Sunday, December 28, 2014

Marital Mirage

A divorce is inconvenient.

My ex-wife has her merits. She can also be maddening. I have equal amounts of my own disorders.
She has textbook intimacy issues that I don't bother to pretend I can understand because, well, who in their right mind isn't cautiously detached from both their medial and lateral strong, associations or acquaintances? Who doesn't have intimacy issues?

However, I can only take her standoffishness and detachments for so long. I am a flower giver. I am a voluntary kiss giver. I offer spontaneous hugs. I am a lunkhead.

Here's the pattern. I let too much slide for too long then I blow. A major WMD explosion 500 mile an hour incinerating, gusting psychotic explosions.

If you've seen me blow, you could say easily ascertain that I am deranged. I exhibit delusional behaviors. I become verbally abusive and impiously profane. The God I don't believe in even gets hectored by me with questions like, "Why me?"

But mine is a slow burn and generally because I take wife's shit on the chin for weeks on end without calling her out on her nonstop passive aggressiveness. I let it build and build and build then kablooey! 

Because she's passive aggressive and because I never call her on her bullshit, my torrential verbal f-bomb blitzkriegs seem to come out of nowhere.

Example--if I've one day misplaced my keys, then those misplaced keys become emblematic of my ludicrous reality.

She can stay cool, remains calms, says "you've only misplaced your keys! Calm down! Only a lunatic would lose self control over misplaced keys."

She takes no responsibility for her uncontrollable stealthy enmity and sees me as the maniac I've become, capable of going on and on with a string of abhorrent spewing which came about for no apparent reason --a tantrum that can generally last about an hour -- a long hour that causes cats to run and hide and dogs up and down the block to howl.

Then I deflate. I always follow my carnage with an intense guilt and remorse.

So, anyway, she couldn't have children, so she settled for her house in America, her US citizenship: she's certified to teach yoga.

She's evolved into a classic northern California liberated woman who teaches 6 -8 yoga classes a week. 

I have outlived my usefulness -- there exists now only symbiosis. She tends to the house (fair enough, it's an investment), she overseas my cats despite threatening to dump them in shelter every time we communicate (which is less and less as time goes by).

And she doesn't like our middle/quasi working class neighborhood. Not too far away is Folsom, where they cook their banana nut bread with honey, three times a day. She has "Namaste" in her Email signatures (to everyone but me)

Now. She wants to sell the house and buy a rustic condo with a lake and mountain view in Folsom.

That pretty much leaves me stranded overseas to pay a mortgage on a house I will never live in. Pay property taxes on a property I will never own. Pay a car note for a car that I will never drive.
Ex-wife loathes me because she doesn't have a mountain view and it's my fault she's stranded in America now with her lifelong dream of having a blue US Passport.

I am not the first North American man who lost his ass and got duped into a marriage because an Asian type wanted the blue passport.

Cats come and go, but so do kittens. And so it goes.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Taxi Driver Meets Death Wish

Anomaly detection -- a Lahorite Pakistani taxi driver who, instead of having prayer beads or a Quranic verse danging from his rear view mirror, had an air freshener, not only shaped like a Christmas tree but with a US flag on it. Acknowledging Christmas (hell even acknowledging St. Valentine's Day) is a jail-able, lash-able offense followed by deportation (unless you're a white guy)

Don't get me started on displaying old glory.

Ballsy motherfucker.

Crepe Crap Out

I went out this morning to brunch with Dr. Carlos but his esposa de sangre caliente did not accompany us which gave us an opportunity to discuss the key to a successful relationship -- husbandly resignation or, in Spanish, maridos tímidas (in Italian American -- no balls).

He's has perfected the art. He's been married once and he's been married for 27 years. I am a daft, slow learner. I've practically collected a wedding ring for each finger on my left hand in that amount of time.

We went to a French restaurant specifically to have their renowned breakfast crêpes. But the Pinoy waiter, in his Filipino accented, high-pitched voice, said, "Sorry, sir, but we are out of crêpes."

As my neighbor would advise, "Brother, you must go with the flow." And that helped to muzzle my impulse to bitch, "How can a crêpe restaurant be out of freaking crêpes?"

The coffee did not come with refills because as we sat down, the first thing I ordered was coffee. It came ala carte. Had I ordered a meal first, it would have come with coffee and refills.

"Sorry sir, but refills only come with meals."

But, but, but -- I was bursting to remind him -- I am now going to order a meal!

Om. "Brother, you must go with the flow."
Om. "Brother, you must go with the flow."
Om. "Brother, you must go with the flow."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Talk the talk, and talk the talk and talk, talk, talk

I have this neighbor now not unlike a neighbor I had in China. A talker. A nice feller, don't get me wrong, but like my friend in Nanjing and like so many fifty-to-sixtyish men I know, they are now men who have flown their last sortie, earned their last trophy, played their farewell rooftop concert, summited their peaks and are now descending. 

They seem to me to be men who fear that at any moment they will be ambushed by oblivion. Whatever it is they have on their minds, knowing they have peaked, "sunt qui summam", now's the time to say it or forever put a sock in it.

