is Not Funny
November 25, 2009, 10:50 am
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If life were not only absurd, but comically absurd then it would make everything a whole lot better. If absurdity really is “everyday life taken to the illogical extreme” then we are living in absurd times. I don’t mean that in a hostile way, it is merely my observation. The only thing that I am concerned about is that things are not as funny as they could be.

We find ourselves laughing at life’s extreme behavior. For example; when a simple intent is blocked by ridiculously inconceivable obstacles and then the hero experiences a myriad of ironic adventures, finally leaving us at least chuckling if not laughing out loud as they bumble away. This is true of any and all things that we witness; love, war, politics, philosophy, etc.

It is particularly amusing when conflicting philosophies meet. The warriors will set up the most meager of camps, abandoning all that can weigh them down; logic, compromise, empathy – listening and hearing. These are not useful when you’re on a one dimensional battlefield where the stakes are high comedy.

What I am wondering is, why is everyday life, which is as absurd as anything we can imagine on stage, screen or in text or song and which we now are bearing full witness to, not generating the laughter it so deserves? The bottom line is that you really only need two things for this absurd farce to work. You have to be able to see yourselves in the story and you can’t forget that you are NOT in the story.

I just figured it out. We are the absurd.