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Archive for the ‘madness’ Category

Musings on Unclaimed Relationships & Utter Things

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 19, 2017

I read some poetry today that reminded me how so many people feel sad because someone they loved is gone, either through the end of a relationship or death. That is sad indeed, although an old relationships can often be rekindled, even though at a certain point in time it doesn’t seem possible. People seem to not know that, or ignore it, or conveniently forget it.

I don’t forget it. Sometimes that has happened to me. I remember how terrible it felt at times, but I no longer feel that way, about the relationships, or the two marriages, or my father’s death, or even my godfather’s death, although I still miss my favorite cat ever, and even though I accepted that he was dead, I suspect he is still alive, having seen what I’m pretty sure was that cat, with a new collar and tag a few miles from here.

I can’t go get the cat, even if I could find him, because I have a new cat, and another cat besides, and the fighting would be bad, and three cats is just too much. I am deeply saddened by not having that cat around, and knowing that with some effort, I might be able to reclaim him. But, that is somewhat like what this post is actually about: unclaimed relationships, not with cats, but with people.

I live alone, save for the cats. It could be otherwise. An old girlfriend from many years ago ended up single, and available for friendship or living together. And even though I used to think that I would jump at that, I don’t want to. For one thing, she is quite batty, with a house overrun by cats, and sometimes a dog or two, and bizarre off-the-deep-end beliefs which she will force on anyone and everyone, but also because I like living alone.

She is not the only woman I’ve met since my last divorce. A much younger woman gave me a couple of years of extreme pleasure, but insisted I not fall in love with her because we were friends only, with benefits. I was a bit sad about that, because I would certainly have married her, and not just for the sex, although that would have been a pretty compelling reason, but because she and I enjoyed each other’s company, and the pleasure of snuggling up with her was heavenly. She finally moved away. Contacted her and she wanted me to visit, but then changed her mind. Such is life.

I wasn’t as sad about that as I’ve been about other relationships, because she warned me from the first to not fall in love with her, and would get quite upset if she thought I was drifting that way. So, it never came as a shock, nor depressed me beyond my normal state of living life a bit less than to the fullest.

It’s not like I don’t still meet women. Being involved with the TV & movie industry in New Mexico, both in front of a camera, and behind the scenes, I meet a lot of woman, and there are possibilities there. But I don’t pursue them. There’s something about leaving things as they are that suits me. Beside the acting and crew work, I hike the mountains around here. I read a lot. I eat what I want, sleep when I want, watch TV or not watch TV. I’ve a friend I watch Netflix rental movies with once a week.

I work at a winery,

040616 (4) 072810 (8) watering, weeding, picking fruit, pumping and filtering, bottling and labeling about a thousand or more gallons of fruit wine every year. I don’t make any money at it, but it sure keeps some of my “free” time occupied.

I buy lots of things online, mostly books, and graphic novels, and I resell them. (Terry’s Books) I have a diverse coin collection:

I also take photos of the landscape around here, and sometimes I sell one, in a shop, or by hanging them at the winery.  091616-147

IRS I owe the I.R.S. way too much money every year, so I think I’m doing my part to prop up the U.S. economy.

But, let me tell you, it all doesn’t seem to mean much. It’s not that I think there’s more to life, or need a reason for life, or worry about the meaning of life. I don’t think life has much meaning, except what we each want it to mean. Sometimes though, I remember what it was like to share my everyday life with someone, sleep next to them each night, and wake up with them.

I do miss that, in somewhat the same way I miss my cat. Not the same thing of course. Even having cats leaves me feeling lonely and miserable at times.

Nowadays, I accept that I am just going to be living this way. It’s easier for a misanthrope to live alone. I suppose I don’t really dislike all people so much as I like being a recluse and not having to deal with other people.

And then again, sometimes I don’t think it matters, because I don’t expect to live all that much longer. I had a heart attack back in 2013. Before that happened, I was losing my ability to keep up with others hikers, some of whom were older than me. My energy was flagging, and I kept having to stop and catch my breath. I fell to the back position in any hike, and was wasted by the time I reached the mountaintop. Finally, one day while reading, I felt suddenly as though the world was ending, that everything was going black, and there was this intense pressure in my chest, and I called 911. The paramedics, and a cardiologist convinced me I was having a heart attack, and I had angioplasty with a stent emplacement. Things got better, I ran three half marathons, I got faster on hikes, and had more energy.

But, now I am starting to feel the energy fade again. I hiked on Monday 8.9 miles, about 6 hours, up my favorite trail.    041717 Panoramic           It was slow going, about 1 1/2 miles an hour, and I was beat when I was done. Felt wasted. Drank electrolytes on the way up, and a bottle of black tea on the way down, and had to drink two more bottles when I got home, just to have the energy to function. I’ve done this trail before, and I wasn’t that wasted. It was the same on another trail I hiked recently – wasted, sleepy, lethargic afterwards. I’m thinking the heart is not doing all that well. My cholesterol is the lowest it’s ever been, and my blood pressure has never been too high. I do have a visit with my cardiologist next month, and a stress test, so I’m curious what that will reveal.  Even simple exercise seems to tire me, just like before the 2013 heart attack.

I should write a poem, or a song:

I’m so sad and lonely

near my end of  time

there’s no one to miss me

and nothing left to live for.

O, o, o, I think I’ll die.

Set to music, it’d be alright, and entertaining. Of course, it’s been done so many times already. It’s the human condition, the poet’s theme, the singer’s shout, the hipster’s wail.

Meanwhile, I’m still here. A hike tomorrow morning, fruit to water Wild Cherry Farm.JPG on Friday, wine to sell on Sunday with my lovely stepdaughter, physical therapy for my aging back Tuesday morning, acting class Tuesday evening, background work for a TV crime series pilot (based on graphic novels) scalped next Wednesday. I’ve an acting gig to finish up. Then the stress echocardiogram next month, and a visit to the urologist, and a strange 5-day cruse with five of my six siblings, some in-laws, some nieces, a nephew, a couple of cousins and my mom, mostly to please her. Dream cruise for her, or I wouldn’t go. I’d rather not have that much interaction with people, even though I sometimes crave it.

Posted in family, health, hiking, In front of the camera, Life, love, madness, marriage, misanthropy, poem, rambling, rants, relationships, wine | Leave a Comment »

Under Seige: The Survival of the United States

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 28, 2017

mlkriversidechurch

Photo credit: John C. Goodwin

Fifty years ago (on April 4, 1967), the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr gave a speech connecting the main struggles then going on in the U.S.A.  I’ve provided links to it, both as text first, and also the video. Warning, they are long.

TEXT – The link between the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, and economic injustice

VIDEO – A Time to Break Silence (Full)

While I am a wee bit early for the anniversary of that speech, I read today that President Donald Trump is asking the US Congress to increase defense spending by 54 BILLION DOLLARS- that’s $54,000,000,000 (If you could save $100,000/year, it would take you 540,000 years to save 54 billion dollars.) MLK felt that such reckless spending would kill this country. Although I approve of Trump’s shaking things up and challenging the U.S. political establishment, I cannot approve of his recently expressed desire to increase the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and now his plea to divert even more of our tax dollars to military spending. I believe, as did MLK, that the health of my country depends on how we treat our citizens, how we teach our children, and how we plan for our future. It is not tied to building a wall, an actual literal fucking wall around ourselves, and focusing ourselves on increasing our armaments, aiming weapons at the world and daring anyone to try to breach that wall. It is a siege mentality.

Among the consequences of a siege mentality are black and white thinking, social conformity, and lack of trust. It is a false choice! Many in the United State believe that our only defense is military, that we must have overwhelming superiority in weapons of mass destruction, and other firepower in order to protect ourselves. We live in a huge world, full of other nations, other peoples, and we are not under siege by them. Many support us, many admire us even now, as we prepare to enter a new Dark Age of fear, of belligerence, and of a poverty, in both the economic and spiritual sense, that will cripple this country. WE CAN BE BETTER THAN THIS!

We do not need to retreat into a bunker bristling with weapons in order to survive. We can work with many other countries to cut off funding to terror groups, isolate them, and if necessary to eliminate them. They are misguided idiots led by fanaticism without concern for others. That alone isolates them. We cannot defeat them by becoming like them. If we continue down this path we will fail, and we will self destruct.

If we were to, for instance, look to a shared future with other nations and peoples around the globe, prepare for it, plan for it, or, I don’t know, even SPEND MONEY ON IT, might we not have a better chance at survival?

I cannot tell people what to do, or how to do it, but I am certain that working and planning together is our best, most viable option.

There are two ways to end a siege: utterly overwhelm and destroy, or starve the enemy out. This is what we face. By building a fortress, hiding behind it, and closing ourselves off from the world, we are making the entire world our enemy. WE BECOME THE ENEMY OF THE WORLD. One day, we may find ourselves facing a united world that either comes for us to destroy us, or worse, ignores us. Without trade, without cultural exchange, without friends, and without hope, we will starve ourselves into oblivion.

 

ENNUI, Personal & Political

mlkriversidechurchPhoto credit: John C. Goodwin

Fifty years ago (on April 4, 1967), the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr gave a speech connecting the main struggles then going on in the U.S.A.  I’ve provided links to it, both as text first, and also the video. Warning, they are long.

TEXT – The link between the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, and economic injustice

VIDEO – A Time to Break Silence (Full)

While I am a wee bit early for the anniversary of that speech, I read today that President Donald Trump is asking the US Congress to increase defense spending by 54 BILLION DOLLARS- that’s $54,000,000,000 (If you could save $100,000/year, it would take you 540,000 years to save 54 billion dollars.) MLK felt that such reckless spending would kill this country. Although I approve of Trump’s shaking things up and challenging the U.S. political establishment, I cannot…

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Posted in current events, madness, opinion, politics, rants, war | Leave a Comment »

Racism, White Privilege, Han Privilege, British Royal Privilege, and Trump

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 22, 2016

white
I think the word racism is used far too often. If the photo at top is real, then, yes, in the classic definition of the word, they are racist: (the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.) People should probably be more specific about the behavior they wish to condemn. In many Western countries, we see power concentrated in white male hands, with white females slowly becoming part of that elite, so people talk about “white privilege”. In China, racism is expressed as “Han privilege”, in that members of the Han race are the dominant group among the races that they assimilated.
 
Many people have strong prejudices, both positive and negative about other people, and tend to associate with only certain people. It is difficult to condemn people for doing that, as it is common around the world. People also condemn others for being redneck, rich, dumb, intellectual, lazy, workaholics, etc, and we all do this to some extent. What is that behavior? and how is it different if the people are of a different race? Racism and/or prejudice only become important when used by those in power, to keep themselves in power, by virtue of their superior race. Once upon a time, royalty did the same thing to maintain their power, basing that power solely on their “divine nature” as if their blood-lines were superior. That was not racism per se, although it didn’t stop the British from using racism to dominate the countries they took over, such as India, Ireland, Scotland, and all but 22 countries in the world.
 
Prejudices have always existed, but the origins of racism appear to be rooted in power. Those who have the power can use racism to maintain their power. Average working people rarely have the power to isolate and take advantage of an entire race of people, but we can be used to help do so. Trump is a good example of someone with power using people’s ethnicity as a way to inflame hatred and achive greater power by uniting people of the dominant power structure, and convincing them that he is on their side, so giving him more power will also be of great benefit to them. He lies.

Posted in current events, madness, opinion, politics, race, rants | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Women Still Excite Me, Even In Holding

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 14, 2016

So, I got a message that I was booked on T@gged, season 2, for a day. I’m a background actor these days, in addition to making  and selling wine. People try to not use the term “extra” anymore, preferring the more accurate “background actor”, and probably for two reasons. Firstly, it is a bit more accurate, in that you’re not just standing there. You get directed, to walk here, eat, drink, talk, or pretend to talk, clap your hands, or just pretend to, ride a horse, drive a car, etc. But you do it primarily without speaking lines.

Secondly, many of the background are indeed actors, with lines, in local independent movies, usually without pay. I’ve done some of that, and a short movie I was in, WelcomeMatt, will show here in town a week from today. Neither I, nor anyone else in the short, have seen the final product, and it was shot three years ago. However, it has been shown at movie festivals, and it has garnered four awards so far: Best Male Actor (Feature), Best Short Film, Best Produced Screenplay, and Best Comedy/Dramedy.

and there’s this: -^ny-indie-film-awardAnd no, the best male actor award was not for me. I was a supporting actor, very early in the movie, a corporate executive who fires the main character, Matt. I had a number of lines of dialogue with Matt and helped set up the premise of the movie, so they couldn’t cut too much of me out. So, I know I’m in the movie, but that’s all. I’m also pretty sure that my performance was crap, since I’ve learned a lot in the last three years about acting in front of a camera, and how different that is from stage acting, and how difficult it is. I was totally stressed during shooting. I had studied my lines hard, but was nervous about remembering them. Hah! That was the easy part.