He's around my age and brother (as he prefaces every freaking sentence) does he (like my colleague in China) have lots of stories to tell -- none that are interesting mind you. And like my friend in China, he tells me nothing I don't already know. Nothing that gets a laugh out of me. Nothing of interest, really.You could say he is garrulous, loquacious, eloquent in his verbal dexterity. Or you could say he is full of shit.

Why them and not me? I wonder. Why am I more of a listener -- or at least like to think I am?

The ex-pat life can be a lonely one. Loneliness is the trade in for fat tax-free pay checks and free housing. 

Is it that they're at a stage in life when they feel a toxic nostalgia and need to wax it? Are they rueful, affected by enormous regret? Do they just need to spill it all out in order to sleep easier?

Or maybe it is that a man at this age - nearing career's end -- knows he is fading, quickly becoming irrelevant.

It's all behind him. The best of everything. No more reckless, drunken, drug-fueled merriment, No more capricious lawless behavior. No more mind-blowing sex. 

So what's left? Talk There is a hunger it seems to get it all of out their systems while they can still recall the past and can articulate it, however fuzzy they are on the facts.

Me? I like conversation still. I like to volley ideas. And I like to think I have yet to have that one mind blowing sexual experience that will be beyond compare.
Let my epitaph read: Less Talk More Rock.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Honky in the Hood

From the small food store clerks from Kerala, to the dry cleaners from Lahore to Turks at the kebab shop, I get eye balled a lot, eyed out of curiosity perhaps and they all never hesitate to eventually ask, "Where from?" The adrenaline junky I am, I tell them (and they can tell their ski-masked friends for all I care) -- America!

Sometimes, they respond, "America. Good" Other times they say nothing and seem to be absorbing the subjective mental bitcoin, information as a commodity, a chip to be cashed in later should someone who happens by wants to know, hey I'll give you three fitty cent if you tell me where I can find an American.

The nearest other to a honky in hood is my neighbor, a larger-than-life presence from South Africa, a café au lait giant, who shaves his head and who likes to talk. And talk. And talk. Listen? Eh. He needs to work on it. At least he has a pleasant to listen to deep booming voice that comes with a hearty laugh, reminding me of Jeff Holder --you know, the "cola nut, uncola nut -ah ha ha" guy from those 70's 7-Up commercials? 

So within my own frame of reference, from my third floor apartment, two doors down from one big freaking mosque that thunders prayer calls at 3 AM, 4 AM, 5 AM, and several more times throughout the day, rattling windows and scaring neighborhood bin cats, I count just one Caucasoid -- me-- and my Dutch speaking neighbor from Johannesburg who has at least one chuck in the wood pile (something I'd never tell him lest he stomp on me like a cockroach).

On my soundtrack of the mind, whenever I venture out for phone cards, Red Bull, bread, cheese and bananas, as I dodge six lanes of traffic coming off of and speeding towards a freeway ramp, this is the song I hear.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Blog Reboot

There's lots to do in Saudi Arabia. Besides waiting around to die - you can eat, wait for the odd holiday, eat, sleep, eat, sleep and now, I'm bringing back to life a blog that's been in a coma since my car accident a few years ago.

I'll nick a few things from Facebook to try to reboot the damn thing.

Hips and Hopes

The Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal have been mine to see on clearer days, all scratched off my bucket list. Angkor Wat. The base of Everest. The Grand Canyon and once, watching Donald Sutherland running to catch a flight in LAX. All done and done.

But last night, from a Saudi Arabian gulag compound, I finally got to scratch off the do-before-I-die list something I thought I'd only see in my dreams --the mother of all hula hoopers.

Gyrating hips are never a bad thing but there's more to it.

The Egyptians knew and know this. As you see the pyramids along the Nile, sailing past Cairo's silvery skyline on a dinner cruise, served up with your skewered lamb, deep fried fava bean felafel, fatayeer coated with thyme and cheese and spicy aubergines, you are entertained by both a belly dancer and a whirling dervish. 


The Turkic Semazen, the belly dancer and the hula hooper reveal to us the unknowable, that we are in sync with the earth in its rotation as its moon revolves around the it while the earth circles the sun; the sun spinning our island universe towards its unavoidable finality.

Spinning hips confirm our coexistence with the order of the eternal, the continual whirly gigging of the celestial empyrean. 

Buddhists know this. They walk clockwise around a temple, using their hands to spin iconic prayer wheels in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Tibetan men on mountainsides spin handheld prayer wheels. Muslim pilgrims go to Makkah to perform Hajj and circumambulation as they walk seven times around the Kaaba believed to have been built by Abraham. Jewish couples circle each other when they marry. Christians perform ritual prayer in a circle. Hindus believe we are born after we die, live then die again only to be reborn in a never ending cycle. 

We are more than clay. We are made of constantly revolving particles. Protons, cells. white cells pirouetting through our Chakras.

The hula hooper bears witness to the hands of an Architect, extolling the hands of Glory.

And you thought it was just for kids.

Give Peace Something, Anything

Ever had an experience when some song plays in the background, the perfect soundtrack for the moment? 

