Words in the Middle

I write not because I think I am good or because I have some profound insight that needs to be shared; I write because I don’t know what else to do. I want to be a great writer but have resigned to mediocrity and I am ok with that even if it doesn’t pay the bills. Of course, it is important being able to sustain oneself but this nagging need has gripped me again with its tentacles. I had managed to stay on the corporate wagon for the past seven years. Before that, I was in so deep, passion spilling over into all sorts of publishing projects and working with artists and writers, poets and painters from all around the Pacific Northwest. But then I dropped out – vanished in an implosion of creative impetus.  I vowed I would not return to it until I was settled financially and put up on a retired front porch someplace, aged with years of weather and stories that had accumulated there and needed a good writing. Instead, I find myself writing about writing while writing. What kind of trickery is this? I have not the patience for non-fiction – rehashing junk, and all my fictitious characters are troubled downtrodden protagonists that push like martyrs to the end. They are tortured but always are not without hope and take things as they come. Some rationalize their way into complacency, though, while others are cursed souls that have romanticized themselves right into purgatory. Where is the humor anymore? That could be it right there – just remembering there should be. My writing – this spirit inside is a dichotomy to the light and reflects something else. I can’t say it is accurate and perhaps my view is in danger – but it doesn’t matter because I already don’t like it other than to appease it with words, any words… with crappy words. I will deprive it of its ideal so that I can get to it – get back to someplace less appealing where I might get in real good and make lots of money to live another day and make sure my kids are solid with their own opportunities. I will hit that clock and force myself to love it.

Just then, a faint damp musk brushes the air, lush with old Douglas meal worms and fern. I am in the desert full of juniper – the Badlands. How can the Magic Skagit drift all the way down and over those Cascade Mountains? Ironically, it brought a blanket of wet snow this morning to Bend. The past couple of days saw rain and a weather inversion that settled in with air stagnation – a perfect setting for sweats and football from the couch. Why do old memories haunt me with it’s beauty? What can be done with all this gibberish? This reminds me of Jeff Larsen who is a burn out, drunk on detective work. He moved with his wife to the area around Sisters, OR and they made a garden in the sage brush just beneath the Three Sisters. After a life solving cases up in the Seattle gray, he couldn’t take it anymore. The problem was there were people who would not let him retire and had unresolved issues with him. That is a very random flashback to an old story written long ago. Nevertheless, the issue of writing is buried deep and now time has brought it back for me to deal with like leftover turkey soup taking up space in an already cramped freezer.

Funny thing is, I really can’t stand to read my own shit. It does make me physically nauseous – gives me a headache.  I just don’t know what else to do. I could practice to make it somewhat more appealing but then it would have had its way with me.

If I wasn’t so damn stubborn, I’d be in the city somewhere doing my high paying clock job.  But once again I find myself here just when I wasn’t looking. The only place for it was in my fantasy and I did get a rush when I thought about it – but it wasn’t real – at least I was always skeptical of the timing of such things as writing. What would be the point? I mean really – who says they are a writer? But if not – then what are you doing? What do you do with your time? Go get a job. Right, I could do that and pack my house, figure out my kids who are in college now and living with me full time and then move to the city. I could make that drive over the pass and into the populace to fight the tail lights each day for a scrap of bread from a company that has lost its perspective and loyalty to the value of the employee or is not honorable by its customers and is just a nameless machine churning widgets to fund someone else’s escape plan. It’s not so far-fetched. That’s what we are supposed to do, right? Aren’t we just words at the end of the day, anyway?

An Attention Ore

It was left with only words to draw attention but the lack of reply empowered the final say, a last word of which we are all susceptible. To avoid such outcomes and misunderstandings, it becomes a fitting matter to strike some keys for further explanation. One song that could be associated with this rambling is indeed ‘Ramble On’ by Led Zeppelin or ‘Once in a Lifetime’ by Talking Heads.