I’m calmly sitting there at a desk, ready to go, when the camera crew come in, and the sound guys, and the script supervisor, and the director, etc, and there’s all this activity, talking, lights, and a boom microphone over my head. I say my lines, and then again, and again, and again. And my actions get modified a bit, and sometimes Matt isn’t even in the scene, and I’m talking to thin air. And the camera moves to another position, and we do it all over again, and the director tells me to do this, or not do that. Then the camera moves behind me so they can record Matt’s reactions. And suddenly I can’t remember my lines for crap, even with the scripty’s help, and the director tells me to read ’em off the script if I have to, “I don’t care how you do it, just do the lines.”

So, since I’m sitting at a desk covered in papers, some of them become pages of script and I get through it. Although I’ve been dying to see myself perform, I’m apprehensive about my performance, to say the least, and not sure if I should even tell anyone close to me about it, but I already have. Good or bad, I have to live with this performance.

So, since then, I learned about background acting, which is something I get paid to do. For the last two years, I’ve been background in about 20 movies or TV shows. I got to be a stand in/photo double on the TV show Night Shift. I was an actor in a short silent movie, and am currently cast in a TV pilot that has yet to begin shooting. The shooting has been postponed for the last year, but we hear, “Soon, soon.”

mcentees-soup

McEntee’s Soup

The locations are not yet confirmed, and the director was replaced and the entire script rewritten, so all my lines I’d been working on changed.

I still go to auditions, and don’t hear much back. I’ve  some lines to videotape myself doing, and then send them in for a preliminary audition. I’m also getting a tape made of myself doing a short monologue, because that’s something you’re expected to have ready when you apply to audition for the big movies.

But, still, I keep on doing background for whatever I can, like

T@gged (Verizon’s go90 original series).

tgged_cast

Some of the main actors

So, I was on the T@gged set Monday, from 6:15 pm until 5:30 am Tuesday. There was a lot of waiting. We were at a local high school in the cafeteria. I kept wandering around the school, walking, and walking. I had forgotten to bring a book, something I know I have to bring. I saw a young woman reading a paperback book. I saw a woman reading a book on an electronic device. Some people watched videos and movies. Some played games. Some talked. Some told jokes. But they pay us, right? So we wait. Martha, an actor I’d met recently, sat with people I know, and I said hello. She showed me a picture she had on her phone of the two of us at a Film Foundation event where we’d recently seen each other. Great photo. We’d auditioned together once, and had gotten to know each other. She has a similar scientific background like myself, and she’s a good pool player,

pool-shark-2a

Pool shark

very intelligent, and good looking, but married with two young kids. I enjoy her company. She smiles a lot, and looks really good. For some reason my eyes keep following the bouncy movements of her breasts, loose in her low-cut blouse. Soft and smooth, and so inviting. But, well, she’s a friend, and married, and a coworker in this background acting, and I really can’t tell when I’m being inappropriate or if there’s flirting going on. And I’m quite a bit older than her anyway, and I shouldn’t jeapordize a friendship by being my own creepy self. And she got picked to go on set long before I did, so she was gone.

And then there is this amazingly sexy redhead, Alla, who shows up on most movies I’m background in, and I spent time speaking with her, and she was having stomach problems, and she thought it was because she had been wearing this extremely tight corset for a prodution she is working on, and she said her internal organs are squashed and bruised, so that’s why she feels so bad. And she said she needed something hot to drink, and when coffee was available, I suggested it, but she wasn’t sure coffee would be good for her, and there was no tea or hot water, and finally she got up and got coffee, and we talked some more, and she is very friendly, and my roving eyes keep noticing her unfettered tits bouncing around in her low-necked blouse, and I liked her exposed freckles, and what the hell is wrong with me anyway? Why am I being such a dick? Can’t I just be friends with women without checking them out, without fantasizing about their bodies? Most of the time I’m good. I look women in the eyes when speaking with them. I listen to what they say. I converse, I’m friendly, I’m helpful, I’m considerate, and a good boy scout. In fact, I don’t find most women attractive anymore. But I was getting turned on. I can’t say why. I don’t think this woman finds me attractive, but Alla is good looking, with a fine – I mean really fine, taut and lithe – body. alla-091316-1a

Finally the production assistant asked us to go hang out outside, because our scene was coming up. We milled around for some time, but they finally came to start letting people into the auditorium where the action was. But, out of around 200 background actors called in that day, they only took 55 initially. The rest of us went back to waiting. Around 2 am we had lunch (pizza). The 55 came out and ate also. The crew ate. The cast ate somewhere else. The 55, cast and crew went back in.

But, getting back to the young woman reading a paperback. I noticed her sitting across the cafeteria when I first got in line to obtain my pay voucher, fill in the four pages, get signed in, and then approved by wardrobe. It takes awhile to get all that done. She had done all that already. She never moved from where she sat, and I swear she seemed to be looking at me, watching me. She had glasses on, reddish hair, and tattoos. She had that book with her. After I was signed in, I sat with friends, but she had moved across the cafeteria. I could’t take my attention off of her. I kept glancing across the room at her, kept trying not to stare, and looking away when she looked my way. (I may be creepy, but I try not to appear that way.) That went on for hours. I watched her read her book, except when we were all interrupted by announcements of pending action that didn’t materialize until so much later.

During lunch I missed her, but I went outside and found her sitting on a wall. Not wanting to scare her, I sat down a little distance away at a table, facing obliquely to her, without saying anything. She looked my way from time to time; I tried to look at her surreptitiously. Once, we made eye contact and I smiled at her. A production assistant come out and made an annnouncement. I made a comment about it to her, and she replied, but went back to reading her book. A pleasant, not-unfriendly voice. Somehow I found encouragement in that, even though she is young, and I’m not. At one point we all went back into the cafeteria for an announcement. She went back to reading across the cafeteria from me, and I was restless. When she crossed her legs I could see her tattooed thighs.

I finally decided I was going to introduce myself to her and went over. Her name is Nicole, with just the c. She was reading the second Game of Thrones novel. We talked about it, and fantasy fiction, and science fiction. Even though she’d been alone all this time, some guy suddenly walks up and asks her about the Game of Thrones book, and starts talking to her about the ones he’s read, and I’m like, what the hell? where did you come from? and why now? But he wandered off after a bit, and Nicole and I talked some more.

Later, we had to move close to the actual set to prepare for going in. We managed to sit closely enough to talk. I said a few things to her. She wasn’t freaked out or put off. When we finally got to go into and fill up the auditorium, I lost track of her, even though I’d been fantasizing about sitting with her. Looking for an empty seat, I actually found her sitting alone, stood there a moment, and she noticed me. I moved into the row before anyone else could, asking if I could sit next to her, and saying something lame about wanting to sit close enough to be on camera. She was unconcerned about that herself, just happy to be sitting in a comfortable chair instead of those metal stools in the cafeteria. As part of our job, we had to react to events on the stage in front of us, gasping, or murmuring. I turned to her, but she usually turned the other way, and I turned to the woman on my other side as well. Once Nicole did turn towards me and murmured something about the action on stage. During breaks between action, we did manage to speak a few times. She felt cold. (It was freezing in there.) I didn’t want to to blurt out the trite line about being able to warm her up, but I sure would have liked to snuggle. She said she was going to climb under three blankets when she got home. You know where my mind went. She mentioned getting hungry again. At four in the morning, trapped on a closed set, there wasn’t much we could do about that.

Finally, about 5 am, the assistant director said we were wrapped and to head out. I said good night to her, and told her, truthfully, that I was happy to have met her, and enjoyed talking with her. As I headed for a door, she was behind me, but turned and headed out another door. I saw her already near the front of the line to get her pay voucher signed. I had put mine outside in my car with my extra sets of clothes. You don’t want to lose your pay voucher. So, by the time I got it, and got in line, Nicole was a hundred people away, and I was near the back of the line. I saw her turn my way, and tried to wave, but she didn’t seem to notice. I never saw her again. I tried to find her on Facebook, without any luck. A first name is not much to go on. Why didn’t I get her phone number? It didn’t seem appropriate. I didn’t have any reason to ask, and I know how creeped out young women get by older men hitting on them.

I went home and slept. It took a while to shake off the effects of the coffee I’d been drinking, and I only slept a few hours. I got up and fed the cats, went outside for my jeans which were still in the car and noticed a box on the patio; something I’d ordered had been dropped over the gate by Fed-X while I’d slept. The gate had been swollen from rain overnight. I opened that, looked for mail at the mailbox kiosk, and ate breakfast. Later I decided I was too sleepy to read, or screw around on the internet, so I took a nap. But, boy howdy, did I wake up horny! Suddenly all my fantasizing caught up wtih me, and I had an erection I could open a door with. I figured it would go away, and tried to go back to sleep, but it was not having anything to do with that! It had been some time since I’d had an erection like that pop up on me out of the blue. Then I noticed it was 3:30 and I had to be somewhere at 5:00. So I got up, but the penis stayed ramrod straight, and I didn’t even have to pee. I was regretting not having gotten Nicole’s number, and that made me think of her, and how much I lusted for her, and that erection wasn’t going anywhere. And I thought about her, and Martha, and Alla, and I grabbed some lotion, and I spent 45 minutes imagining myself with any one of them, and I erupted into a gloriously delayed orgasm, and wondered again why I was by myself.

Posted in humor, Life, love, madness, My Life, rambling, sex | Leave a Comment »

Imperfect as I am

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 21, 2016

I am a very imperfect man, with many flaws. That said, I’m going to tell you some things about the concert I went to this morning. There is a classical concert 50 Sundays mornings of the year here. I do not go every Sunday. For one thing, it costs $15, and since there are espresso baristas who provide great free coffee, tipping is a nice thing to do. There are people who bring fresh home-baked sweets as well, and there is another tip jar there, so it’s easy to spend $17, and I’m not going to do that every Sunday. Besides, sometimes the music is choral, or operatic, and I’m not going to those. I like my classical music, old or modern, to be instrumental only. Perhaps that’s a flaw, but I do not care to change it.

Bach concert

This was Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach, to be exact. Born 1685, died 1750. It was a sold out concert accommodating 150 ticket purchasers, and the volunteers who make it possible. The first part of the program was performed by a fantastic cellist who was solo cellist of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Norway, among other positions in the U.S. She played Suite No. 4 for solo cello in E-flat major. It is a complicated piece, and a very busy one, with seven parts. I remember thinking how thickly populated with notes it was. The notes seemed mostly brisk and sharp without long duration. Since I am not a musician, I cannot speak technically about the music, but it rocked! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in coffee, eremiticism, Life, madness, misanthropy, My Life, opinion, Random Thoughts, relationships, Writing | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The way of life or system of being a hermit

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 10, 2016

Another Sunday morning, although, truth be told, it’s just another day. I wandered over to the Flying star cafe for some good coffee – 2 shots of espresso diluted with a bit of hot water – and some breakfast, because I get tired of the stuff I make.

It’s nice to get out of the house too, but I can’t say I like the crowds on a Sunday. Way too many people all at once, and many talk as if what they have to say is really important, loud and clear words cutting through all the other mindless chatter. And I brought a book with me that I use to shut ’em all out, but it’s hard to do. They come in at times, standing next to me, looking for a place to sit, and we all know how busy the place is on a Sunday, but they look anyway, thinking there’ll be room just for them. Important assholes.

I never understand why half of ’em don’t go up or down the road to where there are dozens of food or coffee joints. It’s probably too busy for ’em there, too many people, too many cars. But they come here, here where’s just a bookstore and a cafe, and they pack the parking lot full to bursting, and the latecomers drive around and around looking for that spot that must be waiting just for them somewhere. And the tables are mostly full, and although they know it, they come with groups of five or six and expect to find room. And they ask me if I’m using one of the extra chairs at my table, and I pull my eyes away from my book and say no. And I go back to reading, and sure enough, another group has come in, and another one of them asks me for another chair.

And I just want to tell them to go somewhere else. When they arrive before I do, and they stand lined up from the order counter, and the line snakes around past the door and heads north, I just turn around and go back home. It’s just not worth it to stand quietly in line while people talk loudly about nothing, and have no idea what they want to eat when they finally make it to the counter. And most of ’em come from the rich houses a little north of here, and they have big dining rooms and kitchens, and lots of chairs, but they want to squeeze in here where they pretend their words matter. And their big expensive houses are empty except when they come home at night and sleep in them.

And I grow more impatient with humanity. And I lean to eremiticism. Sometimes I am lonely, but more and more I’m just alone, because I just can’t stand to hear humanity babbling, especially when the babbling rises to a dull roar. I grew up with six siblings, and you’d think I’d be more accustomed to background noise. When I first left home, I missed the sound of other people in the house, low conversations, or toys being fought over, or crying or toilet flushing. I used to think I’d prefer that to living alone, because as much as I enjoy solitude, the loniliess creeps up on me and it aches. And the aching makes me aware of just how alone I really am, despite my reluctant acceptance of being a recluse, because, well, maybe I’m not a true hermit.

     I could be a cenobite, but I’m not religious, and I no longer want to be part of any community, I think. And yet, something drives me across the street to eat at the cafe. I am a hermit in a crowd, but the crowd bugs me. At the same time, I have been trying out for parts in movies, and I must, of necessity, be around other people, interact with them, and act. I’m good at acting. I think most of us are, because we act differently around each group of people we get around. I feel as though that’s how I’ve gotten through life, acting here, acting there. I smile when I’m not happy. I talk because people expect it, but usually I’d rather not. Conversation, to me, is private, shared one at a time with someone I trust and like to be around, but there are so few of those.