Happened to me tonight. 

Heading out for a bookstore, I flagged down a taxi and asked the driver in my pidgin Arabic to take me to “Maktaba Jarir fi shura Al Sary “(a bookstore on Sary street). We negotiated a fair price. I got in, sitting shotgun and found it a bit odd that John Lennon’s “Imagine” was playing. 

"Imagine there's no countries”

Usually the taxi drivers listen to Quran on the radio.If I drove a taxi in Saudi Arabia, I suppose I would also listen to prayers on a loop.

Within seconds, Lennon's soft piano chords and voice playing, he asked me the obligatory, “Where from?”. I braved it and told him America. He said, America! – America good, giving a thumbs up. Taliban, very bad. Very bad. 

He had a fair complexion, a fashionable, stubbly beard. I figured (correctly) that he was Tajik or Farsiwan– the second largest ethnic group in Afghanistan who originate from Iran, They're Muslims, but as far as the Taliban are concerned, the wrong flavor. Tajiks are Shia. 

"Nothing to kill or die for. "

We used a mixture of his broken English,my broken Arabic and the tiny, teensy bit of Farsi I know to chat. 

He told me that he had a brother living in Canada, with a Canadian passport and, inshallah, he hoped to join him soon. He worried about his family in Kabul, especially since Tajiks welcomed Americans and worked with them, many as translators, many filling the ranks of the army. He expected as soon as America goes, the Taliban will be back in charge and looking to settle scores

"And no religion too".

.My prayers, for what they’re worth, go out tonight to this young fellow, Isam, meaning the protector.

"Imagine all the people living life in peace"

And as I stepped out of the cab, I tipped him an extra 10 riyals, and the next song up –I kid you not – “What a Wonderful World”.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Top to bottom cleaning today, bleach, disinfectants, mop and glow, trying the rid the place of my scent, my flow of energy--my Qi.The negative energy of a man on a visa wait, made weighty by the importance of my role as financier of an investment. Former spouse stays behind to manage the house, a house I never wanted in a country I never plan to live in again. Then, well, someone has to take care of my cats. What a long, strange trip it's been.

Saturday, February 08, 2014


In the Arabian Gulf, life is tolerated and endured as western ex-pats yet some discover that life under theocratic dynasties is not so bad. Just remember that what you say must be said with great discernment and discretion.I imagine to same holds true for China.

When are you escaping this God forsaken place? You hear this question a lot in Saudi Arabia but less so in the Emirates. If people enjoy sticking around during 10 day breaks and don't flee to Bangkok first chance they get, then it's probably a cool place to live.

Friday, February 07, 2014


I cannot say that my life has or has not gone according to plan. That would draw a conclusion that I make them, plans, and I don't. I pencil things in, which is not the same. By doing this, I do not have to breathe into my  life taking action. I don't have to make shit happen. I can't say that when one door closes, another is unlocked. I don't see the ebb and flow of opportunity as walking in and out of doors. I don't live in a world with doors. Departure gates, yes. Doors, no.

In the making of decisions and choosing, I wonder, are you and I the same? For you is life an endless series of problems to be solved? If so, on the other hand, maybe we are not alike. Problems arise and they more often than not require making choices and tough decisions. I am a decide-a-phobe. Instead of making decisions and choosing, I remain a spectator. Possibilities will eliminate themseves. Why give them any thought? Nothing for me is contingent.

See, something will eventually happen.It always does. But when it does, at least I can't say it is the worst thing I could have imagined happening! Understand now? I hadn't planned on anything happening. 


It is once again time for my boot heels to be wandering.  I sit on the sofa in a house where I will soon leave behind an irate ex-wife and 7 cats.  My level of commitment to them all is for me, once again, the grand prize question.

I am a professional ex-pat English teacher who has been between jobs, again.  These past four months have not been the first time I have shifted my life from being over there with many rooms of Ikea furniture, carpets on the floor and art on the walls, moving to here, not so much my home anymore as my country of origin, the U.S.

This routine is the way things have been for years, and it looks as though the routine will go on and on.I don't mind leaving a house full of furniture behind. I do hate the part where I turn friends into people I was used to be close to, people I used to hang out with, got drunk with or sometimes tried to stay sober with.
What can I tell you?
I'm packing. I’ll soon be aloft again. Yes, I won't argue that IT is all about the journey, not the destination. Travel well we are told as it is better than the arrival.Long hauls are always out of body experiences. A long haul reduces my periphery to seismic shifts in time zones, day times and night times, surrounds me with unfamiliar faces and unknowable languages.
All this departing and arriving, and the layovers are made less nerve-racking when I can slip into a VIP lounge . My attitude of gratitude for today is maintained by my Delta Gold Club membership in combination with my 15 hour long haul Delta flight from Seattle to Shanghai. I am entitled to complimentary beverages, all the baby carrots and pretzels I can shovel into my mouth. 