Writing, as I have mentioned in other circles of thought, is a curse. My life has always revolved around it and life circumstances have pushed me into a corner where I cannot avoid it further and am forced to look squarely into a round mirror of truth and come to terms with the anguish that jumbled words provoke. As it is, I am working on a series of books which have gone past the point of fanciful notes to remind myself of some other world I need to spend time in; or some other characters to understand, to which we all are a part of, that allows the story to unfold.

Life outside of the corporate grind is where the unreliable and unmotivated dwell – or at least that is the stigma. It has come to my attention that I am no longer in that place and the transition has done so without regard to other flights that are also in process and learning to fly. There is no ideal time or perfect situation than as it is now. Like most humans, I require interaction and the need to feel safely accepted with my own understanding. This humanness is exasperated when the isolating process of writing something worth writing prevails and jumbled words begin to circle with their demanding stance to be properly fitted; no matter what paths you think you are on, you can’t help but relinquish to the words until they have run the course. When attempts are made to stifle, this curse inflicts a personal anguish that grips the tongue and words can no longer be spoken – taken by the need to write. The more resistance there is with attempts to normalize, the deeper the depth of wordlessness.

I woke after days of full moon madness that nearly drove me to the brink of utter emotional collapse and a heightened state of sensitivity. It occurred to me that I was spending too much time in the virtual world of Facebook where human contact does not exist in the flesh. It is a vice that I value because it does and has put me in touch with many I care about and others I did not know I would. The thing is I see where we (I) can become trapped in the need for social interaction, yet, because I procrastinate, am compelled to isolate myself for the sake of embracing the need to write. As well, I realize how life has changed with such tools like our online social environments. I am not against them whereas I think there is much more that is good than not as a result.

Part of my strife stems as a byproduct of my own exploration into the characters taking shape – at least as much as they have revealed themselves for my own understanding. Anyone who has worked on a book understands how a story can take over and begin to motor its own momentum where plot lines and characters unfold as the pages move from one turn to the next. Of course we all hide behind our characters at some point, don’t we? It’s life. Despite allowing myself to go into that forbidden place where I take on characters through empathic measures and write about them, I am aware that words are sometimes misunderstood by those closest that might think they have an inkling when they attempt to read between the lines. I have struggled with this for years where concern about what others might think has been a stage gate to any progress in the writing process. On the other hand, where does the story come from, if not at least on some level, from our own experiences and from people and circumstances that indeed have shaped our perceptions? So it is natural to expect that there are things to be read in the in between places, but I assure you reader that I am no more out of my mind than the world will end tomorrow.

The purpose of this is to recognize that some morning post posted by myself and alter ego, Jack Gable, may have caused some alarm and worry for me. For the record, I am fine and am grateful where perhaps I have taken for granted the word ‘friend’. I did not consciously think about how my words would affect some. But please understand that sometimes when I write words tumble out like vomit being channeled from some other region. I don’t mean harm as I am deliberately exploring this process. Admittedly, the isolation that has consumed me since being relieved from the corporate grind does benefit the writing that I am about and, yet, at the same time, is ground for some tint of insanity.  Human touch trumps all when it comes to the true nature of our being and is where my concern resides when I consider the implications of such mechanisms as our social media. At the same time, thank god for our ingenuity that has indeed tightened bonds as the world around us does expand as we age and touch can get misplaced like a pair of favorite socks. Life is transpiring from an inner core of who I am and being released into having nothing but my own time on my hands has forced me to start being. Life outside the clock is a strange and unsettling place in all its randomness and I have no excuse remaining that would otherwise serve my inclination to procrastinate.