Blogging is almost ideal. I get to talk without listening, something most of humanity seems to prefer. We talk at each other, and listen for the pause that allows us to speak again. It’s all a big pause here. I can type and type and type, and maybe someone will read it, and maybe no one will, and that’s OK. But something drives me to write and put these words out where someone might read them, and I don’t know why.

And, just like a semicolon in a sentence, like the one tattooed on my arm, I know there’s more to come. I haven’t finished what I have to say just yet.

semicolon

And, I suppose that’s a good thing! After all, a few months ago, a man drove his car here and parked by the cafe and blew his brains out all over the inside of his car. I guess he had nothing more to say. Was he lonely, or just sad? Was he terribly troubled? Was he in pain from loss? Was he dying of some incurable or painful disease? I’ll never know. It saddened me, me, a recluse. Why should I care? if I don’t care about humanity? Perhaps I can only care in small doses. Humanity is just too big. There are too many. Too many.

Posted in coffee, eremiticism, Life, madness, misanthropy, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts, rants | Leave a Comment »

Dreaming of Random Acts of Sex and Situations Intolerable

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 1, 2014

One Foot Over the Line 2 Woke up this morning early, dreaming. I had stayed up until 1:00 am, but I was wide awake at 5:30am. I ran a lot last evening, in the rain, with lightning just a few miles away. It was the first time I’d run in the rain. I liked it; I was able to keep my body temp down while running. Cool, in reality.

The doves are cooing and I have my coffee now. I decided to post because my dream fascinated me. In my dream, I had decided to live on the street. I know, I know, one does not just “decide” to do such a thing, but hey, it was a dream. I had some sort of small tent or structure over me, and I was under a large blanket, peering out at life on the street. Part of me wondered what I’d done with all my stuff. That part of my brain decided that I still had a car and had my stuff in that.

As I peered out, I saw a couple I knew. I knew the male better than his partner, but they came over and looked in at me. Suddenly the woman was getting into my tent, box or whatever it was I was in, and she was naked. So was I. She climbed under my blanket and lay on top of me. Her skin was warm and smooth. I was in heaven. Then, of course, this guy also came in. He seemed a bit hesitant at first, but he came in and lay down next to the woman. I had no idea what was going on.

In fact, I quickly realised that the two people didn’t know who I was, that I was out of context, and in the poor light available, they hadn’t recognised me, as I had thought. That raised interesting questions to me. Did they do this sort of thing all the time? Did they seek out homeless men to sleep with? Should I tell them I know them? As I pondered ways to shock them with my knowledge of their identity and introduce myself, I realized I’d forgotten their names, which killed my element of surprise, so I said nothing about myself.

Realizing that they were probably expecting sex, especially since the woman had her hand on my erection, but I wasn’t into either this ménage à trois stuff, or sex with men, I wasn’t sure what to say or do. The male asked me if it was alright. I said I wasn’t into men sexually. He asked me why. I told him that men just didn’t turn me on, and he, of course, wanted to know why I wasn’t curious. I told him, I had been curious, but I had gotten over that. I went into a reverie, and could no longer tell if I was just in my head or speaking out loud.

I remembered my roommate from when I’d first left home. He was into young boys, his words. I accepted that about him, but came to realize he was also intererested in me. In fact, he was four years older than me. I’d thought of him as a friend, but he had other ideas. Nothing ever came of that, not for lack of trying on his part, but I’d had to punch him a bit to finally dissuade him.

Shortly after that experience, my best friend had been a lesbian. That doesn’t mean that I learned anything from the experience, but years later, on a trip to Canada, where my old roommate had become an expatriate, I had needed his help getting across the border, after a run in with the border cops, and I was staying in his apartment. He made it clear I couldn’t stay long, as he couldn’t afford to feed me. It was clear that he wanted me to feel grateful for his help, and he told me to go ahead and make myself breakfast while he went off to work. I had very little money at that point, having lost $50, half of all the money I’d had a few days earlier, and I was feeling a bit desperate.

When he came home later, it seemed clear from a number of things he said, that, if I were to be open to sex, he could possibly put me up longer. That was consistant with his previous attempts, and I figured I should consider that. However, the sight of him naked didn’t excite me, in fact, I was totally flaccid, and couldn’t get it up anyway. That seemed to settle the issue for him. Somehow, people always seem to assume one can get into something they have no interest in, if only they try. It often doesn’t work for heterosexual relationships; so there wasn’t any reason to expect it would work for a homosexual relationship either, except that young men seem to always be ready for sex at any time.

I really do think that there has to be some physical attraction, and some hormonal signaling, for this whole sexual attraction thing to work. I don’t think one should ever have sex with someone one is not attracted to. Random sex with strangers is just not a good idea, in my opinion.

So, that is what I told the couple. The woman still wanted to have sex with me, and, as had happened before, the man said he would just watch. I had turned down that offer as a young man, but I was very much interested in this woman, so I was considering it when I woke up.

Ah well, it would have been a much more interesting dream, I think.

Once, while I was young, tanned and muscular, I met a couple who invited me to their home for a party, and since I didn’t have a car, they drove me there. However, there was no party, except for the three of us, and the man had made that offer: I could have sex with his wife, if he could watch. It was the first I’d ever heard of such a thing. I considered it for a nanosecond, but at 25 years of age, I turned them down. I felt vulnerable, and a bit worried about what would happen. Rape came to mind. Being bound and tortured came to mind. But, most of all, I knew damn well I couldn’t have enjoyed myself with the woman with anyone else watching, much less her husband.

Once I told them I wasn’t interested, we had a few drinks, talked some, and slept, since it was very late at night. I slept on the couch and they didn’t bother me. In the morning they drove me back to where I lived. I never heard from them again, but it was fascinating to learn that there where people who did such things.

I don’t know why all this bubbled out of memory last night.

Perhaps I was curious about what my stepdaughter was up to. She had texted me to pick her up from work, but hadn’t said where she was going, Her evening class was over, and I thought she might want to have me take her food shopping, since she doesn’t drive. However, she had wanted me to take her to a certain bar, a favorite of hers, one not far from where I live. I was going to be running with my running group, and would have to turn around as soon as I dropped her off, and go right back to near where I’d picked her up. I remarked on that, since I thought it was kind of funny. She was apologetic, as she thought it would be easy for me, since I’d be so close to my home.

I asked her if she was meeeting someone, and she said, “Yes.” I asked her if she was having dinner or just drinks. She said, “Dinner.” And she said, “Bye, See you next time.” I was curious who she was meeting, but she didn’t seem to want to say, or give me any information; I was curious why.

I love that woman a lot. She inspired me to run. She runs a lot, always has, except during her cancer treatment. It took a lot of work on her part to get back into running, but she runs marathons these days. I ran a half-marathon last year for the first time ever, four months after my heart attack, and will run one this year. She will run a full marathon at the same time, probably in little more time as it takes me to do a half.

When I got back from my run last night, I thought about stopping into the bar where she was, but I know she likes her privacy. I remember thinking that I’d have joined her if she’d asked, but three can be a crowd, and anyway, we don’t hang out much anymore.

So, perhaps that is why that threesome idea permeated my dreams. It’s not that either of us would ever comtemplate such a thing as the stuff of my dreams, but I was lonely, and I’d have enjoyed some dinner company. Boy, do I have to be careful that she never knows I even connected her vaguely with the kind of things I dream about. She’d be horrified. I’d hate that. When I say I love this woman, I mean it. I love her with all my heart, and always want her to have a great life. I’d love her even if I never saw her again, but I hope that doesn’t happen.

Some day, she’ll be married, with a kid perhaps. Maybe we’ll drift further apart. I used to drive her to and from work, but she doesn’t need me for that anymore, just an occasional lift here and there. I’m divorced from her mother these last seven years, and her mother avoids me like I have bubonic plague. No communication or reapproachment with that one. She’d kill me if she believed I had any designs on her daughter. Hell, my stepdaughter would quickly terminate all ties with me too, if she thought I’d ever thought of such things, even in a vague association with a dream.

I don’t know why I even brought it up. It is nice to have someone to love like her, even in a non-sexual, platonic way. In fact, I’d find life a whole lot less tolerable without her. It’s bad enough my cat got eaten by coyotes. “Situations tolerable” the Traveling Wilburys sang, and really, my life could be worse, but it could be better.

Posted in 1960s, Dreams, Life, love, madness, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts, relationships, sex | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Killing is NOT the Same Thing as Murder

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on December 24, 2013

Why is that?

Killing It is so, because murder is a legal term for killing not sanctioned by society. If all killing were murder, then executions would be murder. If all killing was murder, then any death in wartime would be murder: killing the enemy? murder. Friendly fire? murder. collateral damage? murder.  Because we sanction those things, we do not define them as murder. Recently I came across the comparison of the fines and penalties for harming the eggs of protected species, like Eagles, and human fetuses.  fetus The argument appears to be that if it’s wrong to destroy eagle eggs, then it is wrong to kill human fetuses as well. This does not follow logically. The Eagle, for one, although recovering, is an endangered species, and the fine is an attempt to allow that species to continue. Does anyone, really, anyone, believe that abortion is killing the human race? That we are in danger of dying out as a species because of abortion? No, of course not. Hell, we continue to proliferate, for now. What does threaten the survival of the human race is pollution of the air and water, and eradication of too many animal species. Life on Earth is a balancing act.

When we kill off entire species, we remove an element from the balance. For example, animals are usually either prey for some other animal, or prey on some other animal, or are both. If a species goes, its actions in the balance of things go too. The result can be overpopulation of that animals prey, or an absence of prey for others, whether it was mammalian or insect, or aquatic in nature. Sometimes, another animal can fill the void, sometimes not. Sometimes, the death of a species results in the death of many other species. Some argue we are in the middle of just such an effect now, where the death of so many thousands of species has reached a point of cascade, wherein it is impossible to stop, and we will be left with only humans, for a short time. For, regardless of whether one is vegetarian or not, humans are dependent on animal life for our survival.

There are so many interactions between animals and plants, between animals and insects (another animal, but I’m making a point here), between animals and the air we breathe and the water we drink. Humanity would cease to exist long before the last animal species was wiped out, because it is a co-dependancy. A good example of co-dependancy  is that between wolves and deer. Too many wolves, and the deer are removed. Not enough wolves, and the deer overpopulate, then overgraze the available resources and die out en masse from starvation. Huntings laws help keep that balance, but hunting laws are not going to keep us alive when all the predators are gone, or when all the prey is, or when all the bugs are gone. There are billions upon billions of interactions in the world that result in life for humans, and we can’t imitate them all.  That’s the reason for endangered species laws.

Be all that as it may be, however, I’ve strayed too far from the point. The point is that killing is not murder, legally. abortionAbortion is NOT murder, legally. There is a movement among Evangelical Christians to define life as beginning from the moment of conception, frivolous and stupid idea that it is.  Does the world celebrate birthdays or conception days? Most of us know that life begins at birth. No one wants to see a baby killed. However, killing living, breathing human beings is almost universally illegal, except for executions, and in war, or self-defense, or by accident. Killing is not and cannot ever be considered murder in all cases. Killing a fetus is just such a case.

Killing a human fetus, is not, for the time being, murder. There was a time when it was. Murder is a relative term, depending entirely on what the society making the laws believes.

For, if killing a fetus is murder, regardless of the law, then so is execution, war, and accidental death. We don’t seem to agree on this. A number of fundamentalist zealots want life defined as beginning from the moment of conception, so they can justify making all abortion illegal. However, almost all of them accept execution, and war, and do not want those things to be illegal. It is a very inconsistent, illogical and convenient. Is all killing murder? or not? Does a woman who slips and falls, kill her fetus? or a woman who is involved in a car accident or other such incident that results in the fetus’s death kill that fetus? Are they murderers? How many exceptions will the believers accept in order to make abortion illegal again?

But then, there is that other question. If one is opposed to all killing, and all killing is murder, then eating animals is certainly murder, for animals are often cruelly killed, tortured and abused in the process of becoming what we refer to as meat. meat Dead animal flesh is dead animal flesh. The animal had to be killed for that. If killing is murder, than eating meat condones murder. Hah! you say? animals are not human. Why is that? Very convenient. We can kill, that is, terminate any life we want, as long as it isn’t what society defines as human. Funny how most animal fetuses, including human fetuses, look exactly alike in the womb at some point. It is in the development that a fetus becomes an animal or a human. So somehow, people argue, animals and people are not the same, and it is OK to kill animals for food, even if they resemble us, because well, they are not human – by law. Again, it is a legal fiction that animals and people are not protected from killing in the same way. There are animal cruelty laws, but those usually apply only to pets, and ranch animals like horses, which often are a kind of pet. Slaughterhouses kill every day, and we don’t blink an eye at that.

So again, I have to ask, why is a human fetus, unborn, not yet even breathing, more important than a living, breathing animal? The historical answer has always been: the soul. Biblical teachings have it that human beings are special, and are thus endowed with souls. Animals have no soul, therefore, it is legal to kill them. And, kill them we do, in the millions every day, and yet it is not murder, because we do not define it as such. So it is with abortion: when it is legal, it is not murder.