I pray the traveler's prayer. I hope that the lines at security screenings are short and quick and that my hotel in China remembers to send a driver. The hotel driver has for years now been the closest thing I've had to being greeted by a friend or family member's smile. I don't mind it at all these days. Long ago? Yes. Later on? Less so. Now? Shameless resignation.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Well Whadda Ya Know

Bang! The world goes spins around you in a 360 degree turn and the spinning stops when the car hits a concrete barrier; air bags punch you from all sides. And during those two or three seconds, you rise above it all, like, um, you're looking down from above your body and thinking, "I've wondered all my life how it would end. So, this is it. Ain't that something. Nothing special about today at all except I died" this is what runs through your mind. Fearless.

Monday, April 02, 2012

"Worst Thing You Can Do"

This is a visual to go with my last rant. 

The bravado exterior of a killer. The conscience wrestling with its self. I am not part of the lynch mob. Maybe I'm too self centered. However, I'm pestered not by outrage (there is a justice system in place, and I believe the wheels are turning as I write this), but until the system takes action (and it will) I am hectored by my curiosity. Is the shooter conflicted? or is he a socio-path? Does he feel any remorse? I have toyed with the questions on Facebook, but when I do I am pounced upon like Jean Jaurès if I suggest cooler thinking must prevail over vigilantism; I am pounced upon by my left of center to reactionary bone headed far left "friends" who should know better because we are liberals and we see both sides of an issue.

So I tried to make an obtuse (or abstruse) point by using Camtasia to capture this from the film "The Thin Red Line". I didn't receive a comment. I didn't explain much either. Just ran it up the flag pole. Nobody saluted it.

Friday, March 30, 2012


I'll make this brief, as brief as a U.S. network news report on something newsworthy like free elections in Burma or the continued mass -cides taking place around the world (fratricide, sororicide, mariticide, country men-o-cide).

My Friday ritual is to sleep in until 6:45, make sure the cats have been slopped, hang out on Facebook for an hour or so then couch dive to watch U.S. network news.

News. Noun. According to Webster's dictionary I can't say because my Internet connection is slow this morning, and I have to pee, so I can't wait--but I can hold it long enough to rant.

Lead story? Not Aung San Suu Ki's freedom to leave her house and openly campaign which is newsworthy I feel because she is not only a Nobel Peace Prized laurette who has been under house arrest for fifteen years, but because changes in Burma may affect not only Southeast Asia but some countries nearby that we might give a shit about. 

No mention about the upcoming UN rights council vote that may reignite the Sri Lankan civil war--which nobody but Sri Lankans give a shit about but was long and bloody and apparently it ain't over yet. 

Not even the vigilante mobs whose memes call for lynching vigilante George Zimmerman came up.

Lead story: The California lottery

Followed by a story on autism in America. Autism is a serious issue, no argument there. But is another report on socially withdrawn, non-verbal (what we used to call retarded) children newsworthy? No, not in my opinion, not even when the report ends but the story continues in the newsroom when the anchor welcomes a delicious thirty something female doctor to voice her views; not even if wardrobe did slip her into a tight blouse with a plunging neckline did I find the story thought provoking. 

"Thank you doctor for your comments and by the way, nice rack."

Followed by a rising gas price story as America closes in on five bucks a gallon, which in Europe would be considered a reason for frenzied, hysterical long lines at the gas pumps before prices return to 7 or 8 bucks a gallon.

Bullying report. A short film called "Bully". I know I saw this report last week almost word for word except last week there was a Meryl Streep cameo. This week we heard from children who watched the film with a news reporter and when asked, "Is bullying a problem?" answered "Yes. Yes it is."

Next up, after a commercial about a stomach ulcer medication that was more warnings why you should NOT take the medication than reasons you SHOULD take the medication, a short clip of George Zimmerman, arrested, handcuffed and not a scratch on him shown just in case the meme is resurrected on Facebook . In the report, a neighbor of Zimmerman, a hot black woman whose wardrobe choice included a pair of what we used to call "hot pants"--and before I could take my eyes of her sweet long legs, the segment on whatever she had to say was over.

Between the delicious doctor and whatever she had to say about retarded kids, which I wasn't listening to because there was a whisper of cleavage (very distracting) and Zimmerman's leggy neighbor in short shorts, I began to think, U.S. network news, for all of its faults, knows how to pick and choose eye candy.

And a nice clip of Earl Scruggs describing his thumb and three fingered banjo plucking technique. Scruggs? He passed away and I am saddened by this but I wish I could live long enough to hear that the word "iconic" has gone the way of "broads, "groovy" and "awesome" (OK, awesome hasn't been retired but we're maybe a generation away from its death knell).

Finally tonight, our person of the week--(Jesus no, please please please don't let them say it) "Someone making a difference".

And who's making a difference? A physically impaired combat veteran who now works with (wait for it). . .autistic children. 

Not a word about the debate on US health care and its future now being debated and discussed among Supreme Court justices. I only heard about that on the Daily Show. 

Syria? where a U.N human rights group released a report about how Bassar Al Assad's forces are targeting and torturing children--some of whom may be autistic and odds are some of them are. Drop the dead donkey.