As I sit here musing about how words draw different reactions and interpretations, especially for myself, I am struck by human condition as being an attention ore like a chunk of compressed soot stuck with high pressure into a ball of anxious matter. Extracting ore is painful to the surrounding landscape that must share space. Rocks, a lesser form, are bulldozed and plant life is uprooted as hillsides are displaced. The attention ore is a state by which we all find ourselves from time to time where the slightest human interaction reminds us we are still with the living just as inherent to our humanity as air and water are mortal requirements of our physical state. Touch is something real and the need for it is to be human – at least in an honest state. As I embark on this book, the very act does require some limbs to be removed to make way for new growth. I know this sounds cliché, but where I am susceptible to the alluring power of Facebook as being a writer, I realize it is a space that needs to reduce in size so as to effectively achieve that which I have embarked. But now I am just throwing words around. Any proclamations are purely for my own good, my own assertion and sometimes I forget people are looking when I do become engrossed in the beauty of words taking shape and can’t help myself.

At the end of the day, our lives are experience and change sometimes invokes the need for drastic measures so that dreams can be realized. It is instinctive and is a primal sense where our intuition about who we are does give way to something more from ourselves and honoring that with humility and honesty is not an easy step to take because it is often inconvenient. However, only beauty can come from it whereas our hearts are bound and will gravitate to love in the end. Bringing that forward to the present is where a longing sometimes ends with rambling incoherently in a whisky stupor and I just laugh. Writing sometimes expounds with too many words and I would say that even in the heavy dribble and twisted rants that there is humor and a lightness that rests still. That is the part I am resolved to never let slip. Funny thing is now I have this image of Facebook going totally dark for like thirty six hours. If so, then the challenge would be do something profound and life altering on some level and that is what my rambling assertion was really about as I contemplated all of it.

Finding Obamacare

October 31st was the last day that I worked for the bullet manufacturer. I knew things were going sideways, not because I failed in my performance, but because the wind had changed and I could see that I was no longer going to be needed. I had done too well in setting things up and loyalty at this level is not much different than the stigmas associated with big time public companies. But this is in part because I realized I did not belong there. It was a reality that I had come to understand with each passing week. While relationships were mostly kind and professional, there was a rift where I was personally concerned because I did not like to kill animals. I do not own guns and have never been a hunter, per se, at least not the kind that devotes hundreds of thousands of dollars to the pursuit of killing an elephant and other exotic creatures for the sake of the kill. I do know other hunters that take meat for the sake of putting protein on the table and I happen to like the taste of venison. Heck my daughter has wanted to take up hunter safety training and hunting with her dad; she has talked about it for a few years now. But, desire is one thing while timing is quite another. As it is, I never fully fit into their mold.

The company is going through tremendous change as ownership is passing to the next generation. Likewise, the company made a poor acquisition the summer before based on hand shake ideas that came back to bite them. The vetting process was short and arrogant and only allowed enough for a façade to be bought into. There was no proper integration of staff and oversight at the remote location. Accounting processes were sloppy and communication held too close from those that had to manage the daily tasks of business; nobody understood their role and confusion ensued on both sides of the trade.

Eventually, I was released from the micromanagement of chaos. Who are these with so little sight of the path of their own progress? Either way, I went and felt an air of relief and gratitude come over me. It was time and I knew that another day was just another step toward my grave. The stress was just that intolerable, on the edge and time – just time to go and let them sort it out.

COBRA came knocking with the promise of continued health care that I had been receiving at the full rate of what my plan cost at retail, which I quickly realized was about $1500 per month. Of course, I did not give it a second look. So I waded into the dense thicket of Obamacare in hopes of unlearning some of my ill-perceptions about the mandatory nature of the plan. I started out going to our local county offices hoping that people would be present that could explain things to me. Instead, I was handed a packet and told to go fill it out and mail it in or bring it back and they would mail it for me. No longer did local officials have anything to do with the process and in fact were not even trained to answer questions other than point people to a convoluted series of links and websites depending on your need.