So, the whole question of abortion as murder comes down to this soul, a religious belief that sets humans apart from animals, for the purpose of allowing us to kill animals without shame or repercussion.

Some people do not believe in the concept of souls.

Some people believe that all living things have souls.

Some people selectively believe that only humans have souls.

So, what life-begins-at-conception laws and anti-abortion laws really are, are an attempt to impose, legally, the belief on all people, that souls exist, that a human fetus, alone of all creatures, has a soul, and therefore cannot be killed. This attempt is only possible if one does not care what other people believe. Lately, I see all these complaints from the politically-motivated-religious right that they are being persecuted for their beliefs. Somehow, it is persecution to resist their attempts to force their beliefs on those of us who do not share those beliefs. This has happened throughout the history of religion. Those who believe have killed those who do not believe the same things in the same way. “That was in the past,” they say. Bull. It is happening again. This same group of self-righteous religious fanatics wants to make providing access to abortion, or having an abortion a Capital Crime. Again, those motivated by their belief that they are right and the rest of us are wrong, want to kill everyone who does not accede to their beliefs, and they want it to be legal to do so.

That is the essence of religion: do what I say, or you will die, for I am right, and you are wrong. And you seriously think I shouldn’t be offended by that? You seriously think I shouldn’t fear your blatant attempts to legislate your particular brand of morality? to make everyone follow your beliefs by law? Christianity

THINK AGAIN.

Posted in crime, current events, faith, Human rights, Life, madness, opinion, politics, rambling, Random Thoughts, rants, religion, war, World | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Dream a little dream of…, what?

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on December 2, 2013

I have the most bizarre dreams sometimes, but I forget them quickly. This one stuck with me. I’ve a friend I see occasionally. We used to travel a bit with a group that visited state monuments, went rafting, saw the sights, etc. She is the daughter of an old lover, from many, many years ago. She is 30 years old. Lately she has returned to school to work on a graduate degree, so she doesn’t get out much. However, she does like to catch movies from time to time, and set up a regular trip to the dollar theater for anyone who wanted to share. I was part of that group, but, eventually, it dwindled down to me and her. She is a lovely woman, bright and funny, and good-looking. I enjoy her company. We don’t date, as she considers me a family friend. Even after her mom had dumped me for another guy, I was still invited to family gatherings, especially after that guy dumped her mom, and she has since remarried and divorced two more times.

Anyhoo. This dream was about Mona Mona (name altered to protect the innocent). Mona is attractive to me, but off-limits. And, after all, she is quite a bit younger. In this weird dream, Mona decided one day that we could be lovers after all. I was really excited about that, and, oddly, in this dream, we were going to move in together, before we even had sex. We went to a house that belonged to neither of us, perhaps the new one we’d be living in and ended up in bed quickly. Now, that was a scenario I was really happy about. I would love to see her naked. I would love to fuck her, perverted old man that I am. In bed, Mona was next to me, naked. I swung her over on top of me, and in the process spread her legs wide. Instantly, this tremendous fart escaped from her, and I could feel it on my toes! I could even smell it, but it was not so terrible. Mona was really embarrassed, but I told her it was no big deal, and it didn’t matter to me; in fact, I laughed. She laughed with me, but then, of course, I woke up. Damn. I would have enjoyed the sex part. Well, fantasies are fantasies, and sometime they must remain so.  Mona Sigh.

I treasure Mona’s friendship. I do not want to alienate her. However, the last time we saw a movie, the weather was still warm. Mona wore a short-sleeved shirt, and as we got up to leave out seats, our arms brushed together. The sensation was electric! (No, it wasn’t static electricity). The sensation was one of extreme pleasure. I know from that what the effect of climbing into bed with her would be. Be all that as it may be, however, Mona is a masseuse. We had arranged a massage session for after the movie. Mona has a massage table, and oils, and incense at her house. The massage took an hour. Mona took the pain out of my neck, and rubbed all of my body from my neck to my toes, except for my penis, of course. She’s not that kind of masseuse! It was a wonderful massage. There was no sexual element to it at all. I was extremely relaxed, and did not experience an erection, which I was afraid I would, given how sexy Mona is. It was the best massage I’d ever had, without any element of sex involved, although I was indeed naked. Mona rubbed my arms and legs and kneaded my back. She worked my neck good. It was heaven.

I’m not sure I should relate this dream to Mona, but I’d sure like to share it with her. She has a good sense of humor, but I’d hate to have her think I’m dreaming about sex with her. That might make future movies or massages difficult. I always seem to find ways to alienate women.

 

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Opinion, 2042

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 23, 2012

page 24A ☼☼☼Wednesday, April 23, 2042 ☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼The Morning News☻
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EDITORIALS / OPINION

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                                                                                                                   2020

It is a measure of visual acuity. It was a popular TV news program. It is also the year Mars was first touched by a human.  It is the year the United States lost its technological edge, its pride in leadership and exploration.

By 2020, the United States’ economy had spent too many years fluctuating between extreme lows and mediocre progress. Attempts by every President and Congress to address the problem had done little. Military spending had increased, and the short-term effects had kept the economy going, but military spending does not have any positive long-term effects. It is not an investment in the future; it does not improve infrastructure, education, health care, technology or knowledge of our solar system.

There was a significant improvement during the Clinton administration, when both president and legislators cut government spending and waste, and concentrated on reducing the national debt. Of course, all of this effort was for nought, considering the money spent during the next administration on the invasion and occupation of two countries simultaneously. The cost in human lives was great, but the devastation wrought on the U.S. economy was greater.

Subsequent administrations tried once again, to tackle the ailing economy. Greater money than ever was authorized by Congress to jump start a recovery. The hemorrhaging loss of jobs stopped, but new jobs were slow to materialize. Taxes were cut again and again, but still the effects on the economy were slight. The national debt continued to grow. Politicians clamored for more war, for greater military spending, as if shaking our military might at the world was enough to save us. It wasn’t. Taxes were cut again. Few in the U.S. realized that we had already lost our way. A country that had grown great through exploration and innovation no longer had such goals. There was no vision to inspire us to grow, to innovate, to change. Fear of terrorism still dominated our lives, as we gave into the very purposes of terrorist attacks: to inspire fear, to focus almost exclusively on defensive and offensive capabilities, at great expense to ourselves.

Meanwhile, although the rest of the world was having similar problems with economic disasters, they had learned, from the United States, not to give in to despair and ennui. In the 1960s, in the United States, despite an economy-busting war in Vietnam, we had a space program dedicated to landing on and exploring the moon. Despite the costs of running that war, and investments made in social programs, we still found the time and money to land on the moon, to explore it, to participate in building Earth’s fist space station. Spin-offs from our space program gave us new technologies, and inspired ever greater innovation. We had pride in our country, in our goals, in our technology, and in our education system. All wanted our country as a whole to succeed, to grow, and to become the best.

In Australia, in Asia, and in Europe, people still believe in setting inspirational goals. One of them was the continued human exploration of space, the idea all but abandoned by the U.S. They worked tirelessly to send human beings into space, to move beyond our small lunar satellite to the planets. They mined near-Earth asteroids, and then they put mankind on Mars. To be accurate, the first footprints made on Mars were female, but humankind had reached another planet, and far sooner than near-sighted politicians and educators in the U.S. had envisioned. Cuts to the operating budgets of NASA crippled plans to land on Mars; the goal was pushed farther and farther back, until 2037 was the earliest possible date for a U.S. Mars attempt. Innovation was taken away from government, and left to private citizens. This was admirable in it’s reliance on capitalism and entrepreneurism, but investors were loath to invest the money necessary to reach near-Earth asteroids, Mars or the other planets in our solar system. Robots landed on Mars, the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko,  and several asteroids, but the start-up money necessary to successfully mine, transfer, and process elements from the asteroids just wasn’t available to the few wealthy individuals who believed in the work.

Ferrying people into low Earth orbit did little to inspire the kind of creativity and wonder of the 1960’s space program. In fact, the role of the U.S. became little more than support for the efforts of other countries to grow their space programs. We needed their assistance just to maintain our own system of communication, defense, and navigation satellites. The information gleaned by our robotic exploration programs did much to advance Earth’s reach into space, but the U.S. reluctance to finance human exploration and establish base camps crippled our efforts to reap any benefits from our investments. The second space station went into operation without the participation of the United States. When China established their first moon base in 2020, we scoffed at the idea, claiming it was unimportant and insignificant. We knew that we would soon reach Mars. We just needed a little more time. Our economy wasn’t up for the task of massive spending on the establishment of bases in space. Unfortunately, despite their own economic woes, Australia, the European Union, and Japan followed suit by establishing bases on the moon, and set up processing facilities for the material coming from Chinese asteroids Ni and Hao.

Still, the U.S. goals were robotic exploration, and perhaps a 2037 Mars landing. But we no longer had the guts to compete in any space race. Our politicians, right and left, wanted to focus on growing our economy through artificial means, believing that all would fall into place as soon as we cut taxes far enough, as soon as our government no longer had the burden of investing in social programs, education, health care, or the worry of caring for the aged. And still, we invested heavily, not in innovation, infrastructure, or space, but in war. It has been argued that we had no choice but to support Israel in their devastating attack on Iran, but, after, all, we were the ones who had advocated, and indeed, proven (to ourselves) that preëmptive strikes were perfectly justified in the name of security. The staggering costs of supporting Israel in their jihad crippled us far worse than anything we’d ever done. Significantly, NASA’s budget was cut further, and private enterprise could not pick up the slack as our economy spiraled ever closer to ruin.

The joint Soviet/Asian/Australian/EU Mars venture electrified the world in 2030. Not only had they landed on Mars before the United States thought possible, but their joint base was now the center of technological innovation. The newest methods of sub-surface mining, extrapolated from their earlier work with asteroids, provided not only the water necessary to make life on Mars possible, but also those rare elements on Earth that were nearly depleted and too costly. Cheap rare-earths and precious metals flow outward from several asteroids as well as Mars now, providing the means for each of those countries to grow exponentially.

The United States will reach Mars one day. We’ve passed our 2037 goal now, and there is the promise that we will reach Mars by 2050, and begin the reap the benefits thereof. In the meantime, food riots continue. We lack the national will to spend money on space exploration when so many are hungry and homeless. Even if martial law is lifted soon, as promised, we may never see the grandeur of our country restored. We have fallen too far behind. We are safe and secure behind our borders for now, although few people around the world any longer seek to cross our borders legally or illegally. We lost our edge, our will, our purpose.

Posted in 2000s, current events, fiction, Life, madness, Mars, opinion, politics, rambling, rants, space, war, World | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Women Have Always Been A Puzzle to Me

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 25, 2012

Those Women

Always a Puzzle to Me

 

Posted in Dreams, Life, love, madness, marriage, My Life, photography, Random Thoughts, relationships | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Flying Again

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 28, 2011

The last time I was preparing to fly, I felt a feeling of impending doom, although I did not associate that with the flight itself. Now, I wonder. Here I am about to board another plane within a month’s time, and I again feel apprehensive.  Could it be that I have developed a fear of flying? It seems odd, although not so much considering the use to which some planes have been put in this country. However, I’ve always loved flying, even though I don’t get to do it much.  I have been excited the last few days about going to my brother’s wedding on  the east coast. Celebratory gatherings are so much more fun than wakes.

Why, then, does my mind dwell on scenarios of fighting with terrorists, surviving a plane crash, losing my luggage, and even ending up homeless, wandering the world? Too much violence in the world, I suppose. Hard to feel safe anymore. Of course, that was the intention of the terrorists, and the huge expenditure of money from a government in deficit has helped their cause by wasting our tax money on overblown security precautions, and a new bloated government agency. No amount of expenditure is going to make us safe ever again, but we keep on spending money, throwing money away, building new screening machines, hiring more clueless, uneducated screening personnel, making every U.S. citizen a terror suspect. We keep looking over our shoulders, backwards, instead of looking ahead.

    

Can we really keep spending money like this, just to create a false sense of security? It doesn’t even work, if I am any indication. I don’t believe all this removing my shoes, emptying my pockets, being x-rayed and hassled, and having to suspect all my fellow passengers is making me any safer. Paranoia inevitably leads to fear, and to an inability to function. Look, people: flying has always been dangerous. Planes crash on a regular basis. More people die in car crashes, to be sure, but there is no way to guarantee passenger safety just by hoping that our laughingly inadequate security measures are really going to keep some nutjob from finding a way to sabotage a plane. It’s unlikely that the whole flying a plane into a major U.S. landmark thing is really what every terrorist in the world is planning next. Our security measures are predicated on stopping that from happening. Someone can still plant a bomb in luggage, or fire a rocket grenade at a plane landing or taking off.  Hell, to really inspire more terror, someone is not going to do the same thing that was done before.

The next time, there’s going to be a nuke, or at least a dirty bomb. Forget the planes, for crying out loud. We need to ensure that those nuclear plants are secure, that transportation of fissionable materials, and even nuclear waste is secure. We know this, and yet we permit our government to spend the bulk of our security money on securing our air travel? Jeez, enough already. Let’s monitor terrorists, investigate possible security lapses in protecting our power grids and oil and gas facilities. Let’s go back to working with every nation in the world to seek out and destroy terror cells, and cut off their funding. No funding, no travel. If the nutjobs want to blow each other up, let ’em. But if they can’t afford large bombs, intercontinental missiles, and even plane fare, then we’d be a lot safer.