Following the ABC, CBS and NBC nightly news, came the Jim Lehrer News Hour which GOP candidates have long gone on the stump to cut funding for because it and other PBS shows are left leaning and partisan when reporting on both sides of an issue with a paneled discussion of professors and world leaders, and is a news show which does not have plunging neck lines nor a black women whose  legs are longer than a line at the DMV strategically placed to rivet you to your seat for 30 minutes.

I have to pee.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I don't know how the universe began. There is a plausible theory about subatomic particles travelling faster than the speed of light suddenly colliding and that the collision led to the formation of elemental gasses like hydrogen and helium which rapidly expanded to become the source of all things.

I don't know how life began. Something about a primordial soup and the evolution of single celled organisms.

I  have no clue why there are rewarding and retaliatory forces in a disinterested, supernatural world which lies beyond our senses, nor do I know why these forces so often remunerates us with miracles or reprimands us with great catastrophe when we so often don’t deserve either. 

I can't answer who or what or why or how all things were set into motion.

Why is it so many people since there have been people bundle all these unknown things together and write it all off with a single word--God--then merrily go on their way, fearing it, loving it, praying to it. I am happy for these people because they believe they do know and their happiness is heart warming.  They have faith but can sometimes be irritating when they condescend to those who don't have faith by either heaping great sympathy upon us who lack their faith or they can be dangerous when they make a decision to blow themselves up, taking as many people with them as they possibly can simply because others lack their brand of faith.
And I can't for the life of me figure out why people would call  Elton John or Bon Jovi rock and roll.

I also am greatly stumped when people curse on social networking sites, deleting certain letters substituting those letters with signs and symbols like # or * or @ as in  f#ck or sh*t or b@tch when on the receiving end of the message, their audience reads and hears the words in their minds. Are they trying not to offend us? Is it similar as to why Hebrews will only go so far as spelling out the name of their God as YHWH? I find it more offensive that people won't openly express these words with all letters or why not forget about using the words altogether. They are obviously somewhat computer savvy, and they must know there is an online thesaurus.

I accept that I will never know the answers to so many questions I once believed would be slowly revealed to me overtime through aging and wisdom; from my first inhalation to my final exhalation there are things which will always remain a mystery to me.
Fucking bugs the shit out of me sometimes.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Other New Year

There's this FB app. where you try to wrote 750 words a day. But it is nearly impossible to share what you write with others, so I've decided to put my exercises in my notes. It's a littl...e unsettling because what I have here is pure unadulterated, unrevised me, write, write, write, no fair looking back and revising. I guess I've turned the app into see how fast I can write 750 mediocre sentences.

My summer ends and a new school year begins. I quickly fall into the routine of five mornings a week, waking at 6, finishing breakfast and a quick Email, Facebook and New York Times glance, shave, take care of my teeth and sweeten my scent with some sort of spray given on some sort of present giving day. Dress, hurry downstairs to load up my pockets with a fatter wallet than used on vacation—I take with me when I travel maybe one or two bank cards, a form of ID, some cash. My fat at home wallet has these things and more. I carry enough ID to get me checked into an emergency room, an insurance card, driver’s license, car registration. . .so much more than necessary, business cards I’ve yet to throw away, receipts from ATM withdraws that become irrelevant as the balance changes, phone numbers on slips of paper, most of them without names, and stuff.

We have had meetings all week which have been training sessions for new textbooks, and I am breathing a little easier, have a less queasy stomach knowing that despite all the hullabaloo about our new program, teaching English is teaching English and English books are English books so there was nothing much to be gained from attending these session other than being reminded that I can no longer slumber past six, take no morning power naps, and adding to my morning routine tying a neck tie five days a week.

I’m glad that I took the 9 day Eid break and went to Kathmandu. I spent most of my summer in the US with all of its conveniences like mega-hardware stores, super dooper big Wal-marts and the like. We have most of all these conveniences here except for a few--like everybody speaking the same language. But had I not gone to one of the poorest countries in the world where wood is a chief energy sources and the population does a lot of walking up hills while carrying heavy payloads atop their heads, by now I'd be pissing and moaning about having to work in "this" part of the world.

It rained hard during the trek. I picked up a few leeches. I came back to Sharjah appreciating everything they have here, taking little for granted. These feelings of appreciation will not last, but by the time I start to focus on what isn’t available, I’ll have another opportunity to leave, and leave for a place where people transport themselves on foot and eat the same foods three times a day.

I don’t know if I could ever live in then US again, or any western or even eastern country that has so many consumer conveniences and goods readily available. That rules out the US as well as Korea, the UK as well as Japan. And to an extent China and Germany. There’s a part of me that needs to be reminded of what I have or have available to me and not just materials things like a guitar part I can buy in a shop and not special order, but freedoms like freedom of speech.

So I am back and give or take a day off here and a day off there, semester breaks and a Muslim holiday which might be an off week sandwiches between two weekends giving us 9 more days to travel, it will be another 9 months or so before I have to leave. Must leave. Recharge. Learn to appreciate.

Yes the traffic here is often extraordinarily nerve wracking and often insane drivers do things that gets my heart rate up to its maximum and anger management becomes unmanageable. But after 2 months in America, where people have more courteous driving habits and maintain lane integrity, use their indicators, don’t tail gate, I now see that the worst of the driving here is not all that bad.