Then the emails came. Seemingly ever hour on the hour as a constant reminder that December 15, 2014 was the deadline for enrolling. How did they know? I looked and tried to enter into it with diligence. But much was unclear and I had doubt as to what and where I needed to be or how I qualified which determined where you needed to be. I filled out the long application and folded it neatly into a pre-addressed envelope that was not postage paid. I held that envelope for days with uncertainty. Another email came and then a text: “there are only seven days remaining and you must act by December 15 for you 2015 health benefits. Do not delay”. I received about five of those per day, each citing language of fear and anxiety to prompt me to act. Still I did nothing, still uncertain. I picked up the phone and ended up speaking to a man who tried to transfer me only to get disconnected. I called again and found the wait time was 22 minutes. I hung up.

Some days passed with relentless emails and text warnings – all the same message, different days. One morning, I rolled out of bed and shuffled down the long hall to my kitchen. Light music still played through the flat screen. It was only 4:20 am. I went to the window and instinctively peeked through the blinds to see if it had snowed. After watching the snow come down for several minutes, I considered going back to bed. But then I noticed my slipper was tearing at the seam and this made me stumble in my thoughts. Suddenly, I felt as though I should repair them or at least do something. My slipper reminded me of everything else in my life and so I made coffee instead.

It dawned on me that I did not need to go to work that day. I felt restless and disoriented. Only the hazelnut would do in a moment like this. As I sipped the fresh cup of coffee, my lips tingled and I felt warm. It was a Pete’s dark roast. I caught myself pacing, thinking about Obamacare. How could something like this be mandated? I really was not comfortable in paying anything with my income being reduced by about 50%. I had house payments to make and food to put on the table. There was a pace that I wanted to sustain, which was not much, but brought some trivial comfort. I decided I could not jump to conclusions. Yet again, my phone buzzed with another text from some data processing center letting me know I should be excited about getting enrolled and that date was just around the corner. How could they do this?

I did vote for Obama and generally support the ideas surrounding the Health Care Act – still not sure about the Affordable part. The whole thing felt flawed and needed to be resolved to be a more sustainable function of life. It felt very Orwellian and somehow undermined our principles on one hand of a free people, yet was pitched as being highly beneficial from an economic and human perspective where the health of a nation is critical for both economic vitality and national defense. This paradox created within the folds of propaganda kept reminding me through texts slowing pushing me to some action.

So I sat down in the back room with large windows where I could watch the snow fall. I felt very quiet as I decided to go ahead and place another call to the hotline. This time, it only took about 20 minutes and so I sat there with speaker phone and listened while sipping my coffee. My thoughts ran to various situations. How would I truly budget for a third of my income to go toward a mandatory insurance policy? So much would need to be compromised so the insurance company would get their money as promised and the government administrators would save face and have a successful project launched. For whatever the underlying reasons, this had more to do with things we did not understand, which is not to say we are incapable of understanding, but would never get the full scope or strategy of how this might change the face of our country and the economic prowess of those in power – expanding the gaps.

Finally someone answered. It was a very nice lady named Claire. She was properly trained and friendly – personable even. She patiently listened to my concerns and helped me navigate through the website to get to the main page of what was needed. Much was not accessible because I had to first input the general information about my family and income. As I did this, various other questions and options arose and the system inherently took over and guided me along. At the end, I learned something about tax credits and a plan in the platinum option where my premium was slightly higher but my deductibles were much lower. At the same time, I was notified that I might qualify for my states OHP plan where much was paid for whereas my income on unemployment was too low. But the system only said it had passed my information on to the state for their review. In the meantime, I was still bound to having to select a plan and enroll my commitment.

I sat for a long while with this window open on my lap top. Snow continued to fall and I sipped more coffee. I took my slipper off and decided they were too cheap to worry about. When I went for a refill, I received another text – this was insane! It was like they knew my moves and were following me around in my house pushing me to finish the application.

When I returned to the window room, I saved my work and closed the window. I was going no further no matter how many texts I received. I would wait to hear from the state in order to decide what to do. I am not sure what this means whereas the deadline was upon me, but I am not comfortable entering into any contract without fully understanding the ramifications. Claire had politely encouraged me to complete the application so that I would be fully enrolled into a plan. Of course, she did not know anything about the state side benefits that might be available but she was nice at least.