Every day, people die in this country. Sometimes it’s from car crashes, bus crashes, plane crashes, gas line explosions, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, or accidents and homicides. Do we really think a few terrorists can do worse? I don’t. This is one huge MF-ing country. It can’t be taken down with a few explosions here and there. But we can fail, if we let fear dominate our everyday lives. We can fail if we use fear to win elections. We can fail if we keep seeing each other as the enemy. Some day, we need to stop fighting each other and work together to make this, again, a country that other nations envy, that everyone would like to imitate, not attack. People don’t hate us because of our freedom. They hate us because we threaten their way of life. Sure, some of them are just nuts, they strike out at power, because they are powerless. But, when we violate the sovereignty of other countries, when we exploit their resources, and attempt to impose, often simply economically, our way of life on other cultures, we create resentment. I think, maybe, we need to stop doing that.

Even the most powerful country on the face of the planet can fall under its own weight. Look at the Roman empire; look at the British empire. Look at the Third Reich. And those were just the most recent empires to fail. Throughout history nations and empires have risen and then fallen. If we want to remain a great nation, we have to represent more than a nation of powerful weapons and large armies. Spending all of our money and effort on weapons and security will not save us.

Are we with the rest of the world, or against it?

Posted in current events, Human rights, Life, madness, opinion, rambling, rants | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dreaming of a Woman Again

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 10, 2011

Haven’t had many dreams that I remember in some time. Maybe it’s because I sleep poorly. At any rate, my ex-wife was in my dream this morning. I hadn’t seen her in four years until just recently, when I spotted her dancing at a Salsa event one night. That was something we always did, mostly every week for fourteen years, so it upset me to see her dancing, knowing we could never dance again. She was on my mind for weeks after that, almost all the time. Spending time recently with my siblings and cousins, and laughing with them, broke the spell, and I hadn’t thought about her as much.

Suddenly, I’m dreaming about her this morning. In my dream, I run into her at a party at a friend’s house in the mountains. She asks me to go home with her, so we are driving up this steep mountain road to her place, somewhere deeper up in the mountains. She was always a drinker, so she has concocted a way to drink while driving. She is wearing one of those camelback water bags that hikers use, except that it is filled with wine. She attempts to take a drink from the tube but is having a hard time getting it to stay in her mouth. She is driving, and I realize she is drunk when she swerves across the road into the opposite lane of traffic. It is very late at night, so there is no other traffic, but there is some light snow on the highway, left over from an earlier storm. I am not concerned, as she has slowed way down, aware she is in the other lane. When she gets the wine tube in her mouth and takes a long swallow, she attempts to move back into the right lane when we see headlights behind us. So, she stops the car, on the left side of the road on the shoulder.  When the car passes, I look at her, realizing that she never used to drive when drunk. It was always my job to drive her home. I am wondering why I am not driving. I am wondering why I am with her at all, except I know I am still sexually attracted to her. Jokingly, I tell her that drinking WHILE driving will make them throw the book at her. She tells me to get out. It is cold, the wind is blowing powdery snow around the highway. I can’t believe she is serious. I tell her I was only joking. I want, after all, to go home with her.

All this thinking wakes me up: wrong part of the brain for dreaming, I guess.

I am left wondering why I would have a dream like that! Of course, the car ride could have been a metaphor for our marriage, but I don’t know why I would invent such an elaborate story. Perhaps I am correct, and it was a metaphor.

In a car = in the marriage

Worried about car ride = worried about marriage

Not in control of the car = not in control of marriage

Unwilling to get out of car = unwilling to get out of marriage

Warning her in car = telling her I was unhappy, wanted counseling

Cold, snow, mountain = there be monsters outside marriage

Pissed her off; she says get out = pissed her off; she said I had to go

I guess I never resolved that whole thing. I need to let go; thought I had.

Posted in Dreams, Life, love, madness, marriage, My Life, relationships, sex | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

He was survived by two cats

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 30, 2011

I have such an odd feeling, as though I have no future. I have cleaned up my house, put things away, and find myself thinking that it is ready for the estate sale after I die. It keeps running through my head that I haven’t much time left. Last night I even thought that my due date is coming up sooner than later. All bills are paid for the month. Rent check, book I sold, and Netflix movie are all in the mail.

I watched The Man Who Wasn’t There last night.  Perhaps it influenced me too much. In identifying with the protagonist, I ended up being depressed. Of course, I never have to dig too deep to find such feelings. Been that way for some time now. I don’t feel sad as such. I just have this gut feeling that I will die soon. I kept getting the idea running through my head last night that once I leave my house today I will never return. That could mean different things, but it’s hard to imagine not returning to my house if I’m still alive.

I hope someone takes care of my cats.

Posted in depression, Life, madness, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Photographer

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on May 15, 2011

She came into the room wearing only frilly pink panties. Her nipples were covered with black crosses of electrical tape. My heart jerked. My eyes felt like they popped out of my head. My hands were shaking; my legs were weak. I could barely speak.
I wanted to wrap my arms around her, pull that tape off with my teeth, taste her, lick her, feel her, fuck her. I wanted to give into my wild impulse and have sex on the spot, sex like no other: wild, uninhibited, hard.
Instead, I clicked the shutter shakily, again and again, over two hundred times. I am a photographer.

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The Dragon I Slept With

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on March 2, 2011

She said to me that I was lazy, that was why I was with her, that I was too lazy to look for love. She implied that was why I loved her. I think she felt she wasn’t good enough for anyone to fall in love with. She also said that I didn’t love her, I loved everyone. She was a hard person to love. She would not tell me she loved me, and, it’s likely she didn’t. She was never affectionate; she never touched me on her own. She was rarely passionate. I could touch her, but not too much, usually only after sex, and then we could cuddle together for a short while. If it was sex on the rare night, she would turn away quickly to her own spot on the far side of the bed. If it was a weekend morning, then she would get up shortly after sex, so the cuddling was short. She slept late on weekends, and told me never, ever, to wake her. I woke early on weekend mornings, and I waited for her to wake for hours sometimes. Over the years, she began to sleep late, wake up suddenly and jump out of bed before I could touch her.

Sometimes she would let me put my arms around her while she worked in the kitchen, but she wouldn’t stop what she was doing. Usually she’d move away or brush me off. She seemed to like it sometimes, but never for long. If I persisted, she said all I wanted was sex.

She never came to me for sex. Sometimes she allowed it; that was my impression. I liked sex, sure; never seemed to get enough. I liked sex with her, even though it was so one-sided. During the four years we dated before marriage and for a few years after that, we’d often had sex multiple times in an evening. One morning, I remarked to her in surprise that we’d had sex five times since the night before, and she was shocked; she didn’t remember the middle-of-the-night sex at all. That puzzled me for years. It was rare for her to orgasm, and she said she didn’t mind. She once told me that she had orgasms in her sleep. She thought that was the only time she had them. I knew better. She would orgasm during sex, sure enough, but only after a night of drinking. She had to be really drunk, and her body arched, and shuddered, and sounds came from deep within her chest. Afterward, she passed out. It was years before I found out that she just didn’t remember such things. I always thought it odd that she said she never had orgasms, no matter what I did, when I’d heard her moan softly and felt her breath quicken. And she breathed hard and fast and I kept going as long as I could, and her excitement excited me and I’d go crazy with lust for her. I never wanted to stop when she seemed to actually be enjoying it. I never knew if I pleased her, or if I disappointed, because she never said anything. After years of marriage, she would often just signal that that was enough, and I should stop.

I finally put it all together. It happened one time that we were out of town, staying at a motel in Santa Fe. We ate dinner and drank a lot. We drank way too much, and the increase in altitude made the drinks work faster, and we headed off to bed. It was not often, away from home, that she’d agree to sex, but this night was different, and we both got our clothes off quickly. She said that she had to use the bathroom. I don’t know when she came back. I woke up shortly afterward to find her nude, and asleep. It was a hard night for me in both meanings. I was aroused by her nude body always. She was out cold. I once heard a neighbor tell how he often had sex with his wife when she was passed out drunk. He loved for her to get drunk. That wasn’t me, however. I couldn’t see having sex without mutual desire, or at least acquiescence. I snuggled up to her, but I couldn’t fall asleep. I was aroused, probably because it had been awhile, and also she was nude in bed, which didn’t happen anymore. She always slept in a heavy nightshirt and socks. In the summer she’d wear something lighter, but always there were the socks. When I could snuggle with her, I’d get my hands inside her night clothes to feel her warm body, but often not until she was asleep. She always said she was too hot. She insisted on sleeping under a thick comforter all year long. She said it made her feel good, but she would throw it off several times a night.

Once, on a cold night, I awoke shivering and found neither of us covered. I pulled the comforter up over both of us, which woke her up. She asked me why I’d covered her. I told her it was cold; I thought she’d want to be covered. She yelled at me, angrily, to never cover her or uncover her. She thought I had been uncovering her at night.

On this particular night in Santa Fe I couldn’t sleep. It was a combination of the excessive alcohol and my desire for her. I tried falling asleep, but I couldn’t. I felt her soft belly and cupped my hands around her breasts. My rock-hard penis was nestled against her ass, and it wouldn’t settle down. I felt the curve of her hips and her soft thighs. I caressed her arms. I dared to rest my hand on her mound. She never woke. I was restless and excited. I wanted her so bad. Towards morning I was exhausted. It had been a long night. I dozed off only after light came in the crack between the heavy curtains, but not for long. I woke and dozed, woke and dozed, always with a hard on. Finally she was awake. I snuggled up against her, touched her, kissed her, and she pushed me off, gently this time. I persisted, however, and she said, “We already had sex.” I was incredulous. “What! We didn’t.” I told her she was wrong, that I would know. She insisted. She said that since she was naked, she knew we’d had sex. I struggled for words. It was impossible. There was no stickiness, no wet spot on the bed, no smells, and besides, sex is not something I have ever forgotten. She insisted we must have, but, after a quick trip to the bathroom, she came back to bed and agreed. It was too late for me. I was dead tired, and hung over. My penis was not very stiff, and I couldn’t keep it erect for more than a minute. I had to just give up. She said nothing. We got up and went to breakfast.

But, after that, I knew why she thought she never had orgasms, why she thought we didn’t have sex when we had, and why she thought we’d had sex when we hadn’t. She blacked out. She is one of those drunks who doesn’t remember what she did the night before. All those times we had sex after Thursday night dancing and drinking – she didn’t remember it. I think she remembered mostly the morning sex, the quick rushed sex because we both had to go to work. Years of long Thursday nights, and lots of sex that she would never remember. Orgasms she would never remember. My efforts to please her for nothing. I enjoyed the sex, but it was only a chore for her, something one does for someone else’s benefit. Did it mean she loved me? I guess I’ll never know. She never said. It’s been four years since I’ve seen her. I wrote her, without a reply. I sent her a book with a note in it, asking if we could get together to talk, see if we had misunderstood each other, if there was anything to say; she said no. I called her when her daughter had to travel to Texas for surgery, offered my help, offered to drive, share a motel room, or buy her a plane ticket. She said she’d think about it, that her sister might fly in from LA and go with her, but she never called me back. I called her and she said her son was taking her, and she didn’t want me there. My step-daughter said not to come, that it would just upset her mom more than she was already.

She lives alone now, as do I. She told her daughter once that she had never been alone before. She’d gone from home to marriage, and even after her first divorce, she’d had the kids with her. Now she is alone. She has her alcohol, and her phone and her sisters and friends to call long distance. Her son calls her nearly every day or she calls him. But, she doesn’t need anyone. She thinks she has always been this way, because she doesn’t remember when I held her hand, when I cuddled her, when I touched her and fucked her, and loved her, and only her, for all I was worth. She just doesn’t remember when someone really loved her, and when she thinks of me at all, she knows I didn’t love her, because I just love everyone.

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What IS depression anyway?

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 26, 2010

Just what the fuck is depression anyway?  I tried researching it, after experiencing it for a few years.  Got medication simultaneously with counseling. I was definitely depressed.

Depression, which doctors call major depressive disorder, isn’t something you can just “snap out of.”

Symptoms

  • Agitation, restlessness, and irritability
  • Dramatic change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss
  • Extreme difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and inappropriate guilt
  • Inactivity and withdrawal from usual activities, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed (such as sex)
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping

Major depression disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic, is when a person has five or more symptoms of depression for at least 2 weeks. In addition, people with major depression often have behavior changes, such as new eating and sleeping patterns.

Depression can appear as anger and discouragement, rather than as feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. If depression is very severe, there may also be psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions. These symptoms may focus on themes of guilt, inadequacy, or disease.  It is thought to be caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals and other factors.