For now.

Home sweet home or more appropriately, housing accommodation sweet housing accommodation. Fat and happy cats. TV with enough watchable channels to turn me into a well rounded couch potato (well rounded in more than one sense of the phrase). Less eating. More exercise. Blog again.

The days go by quickly, or quicklier and quicklier. June is not so far off into the future as nothing in my life now is not far off into the future, including the end to said life. So as I stated a few days ago on my Facebook status update, DO appreciate every minute as though it’s your last, except for what you know to be your last minute and then panic.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Good Cancer

The bass player for our old-men-with-day-jobs band "The Turbeaux Dogs", (named after a Louisiana micro-brew) recently gave a benefit concert for the bass player who underwent chemo and radiation last summer and into the fall for throat cancer, a good cancer I think.

C. is a by-the-book chain smoker, puffing on them ciggies non-stop every five minutes or so for bladdity blah blah years,

I kept in touch with C. throughout his treatments (which were done in the U.S.) and not only was it inconvenient living with his parents who are both hard of hearing and blast their TV at full volume 18 hours a day, the chemo made him puke a lot and the radiation smarted like all get out. He said it made all food taste like cardboard.

Now. The bills have come in. The co-pay bills.

His co-pays could buy him a veddy nice high end British town car or a low end DYI fixer upper in the New Orleans By-Water.

C.? Well. Let's say his is liked. Let's go so far as to say he is well liked. So we organized a benefit concert for him once he got back to town and back on his feet. It was a sell-out show.

We passed out donation boxes. Raffled off all kinds of niceness from dinners to bottles of top shelf booze, an IPod, a lap top. "Music Fights Back" the flyers and laminated posters read.

All-in-all we might have put a noticeable dent in his out-of-pocket expenses.

His Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan was a good news day for him. No more cancer. For now. He's supposed to have a PET scan every three-to-six months and for the next few years in his foreseeable, tenuous future.

After the performances, when it came time for C. to take to the stage to collect the donations, he was sitting at a table with me out back and some of his friends from his softball team, every one doing shots of Jaeger while C. chain smoked his Marlboros. When the Emcee found us, he told C. it was time to come one stage and collect his charity. He flicked his butt and said, "Be right back." Best natural laugh I've had in a long time. Remission? Guess it means to him more opiate derivatives, a bad news to the good news, "You've got throat cancer. Again. Treatments begin Thursday. . .so I'm going to write you a 'script. . ."

Still. We had fun. The band played some worn out standards which meant no rehearsal time. Anyway, here's part of that unrehearsed show, un-sound checked, and un-sober. C.? Well, he's seated far right, the one with the seen and done-it-all gravelly voice, or what's left of his voice.

C.'s voice giving out on the ooooohs leaving me to bellow in the breeze while trying to finger some naughty chords.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

The boss arrived in Sacramento yesterday for an extended stay.  I'm supposed to own a home by now, she says. Oh. Kay.

That thatched walled, corrugated tin roof hooch on stilts in Kompong Phluk didn't have a flush toilet and based on this lack of, sadly, it looks as though it will not be the type of home I hoped to one day own. Oh. Well.
The boss left in charge of my domestic affairs a  live-in Filipino house keeper to help wrangle the cats and tend to my garden. There's a Panglossian metaphor creeping through my life. Oh. My.

Richard Ford, in his novel "Independence Day" says when he writes about a stage in a man's life known as "The Existence Period" that "Every age has its own pennant to fly."  It's the psychiatrists, he later says, who flag us all away from the "poison of euphoria" and haul us back to flat earth, where they want us to be."

Wish I'd said that.

For now, I exist in an equatorial state of mind thanks to my psycho-pharmacologist who feels that my being in no mood is the best mood.

Curse this latest generation mood stabilizer which takes me to a place where all the pennants flying are emblazoned with the motto, "Comme si, Comme sa, Sans Cesse"

And fuck equatorial stabilization. Truth be known, I'm jonesing for the ecstasy of isolation, and I am ready to accept the consequences woven into the insanity of it all. 

I want my rapid thoughts, my uncontainable inklings, my bizarre notions, my fleeting impulses and my raging ideas to rain down upon me like an avenging apocalyptic meteorite shower.

If only for a weekend. 

"In this corner, weighing in at 90 pounds, feeling every bit of 56 years old and an all around decent chap once you get to know him--Mr. Do The Next Right Thing himself--my super ego! And in that corner, one zoo ugly 800 pound Dionysian baby and kissing cousins with Mr.and Mrs. Calamity and Chaos--my id. Are you ready to r-r-r-rumble!"
I am.

If only. If only. If only I could somehow manipulate the cure so that I could lay down in the fragrant flora of hypo-maniacal living--on rare occasion. . .and with a capped spending limit. 

However poignant, I want to tend to my own garden, overgrown with all its whacked out urges and be as annoying and unmanageable as I want to be. 