I sat there admiring the beauty of the scene through my windows, breathing. About an hour must have passed and another text came through. It was then that I went back to bed after meditating myself into a lulling calm that drifted in the early morning glow of snowfall.

A Cynical Lover’s Rant

I push limits. Life is a journey meant to discover and grow. If we can do this while holding the hand of another that is willing to share in a journey, at the same time, exploring their own, then we know love and may lead a blessed life. But not all are meant to be shared. I am not made for it though my desire for it runs deep.

Some of us are bound to walk this world alone, but for friends we pick up along the way. Of course, society is confused by the nature of our relationships and continues to try and define it. I want natural love that is unforced and without bounds. I want love that feeds my soul with joy and reciprocates. I believe there are some of us that are not meant to have love, but to give of it freely so that others might remember it for their own. This has been the way of it for as long as I can remember, yet for some reason, love continues to fill me even in deep despair like backwash and sour candy.

It is weird to hear myself much less to see myself in the mirror, acting as if someone waits. I do not have glossy sentiments of wisdom to feel good. Being too personal makes most uncomfortable and draws criticism. Life is a solitary path and it is noticed that I should be happy with this and embrace the esoteric circumstances of a monk – to be content with nothing but my own like the one time a gold star was given for not speaking aloud. Perhaps this is the way of a writer, a dreamer, or a homeless lout that has been scrubbed over the rocks till his skin burned off. It is a lover without love other than love to give through a single expression found only in a dream, a passing of circumstance that does not yield to anything more than that moment.

This vomit page is where footsteps have strayed seeking to have what is not meant for me. It is difficult to toil with the heart and head string of reason. My hands are muddied from digging in the dirt, yet too soft for not digging deep enough. I don’t want to be alone but it is fate and one I am coming to terms with. Perhaps this is what lies with death? Perhaps that is when we know and this life is meant to break the bounds of it and to lie with true love before we are allowed to pass into another?

Love is the single most powerful strand of emotion.  We regurgitate this life experience again and again until we find the one while scouring desperately through debris left behind from previous attempts. How romantic for a vampire, I suppose. But society in all its attempts to define love has only defined who should receive it through a narrow lens of ideals and commercial potential. Only beauty shall know love where beauty is love and all that it is to love shall be love. At least it is more likely.

For beauty, two points meet at an easy junction and are swept into the blissful otherworld of white fence lines and Sunday bridge parties and Wednesday leftovers. This very moment is it and either they step through the door or miss it and have an impasse. The more often these steps are missed, the less beauty remains.

Ugly weighs the heart down with things no one can explain. We wander and isolate. Ugly has been here many times and with each missed step we slide from original beauty. This is not just a physical trait, but ugly is as ugly does, feels, or loves and loves not. Most are only ugly because they are too sensitive and bought into the ideals purported as the way life is supposed to go right along with high school dance parties and college dorm life and loyal employment. Ugly is full of experience and wisdom, and love. Love because it has settled in the soul for so long it stretches at the spirit to be released, to be given reason to scream like a train whistle that celebrates its arrival.

I am an ugly. I will not know love other than the love that I can give without ever having it returned because who can love an ugly? I am coming to terms to understand this fate and will pass unnoticed in the end to drift back into the dusty halls where my life will be given like a sacrifice to those who could experience it. We are not bound to this. I am not saying that I am deprived. Love can be boring and annoying. But true love is something else and I cannot speak of that which has not been known.

An ugly that speaks too much of his or her own truth is not in a position to receive whereas there is nothing to be given and all has been washed away through reason and poor choices that fell to the illusion of love like a burning sword of truth that seared the blood of our spirit. I am sure transparency is far greater than even I give merit, but the rant of a madman is the result of too many cycles and today I care little for the response of any that have not given credence to their own plight.

To know love is to know loss. Ugly is nothing more but a projection of ourselves.