However.  Hmmph.  However, none of this says what depression is, or where it comes from. Obviously, trauma can bring it on: the loss of a loved one, a pet, a friend, or the end of a marriage, love affair, or even a job. Many things can trigger depression.  If it is caused solely by a chemical imbalance, then it would be entirely random, in my opinion.  People in all walks of life would be depressed for absolutely no discernible reason, whereas most of us can attribute those feelings to something that happened. Everyone deals with these things in different ways, and, in fact, it is common for everyone to be depressed at some time.  So, to follow the medical opinions, I should talk about major depressive disorder, that thing that just doesn’t go away for some people sometimes.

I think I know what it is, and where it comes from.  I’m not a doctor, neither an M.D., a psychologist nor a psychiatrist.

Now, Wikipedia says: “The biopsychosocial model proposes that biological, psychological, and social factors all play a role in causing depression. The diathesis–stress model specifies that depression results when a preexisting vulnerability, or diathesis, is activated by stressful life events. The preexisting vulnerability can be either genetic, implying an interaction between nature and nurture, or schematic, resulting from views of the world learned in childhood.”

Blah, blah, blah.

I think it is nothing more than our reaction to pain.  Pain, as many of us know, decreases in intensity after we suffer it for a time.  Runners, torture victims, accident victims, and victims of disease know what I’m talking about. There may be a variety of things involved, but we all commonly think about endorphins kicking in, numbing us to pain after awhile.

Endorphins (“endogenous morphine”) are endogenous opioid peptides that function as neurotransmitters. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates during exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food, love and orgasm, and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being.

Well-being after sex, yeah, I know that one pretty well. I also like chile, red or green, and sure enough, a blast of really hot spicy food brings about a lessening of the hotness after a short time. I can then eat hotter chile, but I pay for it later.  So, one thing to notice is that this morphine-like substance we produce in our bodies doesn’t last very long. But, we can produce it over and over again, in response to various stimuli, including stress.  Some of us experience stress daily, so we must also be producing endorphins daily.

Here’s what I think: depression is our bodies’ response to psychological pain.  Depression is our psychological morphine, producing analgesia.  We go numb in response to psychological pain.  We cry, or grieve deeply, sometimes feeling an overwhelming crushing weight.  We can’t function that way.  We have to go to work, or continue our normal routines, so we have to push those feelings aside just enough to function.  Depression is the result.  If it was a relatively minor pain, we may work it out through continuing our normal routines.  Sometimes, however, the pain was severe, or was perceived as severe, and continues to recur. We may keep brushing it aside.  I think this is a normal mental defense, allowing us to continue our life until we can deal with the cause of the pain, similar to the production of adrenalin or endorphins, which give us temporary options for survival.

But, it has to be dealt with sooner or later.  Just as an injury can be ignored while adrenalin or endorphin pumps through our bodies, eventually the injury must be treated.  Depression is our temporary defense against psychological pain, but at some point, we have to deal with the “injury” that produced the depression in the first place.  How we deal with the injury is what our mental health industry is all about.  Alcohol and other central nervous system depressants slow normal brain function. In higher doses, some CNS depressants can become general anesthetics.  Temporary.  These measures are temporary, and can actually worsen depression.

An interesting tidbit I gleaned from the research literature is that endorphins attach themselves to areas of the brain associated with emotions (limbic and prefrontal areas).  Perhaps endorphins are involved in the onset of depression? I do not know, nor care.

Do I know how to “cure” depression? No.  Various treatments, combinations of certain drugs with counseling, are said to allow our minds and bodies to slip out of depression long enough to allow us to reprogram ourselves out of it.  The length of treatment, types of drugs and types of counseling vary widely. The results vary widely.

Having just come out of a three-year long depression (at minimum), I have some observations:

1.) Depression is temporary.

2.) It does not occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

3.) In all likelihood, we prolong our depressive state ourselves.

4.) Whatever caused the initial depressive response must be overcome.

Yeah, I hear you: Overcome? How? Beats me.  Drugs and counseling will help in some cases.

My best guess?

Here ’tis.

1.) Recognise that one is depressed.

2.) Trace the cause. This may take medical and psychological help.

3.) Eliminate the cause. This one is tricky.

I know that there are techniques often applied, common sense approaches, that may or not be accepted by all.  For example, I have read that grief cannot be overcome unless one goes through various stages, like denial, and anger, leading to acceptance.  I’ve found this to be true for depression.  One cannot wish depression away – that is simply denial. Accept that one is depressed. And then get angry.  Avoid violent solutions, because the depression will worsen, and be prolonged, but anger? Anger is good.  Get really fucking angry. Maybe one thinks it was all their own fault. Let me tell you, getting angry with oneself doesn’t do a whole lot.  What hurt you badly? What was the thing that drove you over the edge? Was it your boss, your spouse, your ex, your lover, your sibling, your parent?  Hate them. Your injury? Hate it.  Give it all you’ve got.  Hate your boss, your spouse, your ex, the negligent driver, the government regulation, the politician?  Hate them.  Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.  Give into it.  Feel the vindication, the release, the shifting of the pain from yourself somewhere else.  When you’ve gotten the focus off of you and onto the cause, let it go.  Forget? No.  We can never forget.  But we can let the anger go, and the pain goes with it.  Then focus on change.  Get away from the source of the pain if you can, or confront it. Attempt to change the situation that caused the pain in the first place.  We all know what we have to do.  If we don’t, the pain will hit us again, and we will be depressed again.

In my opinion.

Posted in depression, health, Life, madness, medical, My Life, opinion, rambling, Random Thoughts, rants | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

QUE PASO?

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 29, 2010

When I was a very young man
I asked my father to please tell me
Will I get lucky Will I get laid
Here’s what he said to me

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

When I grew up and fell in love
I asked each lover what lies ahead
Will there be love and sex every day
Here’s what my lovers said

Que sera, sera
What will be will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

When I was just an old man
I asked my shrink what should I try
Could I fall in love again or fucking give up
This was his wise reply

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

What will be, will be
Que sera, sera.

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TUMBLEBUNNIES

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 12, 2010

Dust bunnies blow across my floors
like tumbleweeds through my yard
Some blow away, keep tumbling
some get stuck.

Tumbleweeds in the ditch
tumbleweeds in the fence
dust bunnies in the corner
dust bunnies underneath

Memories are like that.

Posted in Life, love, madness, My Life, poem, poetry, Random Thoughts | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Deep Creek Youghiogheny

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on May 31, 2010

With nothing left to live for, no joy in my life, no pleasure in waking, breathing, eating, or even being, I knew I had to just get it over with and die.  I went through all the options: gun placed in my mouth to fire upwards, blowing the top of my head off – way too messy.
Razor along my vein, for maximum loss of blood – too slow, and painful.  What of pain? I shouldn’t care, but, it’s because I tired of pain that I no longer feel anything at all. No sense having pain be my last memory.
Jumping? What if I survive? What if I’m paralyzed? unable to die? kept alive for nothing?
Pills? so I can wake up choking on my own vomit?
Jumping in front of a bus? Same problem as jumping.
I really couldn’t come up with anything that didn’t involve some kind of pain, slow death, or public display.  I didn’t want anyone to know I died, or how I died. I had no one to impress, no one to feel sorry for me, no one to send a message to.  I just wanted it all to be over.
I found a solution: drowning.  I knew it would be unpleasant.  I had a plan for that. Nitrous oxide.  I would feel myself drowning, trying to pull air into my lungs, trying to breathe, but I wouldn’t care.  I’d laugh my way into death, gulping in whole lungfuls of water.  Then peace, with a smile on my face.
The water was deepest near the dam, about 75 feet, so I’d plunge deep into the numbing cold water. I wanted to sink, and sink fast.  I found four twenty-pound ankle weights.  It was hard walking with them, but I practiced until I managed to just look like I was just drunk or high or old. And jeez, was I ever old. Too old for life to hold any interest anymore.
With a small canister of nitrous oxide, I crossed Deep Creek’s concrete bridge leading to the dam.  It was 3:00 am.  I walked, slowly and silently. There was no traffic that time of morning.  I’d been there often enough to know.  I climbed the fence to the dam, clumsily, but without making a sound.    There was a maintenance ladder on the dam itself.  As I grabbed each rung, my legs felt dead.  It took a lot of effort to pull them up with me.  I was sweating in that nearly freezing air.  Those weights got heavier with every breath.
The water was calm, and inviting.  I opened up the canister and let it fill me with gas.  I had a small mask to cover my mouth and nose.  It took longer than I thought.  I hung there on the ladder, a few feet from the top.  My legs were tired. My feet were hooked uncomfortably in the rungs.  My hands, wrists, and ankles ached from the climb.  After awhile, I didn’t care much about the slight pain anymore.  I didn’t care much about the cold night air.  I was really happy, for the first time in many years.  I didn’t feel like laughing, but I was smiling.  I dropped the canister into the water.  The splash was reassuring, calming, a funny preview of my own fall.
I threw myself out as far as I could.  I was taking no chances, but there was little danger of hitting the dam wall, as it curved inward at this point, near the long tunnel that takes water to the powerhouse.  The water flows past the turbines, back into Deep Creek lake, back into the Youghiogheny river, continuing on its way to the Gulf of Mexico.  I hit feet first, as I expected. There was pain, pain to my feet, despite the thick hiking boots I’d worn, pain to my knees, pain to my hips.  But the water was so cold, and I was so excited, it didn’t matter.  I sunk quickly.  I opened my eyes, surprised that I’d had them shut so long, surprised that I was holding my breath.  There was not much to see. It was dark, but some light from the power plant was reflected down into the depths.  I had expected to touch bottom, but I seemed to be drifting down incredibly slowly.
It was time.  I pushed my stomach in with my fists, expelling a lot of air.  It blooped out of my mouth and nose.  When it seemed I had no more air left, I held myself still, trying not to breathe until the last possible second, when my reflexes would kick in and force me to.  It was peaceful.  As I faced death, I realized I was ready.  She was gone forever. There was no one left to care for, no one to mourn my passing, no reason for my existence.  I was now useless.  I’d had a good life.  I’d loved, and lost, and loved again, and again.  I’d worked many jobs, some I’d enjoyed, some I hadn’t.  I had done all that I had set out to do, and I was content with my lot in life.  Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t want to die out of regret.  Hell, if I’d still had any regrets, I’d have wanted to keep on living, kept on trying to overcome those regrets for the rest of my life.  No, I had no regrets. It was just time to go.
My lungs burned with the beginnings of pain, so I opened my mouth and swallowed, deeply.  I sucked greedily at the water, blowing some residual water out my nose.  Then, then there was only water, and I was afraid. Fear stabbed at me like an ice pick through my heart.  I wanted to breath!  I wanted air.  My brain felt funny.  It was hard to think, but I kept trying to breathe. There was a heaviness in my head, a feeling of darkness.   My lungs struggled, again and again, for air.  The water was too heavy, too thick. I kept choking.  I started retching, water into water, and water back in again.  It hurt.  It hurt bad.  Worst of all was the feeling of panic, of absolute fear.  I thought I’d wanted to die, but now I wanted to breathe, to live, to think again.
Too late.

Posted in Dreams, Life, love, madness, misanthropy, My Life, rambling | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

SMOKE, LIGHT, AND SCENTED LOVE

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on May 3, 2010

I’d like to be
a scented candle
in your room
burning for you
glowing
scenting

I’d like to please you
make you feel good
fill your senses
relax you

I see my scent
clinging to you
swirling
falling
rising
caressing you

I see my scent
clinging
to your hair
to your skin
long after
you blow me out

you set me aflame
you made me glow
incandescent
iridescent
you put me out
quenched my flame
I smolder
a smoky ember
yearning to
make you happy
light your face
make you smile

Your lips are a torch
when they smile
Should you smile
if only you would
I think it could
fan my ember
into a wildfire

light me up
so that
I may swirl around you
touching you
pleasing you

O to burn so brightly
even for a moment

ecstasy

though I be totally
consumed.

Posted in love, madness, poem, poetry, relationships | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Party time! to not forget history

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on March 17, 2010

I carry an Irish name
just part of my lineage
but important   I think.
I got the name from my father
he died – too much tobacco in his lungs
he got the name from his father
he died – bad lungs
too much mustard gas
he got his name from his father

who got his name from his father
a refugee from occupied Ireland.

I don’t know how he died
but I’ll bet he choked on the memory
of leaving his home to the British
the Anglos killed Celtic  men  women  children
took their land
sold some as slaves
no Irish could own land or money
no Irish could speak their native tongue
no Irish could have any other religion but that
of the bloody church of England
No school allowed, no life no culture

Not people       slaves
without hope     without justice
without reason   to live.

They fought and died for freedom
from the bloody English imperialists
who tried to own
the whole world    and failed.
They screwed the Irish even harder
took       their forests   their elk
their land      their money
their language  their culture.

The English fought the spirit of an entire nation
a people that had fought its way across Europe
survived invasions by Norsemen
by Vikings    by Romans
and invasions by the bloody British
’till any sane people would have gone mad with despair
again and again and again.

But the Irish fought back
the British killed them   jailed them
took more land   more crops   more slaves
left the Irish people potatoes.

Their crocodile tears did nothing
for the starving people of Ireland
when the potatoes lost heart.

So the Irish escaped their hell
joined relatives in Australia,
the United States, Mexico, Canada, and other places
Those that survived the trip.