But now? I only have wanting to soar.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Po' me

I'm at a loss for words. I am pretty sure it has something to do with what's on the horizon.  I tell myself--it's an investment, but even that gives me the heebly be'geeblies. It tastes like a medicine which is worse than the illness. It looms like a necessary surgery, an amputation of a gangrenous limb. I usually don't have much to write about other than me, and now I see myself facing a pitiable west coast state of spiritual inertia. 

And what in the world do I now care for or have I ever cared for being in good standing with a neighborhood watch or Home Owner's Association? With each realtor listing sent my way, I feel a turn of the screw. Home ownership. A final resting place for me and my stuff.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Essential Disorientation

Whenever I have tried my hand at the wholeness of a union, I come to fear that its comforts lay bare to me and my world the nakedness of me going completely soft and becoming something not true to form.

Unquestionably, I am attracted to the idea of an idyllic union which demands devotion, fidelity, truthfulness and unbroken promises. But it has also long been my belief that in such a union of one sort or another, I declare that its demands are heard too loudly and too clearly, and therefore, from time to time, must be ignored.

When I am a fraction, the lyricism of wholeness is muffled, incapable of being heard within the lucidity of an opiate derivative dream state. Despite this, I am keenly aware that I am one who feels he must always represent only half the story of a life.

When I am in fact “out there” I seek to become intoxicated by forces that seem to be electromagnetic in nature and far beyond my capacity for control. My polarization runs both this way and that way, creating an essential disorientation, but one with its rewards. I transcend the fact that I am a missing piece of whole. Being on my own, I am an eager runaway piece of puzzle, a fat and happy fraction lacking a common denominator. I want nothing more than to become disconnected and unfamiliar with the demands of home. Far and gone, I find a definitive sovereignty of the spirit.

I have never quite been able to shake loose that uneasy feeling that each homely instant and every homely action is a larcenous superficial joy, making off in broad daylight with more good humor than it brings. On the road, alone, I reject my declaration of co-dependence. Whether I’m hauling my guitar up the side of Himalayan foothills to sing out some Himalayan hillbilly song or if I have taken my guitar deep into a lazy jungle where I snake my way through each waking bluesy hour in a verdant haze of one sort or another, I instantly become capable of discarding all that should be bliss and grace.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Spinning yarns and wheels

I arrived in Siem Reap around beer:thirty, just before sunset, when my friend-in-residence and Siem Reap pick-up band mate, K. calls it a day and heads for the one and only local supermarket to knock back a few cold ones. 

I spent two weeks in Siem Reap playing in clubs with K. He sings and strums. I sing and add bluesy lead fills. We've been playing together on Siem Reap's backpacker pub streets for the past four years. We know each other's stylings well enough that we can keep rehearsal to an hour or so, and get on with the business of getting up on stage night after night with only chord charts to guide us and keep it all together. So where's the story here?

Writing about my two weeks warm up for my Southeast Asian blues scene tour has me spinning my wheels in brain gravel because I always have a great time doing this each summer. Where's the story in that?
The only value of travel writing that assures an audience’s curiosity is misfortune. That’s the hook. A captivated audience seeks commiseration and appreciation for hardships which look a lot like their own.

I am wracking my brain and decoding notes trying to assign dramatic meaning to what appears to have been a really good time, but a time filled with the not so desperate, predictable moments. 

I feel I am obligated to recognize drama and to see the humor in it. I could fiddle with this part of the trip until unease and dread resolve into something attention-grabbing.

I must show moments when endurance prevailed, where I endured one cosmic joke after another, moments in which I always take it on the chin.Here I must escape self, reinvent self, isolate a façade of self from self then reconstruct and reflect self in a fun house mirror.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Poipet is a hassle prone a border town that takes you from eastern Thailand into western Cambodia. It is here you cross over from a country which on the surface bears a resemblance to a well-heeled and well-regulated society and enter into a country which is brashly down-at-the heels. Here those who live the good life do so by either living outside of or somewhat above the law while those who live the best of all possible lives are those in a position to interpret and enforce laws.

You don’t have to venture too far from the Thai side of the border to see this in action. You don’t even have to enter the country. There is a sign above the windows where you purchase your visa that lists the price of a Cambodian tourist visa as twenty dollars. Insist on paying twenty dollars and not a penny more, that’s what the sign says, so you have right on your side. Then take a seat on the bench, put your feet up and make yourself and your sense of righteousness comfortable. You will be sitting there for as long as it takes for you to get tired of wasting away. Be sure it is sooner than later when you cave in and choose to pay the extra five dollars so that you can proceed to the passport clearance, and snake your way through the queue to have your passport stamped.

So it begins. Welcome to Scambodia.

Once you’re officially in country, just outside the passport building, you find yourself overrun by a clatter of touts who have been dispatched by private taxi and mini-van drivers willing for a fixed price to help you to beat it out of town. The touts are unrelenting and aggressive, and they need to be as they try to steer you towards your ride hoping for a tip of a dollar or two to supplement whatever baksheesh the taxi driver doles out. They are part of the less fortunate lot who by and large live within the limits of the law.

In the past, I have ignored the touts and waited for a free city bus to come and take me a few hundred meters into town to the transportation depot where fixed-priced taxis to Siem Reap can be had for up to forty dollars; half that if you are willing to share it with one other person. The expediency of the government authorized taxis is worth the money and the wait to find a second party to split the cost. The unauthorized taxis usually take twice a long to get you to Siem Reap because they will pick up extras passengers along the way and are obliged to stop at least once at a decrepit roadside restaurant where you can’t help but kill time and order at least a beer or two while you wait for the taxi driver to have his lunch. The authorized taxis might also make the same stop, but because there is a receipt of some sort in your pocket which includes the driver’s name and his authorization number, you are in a position to decline and tell them politely but firmly to make this a non-stop trip.

I do not advise you to leave the passport control building and hike to the transportation depot. Wait for the bus. Once you step away from the building the swarm of touts will encircle you and will follow you like ravenous, hectoring mosquitoes abuzz with great deals on a ride out of town.

I made the mistake of not waiting for the bus. I took off on foot, guitar, backpack and all weighing me down.

They followed me every step of the way, no matter how bad-mannered or indifferent I was to them and their badgering. I knew the transportation depot was just a ways down the dusty road and I was determined to show these guys I was an old hand at this. I ignored their warnings that the place had closed down or was closed for the day or that it had moved far outside of town. 

The touts it seemed were more unconvincing than usual, desperately claiming that I was wasting my time—the depot had shut down, the depot had moved, there was no longer a depot. They offered to carry my backpack, to carry my guitar, to take me to a place where they knew I could get a taxi at the same price, maybe cheaper than the authorized taxis. As we walked, the dozen touts encircling me at the passport building were continually joined by new waves of reinforcements. The circle expanded to a mob. Some on foot. Some on bicycle, some on motor scooters. All of them chattering, “No sir, the building is closed. Come with me. The building has moved.” 

Every step for me represented the core of my spirit to endure what I was sure was a test of wills. I could weather this lot. I’ve been to India.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Head On Down the Highway

Hard work and a modest amount of prosperity generally mean that from time-to-time, he feels he must pay the devil her due. It’s a sacred tradition for him. On his own, after dark, he plots a course. Fulfilling the mission is now just a shadow of its former self which has disappeared into the depths of his subconscious. There it happily keeps company with all the obvious desires of the young at heart.

These days, his needs are sustained by a familiar voice which is impossible to ignore because it insists, “there’s what’s right and there’s what’s fair!” He has earned the right to be here tonight, to parade around town his store house of sublimated desires. If later he is to be held accountable, he will claim that he was in fact being true—true to himself. As for loyalty, frankly speaking, it has always been and will always be a sentiment that he and his secrets have complicitly ignored.

Time was the anticipation of the act outpaced the thing itself; then the thing replaced anticipation when it became an art form and every act was an attempt to re-create a masterpiece; then, much later in life, it ceased to be art when the thing was widely available by the truckloads and at reasonable rates.

Typically, these days, if he finds her, he finds that she is a woman relatively mature in age. She's taken on board as much for her needs as well as for his. 

This act can be as simple as a kiss or as complicated as, well, as complicated as a woman.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The Wind Is Risin', Leaves Tremblin' on the Tree

I awake from my post-flight nap and belong to the night, my stomach hungry for grilled chicken on a stick, my amorphous, magical tackle, a vigorously misguided fallacy of needs. I’m up for a familiar, long meandering walk from soi to soi, rubbing elbows with the sidewalk merchants of Sukhumvit, cold beer in hand, pharmacology on the brain and Aphrodite by my side, again steering me clear of the honorable questions, and keeping me from running aground on imperfect answers.

I have a gift for separating me into two parts; the “me” who thinks that discipline offers me nothing of any real value and the “me” too terrified to admit that it is everything.

Principles and integrity become the flotsam and jetsam of my dead-in-the-water ideals as all concepts of right and wrong become vagaries, all now well beyond their sell-by dates and are therefore as irredeemable as I am.

I may never get to know the One on a first name basis, but I can amuse myself, his creatures of the evening and share a part of my good fortune in exchange for some flimsy excuse for a fusion of mind and flesh. I believe psychiatrists refer to this sort of rationalization as delusional. But. So what? Sooner or later, Gabriel will be a’ blowing smoke rings in my face, and when that time comes and I finally have no more points I’d like to make; no home to abandon or return to, I will have to admit quite casually that I purposefully and without regret have long evaded all of my end time preparatory duties. I've been busy.

These times, those times, that time, this time--never has there ever been a right time for me to put my disordered affairs in order because all times have always been the right time for me to indulge in the  interest of my best of times. So year after year I devote myself to the passivity of Weltschmerz management during my allocation of valued down time when I visit neighborhoods of familiar sites, sounds and fragrances, places where I have a talent for wasting time.

Looky here. What it is, is that all of it comes down to the needs of just one, unprincipled but marginally risk-free individual. What’s so fucking hard to understand about that? Losing collective values is a complex undertaking and it is a lot of work. So I have my own set of values and ideals which I have collected from my own epiphanies and  ethereal hunches and OK, maybe there is an untarnished communal truth out there somewhere, but I am sure it is none the worse for my never knowing it.