I have their blood in me

the blood of the dispossessed, the beaten, the despised

the hated people who lived in Briton
before the British
who lived as one great people
artisans   bronze workers
honorable     egalitarian
young and old, male and female
many tribes and clans.

The Romans started the slaughter
started the theft of Celtic lands.
The Brits came and took more and more and
more and more and more and more.
But Ireland still exists
Independence for the southern part!
hope to many

But the British still own most of the land
and the factories
and cling to the stolen land in the North
as if it was somehow theirs to defend.
To defend from what?
from joint rule? from democratic elections?
guilty over their own bloody past
they are afraid of retribution.

The Irish clans and tribes lived their own
life   happily   if not always peacefully
but it was their land    their own fights
they had a system of justice praised
by the Roman invaders themselves.
They remind me of the Native peoples
of the Americas
forced from their land
forced to give up their cultures
forced to speak Spanish, or English
killed and beaten and raped as
were my ancestors too.

I don’t wonder at the Irish names
the Irish names that some
Native Americans carry    and the
marriages between Irish immigrants and
Native American peoples.
We are family, after all
we believed in the same things
people    land    even gods
gods who brought rain and sun
and game and water and fire.
in a simpler time
before the English brought their      civilization
to the Celtic tribes

and
British and Spanish brought their     civilization
to the American tribes.

Many of us drink a bit too much
after hundreds of years of
civilized rape     murder    theft.
and we distrust each other
see skin color as a barrier
as if the invaders ever cared
if we were white or brown or red.
To them we were all inferior
scum  vermin  heathens  savages
We know we are not.
similar history
similar struggle
We carry on.

Wouldn’t it be something
wouldn’t it be absolutely fucking amazing
it we saw each other as brothers and sisters
under the skin
on the skin
of our Earth?

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Winding down, dow, do, d….

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 16, 2010

Emo warning.

Do you know that odd feeling in your throat when you get emotional? It tightens up, you find it hard to breathe, and maybe your eyes water.  Happens from time to time.  Sometimes I watch a sentimental movie and feel that.  There was a time when I felt deep regret over a lost love and I’d get that way.  Doesn’t seem to happen much anymore.  It’s an odd feeling, and only seems to occur with a sense of great loss, or empathy with someone’s loss or near loss.  I remember when my step-daughter survived cancer.  If it had been something I was watching in a movie, I’d have choked up like that, with my throat tensed and a feeling of  being overcome by emotion, regardless of outcome.  However, when Maya survived the surgery, and then again, when I found out the tumor was gone, after a whole lot of radiation and chemo treatments, I felt joy.  It was the purest joy I’d ever felt.  I was happy.  My throat did not tighten,  I did not cry, I did not feel overcome with emotion.  I was, instead, blissfully happy.  I stayed that way for a while.  I am, of course glad that she is fine today, and in complete remission, and it is not the type of tumor, being so rare, that she is likely to experience ever again.   The joy I felt back then was for her.  I love her so much.  I don’t need anything from her, don’t need to have love from her, or anything at all.  I wish her a long and happy life.

Mine is not so happy.   I experienced depression for a time in my life; got counseling, and medication.  It may have made a difference.  There was a change from that deep hopeless depression.  I was sad a lot.  It was sometimes overwhelming.  There was an almost physical pain, tightness in my chest, sighing.  That part is over now.

As always, I stay busy, even though I’ve retired from work.  I hike, I snowshoe, I read, I watch movies.  I buy things online and in junk/antique stores.  I don’t feel sad.  I eat a lot, which is not good, but it hardly seems to matter anymore. Nothing does really.  It’s not the way I ever thought I’d be: just drifting along.  No sadness, but no joy either.  It is hard to enjoy a movie, a good book, a good sleep.

Sometimes I nap and I wake up nearly suffocating.  It is dark and terrifying.  My throat feels like it has been closed up.  My brain feels oxygen starved.  I feel like I’m dying.  It happens more and more often.   I don’t know what it means for sure.  I’ve no known breathing problems.  I had pneumonia as a child a couple times, so perhaps my lungs are not all that strong, and I had asthma until I was twelve years old.  I don’t feel like there is anything wrong with my lungs now.  My hikes take me up over 10,000 feet above sea level sometimes.  It’s not all that easy, but I survive.  I hiked near that altitude once for 20 miles.

I don’t know what to make of all this sometimes.  I think I will drop off to sleep one day soon and I will just stop breathing.  That doesn’t seem to scare me.  It’s just the waking up unable to think straight and feeling like I’m dying that ever bothers me.  When I couple that with my lack of joy in living, with a loss of interest in companionship or love, and with no enthusiasm for the sex that always made me happy, I wonder if this is it?  Is my life over? Not in any figurative sense, but really.  Is this what it feels like to die, or just to grow old?

I should do something, right? I try.  I have a meeting tomorrow with people who want to change the world of politics.  That used to excite me, but it’s more running on inertia now. I do the things I used to do, and new things too.  I tried out to be a VJ ( a TV announcer/spokesperson), and it was good to try.  Didn’t happen.  I went to a local winery and I will be working there a couple days a week, with flexible days and hours.  I might be serving/selling wine, or helping clear the ditches, or helping with new construction. I may be able to help with some of the tedious paperwork stuff, since I have some experience with maintaining inventory and budgets.  It’s a new place for me. Something to do.

I don’t know if my life will change again.  I tried the guitar, but I’m not doing much with that anymore.  By now I thought I’d have a few dozens songs down.  My photographs never sell, so I don’t know how much I will keep that up.  My stories never sold, and I know they’re not that good.   My poems pale next to most everything I hear or read.  You’d think that would make me sad, but I don’t feel sad so much as tired.  I don’t know what the point of it all is anymore.  Going through the motions, eating, sleeping, doing things, watching things, reading, writing, working.  I just don’t know.   I know that people say, even when they’re dying, that life is a joy, and we can just enjoy every minute.  Can’t say I feel like doing that.

In reality, I think my life is winding down.  I think it may be ending soon.  I can’t say why.  It just seems like it.  Sometimes the brain knows things we don’t consciously admit to, or recognize.  Animals have been observed doing that: preparing themselves to die.  They sometimes seem to know.  Are people any different?

There are lots of things I can do: volunteer to help kids with their homework.  Ask someone out.  I have tried to get interested in other people, but the spark is just not there.  It’s not here in the sense that perhaps there is no need anymore?  If my life is going to end soon, then there really isn’t much point in anything.   I look at that in the reverse direction, and I think, if there isn’t much point in anything anymore, then maybe that’s the sure sign that I am going to die soon.   I have no regrets, no bucket list, no things I need to resolve. Death doesn’t scare me.  Nothing scares me.  Nothing excites me either, so that seems the same as death.

Well, tomorrow is another damn day.  Who knows what will happen?

I had a dream last night: I was moving.  I didn’t want to move. There were other people I was living with, and I didn’t want to go with them.  I stayed in bed while people finished packing.  I got up after awhile. There had been a very young kitten hanging around for awhile, feral, skittish.  I didn’t know where it had come from.  I saw it now, asleep by the bed.  It looked so sweet and happy there.  I went into the bathroom to pee and noticed little bits of cat shit around the toilet. Seems the kitten had decided to stick around.  I thought about sticking around myself, just by myself.  I heard a truck horn.  There were to be two vehicles going. Four guys in one big truck and the two women in a car.   I remember thinking it odd that the women and men were going separately, fearful that the women were going to disappear.  That it was deliberate.

I went back to the cat, stared at it.  I decided it was my cat.  I could stay.  Then I decided to go after all, but the cat was coming with me.


Posted in Dreams, Life, madness, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

New Year’s Day, 2008

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 15, 2010

A new year.  It was a new year. It was the first new year whose coming I had not celebrated.  I had not anticipated such a new year.

After a fourteen-year marriage, I was alone. The house I’d lived in, worked on and renovated was lost to me.  She had that.  I would keep my future pension. That was all.

I was uneasy in my new place.  Winter-bare trees stared in my windows.  I stared at the rented walls, the rented high ceiling, the rented hard brick floor.  It didn’t feel like home.  It was the nicest place I could find.  It had all I needed, a small kitchen space, a nice bathroom, two bedrooms and a fireplace in the living room.  I had my books, my old vinyl, my 16-year old TV.  Still, I felt like a visitor, as though this was a hotel room far from home.  It seemed cavernous, empty and cold.

After almost four months there, I decided I was going to have a Christmas tree, but I had no ornaments.  eBay to the rescue!  Over the next two months I found and purchased dozens of old glass ornaments.  I’d remembered the thin glass ornaments my parents had decorated the tree with every year, many of them German, family heirlooms.  Online, I found indents, and double indents, and triple indents!  There were  multicolored ones, all fragile, large and small, and round ones, tear shapes, bell shapes and cello shapes.

I had walked down the street to the neighborhood tree lot. They brought in-state trees down from Mora every year.  I carried my tree home, as though I had walked into the forest and chopped it down myself.

Once decorated, the tree stood there silently all through Christmas.  As the new year arrived, I’d grown to accept it as part of my house.  The place seemed more like a home.  On New Year’s day, I built a fire and kept it going all day, for just me and my tree.

Posted in Christmas, family, Holidays, Life, madness, marriage, My Life | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Fixing a Refrigerator with a Mass-air-flow Sensor and a Serpentine Belt

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 18, 2009

There was a lavender festival in my neighborhood last weekend. I didn’t go, but there was fresh lavender, and other products for sale across the street from me near the coffee shop.  I decided my house needed a little boost of sight and smell, so I bought a bunch of the fresh lavender.  Oddly, wildflower plants like that, when placed in water, need to have the water changed every day, as they foul it quickly.  I didn’t  know that.  It’s true.  That bunch of lavender sucked up every drop of water at first, then the second day the water was rank.  It does need to be changed every day.  lavender2 So, who cares, right?  It’s just one of those things I might have mentioned to my ex-wife, and she would have ridiculed me for saying it.  “That’s really interesting,” she’d sneer at me.  She was a hard woman to talk to.  She loved to spread gossip, talk about other’ people’s lives, her sister and bother-in-law, her mother and her mother’s depression, or her other sisters, or her friends.  That was all she cared to talk about.   This worked well for her on the phone, because she could call one person, pump them for information under the guise of curiosity and friendliness, hang up the phone and talk about the conversation she’d just had with the next person who answered the phone.  She hated it when no one she called was home, especially if she had something she wanted to tell everyone.  I was always amazed at her ability to have the same conversation over and over.  She didn’t particularly like to talk with me, because I had little interest in the personal lives of other people, so  I had little to say. I tried, for a long time, to listen attentively, but not only had I usually heard much of the stories while she talked on the phone, but she had the habit of repeating the same stories over and over, not remembering who she had talked to.  This had the effect of making me zone out.  She wasn’t saying anything new, or interesting, so my mind would drift off, particularly since she always had the TV blaring.  It was very distracting.

I have no idea why I’m rambling on about this.  Just chain of thought.  So many things to think about lately. kenmore I finally got around to fixing the refrigerator today. I had put a call in to the Sears repair people, because I had no idea what was wrong, or how serious it was.  The old thing cools really well, and keeps the freezer compartment frozen, so I had no complaints there.  However, the freezing cold water dripping onto the top shelf and turning to ice bothered me. I had a large plastic container under the drip, as it dripped at really odd times, sometimes all  at once.  Long story short, it’s $70 just to get a Sears repairman out, and then parts and labor.  It seemed cheaper than a new one.  I gave them my credit card info over the phone, but later on, a repair guy called, asked me about the problem, and told me how to fix it.  Since it involved turning the refrigerator off and “defrosting” the frost-free thing, I had put it off. I needed some ice coolers and ice for my food, and I couldn’t carry all that on the motorcycle.  I have a car, reflection1 but it needed work.  First, the  “mass airflow sensor” died.  Having no idea what or where it was, I asked the dealer about it – would cost a lot for the sensor, then labor, and I would need some other engine work done.  For $800 plus bucks, I didn’t trust ’em.  I took it to a local mechanic who quickly diagnosed the same problem, but said he could probably clean the sensor and I wouldn’t need to buy a new one.  Cool.  $257.70 I could save. however, he said the engine had not been running correctly with the air flow off balance, so I’d need a tune-up.  It was about time for one, so I told him to go ahead.  Still, even though he did a great  job, even replacing the crappy battery terminals, the fouled spark plugs, wires, and valve cover gaskets, I still ended up spending $827.70.  So, I felt it was money well spent, if I could then depend on the car, in case I needed it.  Of course, when next I did need it, the serpentine belt broke, completely shredding all over the engine. serpentine belt It was beginning to look like I’d never get those ice chests and ice so I could empty out the freezer.

Naturally, on my way to get a new belt, I laid the bike down when the front wheel spun sideways on some loose gravel in a turn bay.  Scraped the fuck out of my hands, my shoulder, 070709 (8) and cut my face too. 070809 (1) I totally freaked out the employees and customers at the dealership; walked in with blood running down my face, and all over my hands.  Got the belt however!   It was hard to work on with my hands bandaged. It took me a while to figure out how to replace it, even with a diagram of the path it had to travel, but I got it on last weekend, and everything worked.  So, finally I got the ice chests and ice today, so I could empty out the refrigerator.  Took three hours from the time I left for the ice and ice chests, took out all the food, and effected the fix I’d been instructed in by the repairman.  It all centered around a drain hole for the defrosted ice water that would ice over and prevent draining.  Since it couldn’t drain normally, the icy water would overflow into the refrigerator compartment.   Twisting a copper wire around the heating element and sticking it into the drain hole was the cure.  So far, it’s working.  I’m not certain I did it correctly, because the “obvious” place to wrap the wire around wasn’t so obvious to me, but I did get the entire refrigerator and freezer cleaned up.  Oddly enough, while it ran a long time to get back down to the cold temperatures, it then stopped cooling, long before it usually does.  It used to be near freezing in the back of the refrigerator compartment, but now I’ve had to raise the temperature setting I’ve been using all along. It’s more efficient now.  I’m hoping this fixes the thing for good – it often seemed to me to run far too long at a stretch, often long into the night.  Of course, it would have been way cheaper, easier, and less painful to buy a new refrigerator. 😦

So, tired, but satisfied, I popped in a movie: Waltz With Bashir, waltz w bashir an animated film by an Israeli filmmaker who fought in the war in Lebanon in the early 1980s.  He had forgotten most of what he did, and travels around in the movie visiting old comrades from the war to see what they remembered.   What little they did remember centered around atrocities, young men shooting blindly in every direction out of fear, massacres, and other horrors.  This is an army oddly similar to the US army, in terms of weapons, training and sheer chutzpah.  I was tempted to think that Israel has no idea what modern warfare is about, and has no misgivings about killing innocent people for no real purpose.  Of course, I found that they weren’t really all that different from the US.  Our military has done, and is doing, some really horrific things in the name of freedom, democracy, and protection of the “homeland”.  I think the US and Israel are evidence of the new way war is fought, without clear strategy or objectives, just fighting and killing with huge tanks, powerful weapons, and clueless soldiers,  in hopes it will all come out right if we spend enough money, shoot enough bullets, and drop enough bombs.   Looks like something is being done, but all that happens is war continues, with the certainty that even if a conflict ends, another will start.  We’ve entered the period of endless, mindless war that was adroitly predicted in the novel 1984.  Always war somewhere; we’re always winning, but the enemy fights on, and we need to support war or we’re unpatriotic.  It just goes on and on.  There is no longer an end.  Even if the combat  troops leave Iraq, we’re leaving behind bases filled with troops, a clear provocation.  In Afghanistan, we don’t even have a winnable objective, no way of defeating the Taliban, al-Qa’ida, or other terrorists.  Bombs, tanks, and bullets just aren’t accomplishing anything except more deaths of our soldiers and local non-combatants, and a terrorist every now and again, and we’ve no plans to try anything else.  The more we fight, the stronger the Taliban and al-Qa’ida get.  It is mindless destruction, with unprecedented levels of non-combatant deaths, but all we ever care about are “our troops’ – support our troops, support our troops, support our troops, and don’t question any of this, because then you won’t be supporting our troops.  I’m sure there were good Germans under Hitler, good Japanese under the emperor, good Iraqis under Saddam Hussein who “supported our troops” too.   People never seem to notice that, and it no longer seems to matter.  No one really cares.  As long as innocent people are dying somewhere else, it’s not really our problem, because God is on our side.  Of course, God is also on the terrorist’s side, on the dictator’s side, on everyone’s side in every war, but still people die; still people lose.

Rambling again tonight.  No real purpose here.  Just a lack of purpose.  All seems pointless now.  War is pointless.  Patriotism is misdirected.  God is equated with war, guns and victory over all.  I honestly don’t know what to believe in anymore, or what to care about, and that is reflected in my personal life.  No desire for companionship, love, or sex.  Just day-to-day mechanical living.  Why?

I started another blog alongside this one back in 2007 that was about ennui and war and all that.  This blog was personal at first, but now it all seems to run together in my head; can’t keep any of it separate, and nothing seems more or less important than anything else.

Posted in depression, Life, madness, misanthropy, My Life, rambling, war | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Do I Ever Leave My House?

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 7, 2009

What is it with me and pain?  How is it I seem to mess myself up so often?  I went hiking Saturday the 4th of July. It was fun. 070409 (52) We took off-the-map trails, found four geocaches. 070409 (13) Along the way the trail was about a 60 degree angle, down and up again. Going down I managed to slip on some loose rock and spun all the way around before I caught myself.  Ripped my middle finger open a little, bled on my backpack and shirt. No big deal. The hike was worse going back up; had to stop often to catch my breath, as we gained a bit of elevation as well as the distance climbing.  Made it.  Then, on the way back, it hailed!  In July!  Pea-sized bits on our faces and arms. Stopped under some trees by the last geocache and put on our rain gear, as it was pouring too.  Stayed where we were for a while, as lighting and thunder were arriving simultaneously.  We didn’t want to get into an open area where we were the tallest things around.  Finally headed on up to the top of the mountain where there was a porch around a gift shop that people drive to.  We had coffee and brownies, courtesy of one older hiker.  Not a bad day all in all.  I was sore in my upper legs later, and then sore on Sunday still, and then sore on Monday.  It didn’t hurt to walk upstairs, but downstairs was difficult.  I was not used to scrambling down such steep trails with loose footing.  Different muscles used, and they complained until today.  Today, the pain and stiffness was gone.  The cut on my finger was healing nicely.

I had to stop by the auto dealer on my way home. Friday had been a holiday from work, so I had driven my car for once, looking for a new desk chair, and a few other things that don’t fit on the motorcycle.  The ’96 Mercury Cougar is a good car, but I’d recently had to spend over $800 getting the mass air flow sensor fixed, and having the engine tuned up with new plugs and valve covers, filters, new battery terminals, etc.  It was running smooth and quiet.  All of a sudden, on my way home, it had made a funny noise, and the steering crapped out.  It’s power steering, but I could still move the wheel just enough to turn.  Found out the belt had disintegrated.  It was broken and shredded all over the engine.  A lot of coolant had boiled out too.  serpentine The belt is a serpentine one, snaking around various pulleys that operate the power steering, the air conditioning, the generator, as well the water pump.  Well, that was where I was going after work today, to the dealer for a good, reliable serpentine belt.

They had moved far up the interstate, and I had to fight traffic going north.  I got off near where they said the new place was, but didn’t see it.  It was supposed to be on the frontage road, and I hadn’t passed it yet, so I went down the side road a bit to turn around.  Pulled into a turn bay, but hit gravel.  The bike went down fast.  Picked it right up, although someone had stopped to help.  He even offered to put my bike in the back of his pickup, and take me to a hospital, but I thanked him and told him I was OK.  He had seen the bike spin out from under me.  The bike is OK, a little scratched up, especially my brand new windshield.  Crap.  Anyway, I got back on the frontage road and went through the intersection this time, and found the dealer about two blocks away around a curve.  Parts guy took my order for the belt, but he didn’t have a cash register in his work area, so he sent me out to the garage.  I told him about the accident.  He said he’d get me some gauze too and meet me up there.  The lady at the register gave me some wipes to clean myself up a bit, baby wipes of all things.  I didn’t know how my face looked, but I had seen and felt blood running down near my left eye, and my sunglasses were full of blood too.  I paid for the Ford Motorcraft belt, $52.81 and they gave me some bandages.  I went into their men’s room to clean up. 070709 (1) Nice gashes near my eye, and the eye was already swollen and dark.  Probably have a black eye tomorrow.  Scrapes on my left knuckles, my right thumb is torn up, both palms are scraped and full of gravel bits.  My left knee hurt, as well as my left shoulder, where my new heavy-duty cotton shirt was torn open.  I bandaged what I needed to in order to grip the handlebars and clutch and brakes, and headed home.  When I got there, I found a 1 3/4 inch diameter scrape on my shoulder, almost round, looks like the skin had been taken off with a belt sander, and still weeping. Oddly, it is not bleeding much except around the edge, and it doesn’t hurt. 070709 (7) Smaller scrapes below it, right into the tattoo.  Both knees are scraped, but the left one is bleeding a lot.  Bandaged everything else up that I’d missed at the auto dealer, after cleaning with a little peroxide.

Damn, only one Advil left too. I had wanted two.  Added four aspirin.  I don’t even know why I’m complaining.  I didn’t break anything, and the bike still runs. People go through worse every day.  Still, I wonder why I’m so damn careless and accident prone?  I ride every day, so I suppose the odds were against me.  Just can’t believe I was so stupid.  Should have slowed down more before getting in the turn bay.  Should have been looking for hazards.   Should have taken the car in for scheduled maintenance – perhaps they’d have caught the bad belt?  and then I wouldn’t have had to go there, but I rarely even drive the car. I didn’t think it needed more maintenance so soon. Of course, it’s 13 years old.

Oh, man, my neck and shoulder area hurts now. I sure hope I didn’t do any damage to my collar-bone or neck.   More and more, I feel like I just want to be home and stay here, never going out again.  Work is a real pain with the budget problems and the move to a new lab space.  I really don’t want to deal with any of it anymore.   I’m tired.  And, so what?

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Rent This Movie for GREAT Jazz

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on June 5, 2009

The Legend of 1900. Watch it.  The piano playing is phenomenal!  The story is unique.

legend_of_nineteen_hundred legend___2

Piano duel, Part 1 ; also:  Piano duel Part 2

jelly37lg <-The real Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton. As a teenager Jelly Roll Morton worked in the whorehouses of Storyville, New Orléans, as a piano player. From 1904 to 1917 Jelly Roll rambled through the South as gambler, pool shark, pimp, vaudeville comedian and pianist. He was the first great composer and piano player of Jazz and an important transitional figure between ragtime and jazz piano styles. He played on the West Coast from 1917 to 1922 and then moved to Chicago and where he hit his stride. Morton’s 1923 and 1924 recordings of piano solos for the Gennett label were very popular and influential.

He fell upon hard times after 1930 and even lost the diamond he had in his front tooth. He died just before the Dixieland revival rescued so many of his peers from obscurity. He blamed his declining health on a voodoo spell.  See: Red Hot Jazz.

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Last night I dreamt I killed

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 12, 2009

nightmare Woke up from a nightmare last night. Middle of the night.  My heart was racing.  I was horrified.  It was raining.  I lay there for a time listening to the rain.  After awhile I heard hail hitting the roof.  There was lightning too.  In the dream, I had just killed someone, someone I loved.  In the dream, I didn’t feel anything.  I killed without remorse.  That woke me up, I think.  I had been thinking (in the dream) I had no feelings in me, but as I came back into consciousness, I realized I did care, and the horrible reality that I could do something like that terrified me.

Oddly, I can’t remember now who it was I was supposed to have killed.  Never saw  the face.  It was, however, very real, and I was really sure who it was when I woke up, but now I can’t remember for certain.  But, I clearly remember coming from behind, strangling her, and burying her.  The whole time that was going on, I was aware, in the dream, of my disconnect, of my inability to feel, or care about morality. It was as though I had actually lost all socialization, and had become a serial killer, and without the slightest hint of remorse.

Got up this morning after lying there for hours after that.  It was only 6:00 am on a Saturday.  I should get more sleep, but I wake up nearly every night, sometimes at 1:30 am, sometimes at 3:30 am, or 4:00, and sometimes I just watch the clock tick off the half hours until it’s time to get up. Made coffee.  caffeine It’s a special blend of mine: I take a can of  “Lite” coffee, which already has half the caffeine of regular coffee, and I mix it with a can of decaf coffee.  Still I can’t sleep at night.  I’ve tried doing without coffee altogether.  After the headaches stop, I feel good, but I still can’t sleep right, not even after months without caffeine.  I never get 7 or 8 hours sleep anymore.  The amount is not always vital, as long as there is some deep sleep involved, but 5 1/2 hours is my longest time spent asleep, with or without coffee. I don’t think it’s enough time to get a good rest.  I’d imagine this is why I’ve been so tense, irritable and depressed, but those things affect sleep, so it’s hard to say which came first.  Doesn’t matter what time I go to bed, I usually fall asleep right away, but I always wake up long before it’s time to get up.  I’ve gone on ten-miles hikes in the mountains, dropped into bed, to sleep, perchance to dream, but still I wake up, sometimes sweating, sometimes with a bad dream chasing me.  It’s aging me fast.  People used to think I was younger than I was, but now they’re sure I’m older than I am.  I have permanent dark circles under my eyes.  My hair rapidly turned from salt and pepper to almost all-white, so I dye it now.

Today a rental movie came in the mail: Hancock.   I enjoyed it.  I even felt some stirrings of emotion at all the appropriate times.  Movies somehow do that to me.  Hancock, of course is about a guy who happens to have super powers and creates more havoc trying to help than he helps.  Not knowing who he is, or where he came from, he stumbles along until people step up to help him straighten out his life.  In the end he does OK, and even finds out who he is.  Heroic, and a happy ending too.

After the movie, I sat back to daydream, because I always imagine myself in any movie I watch, or any book I read.  I became a superhero.  I don’t have super strength or the power to fly, or magnetic power, or x-ray vision – none of that.   I have the power I’ve always imagined I had, to transport myself instantly anywhere in the world or universe.  It’s a dormant power that surfaces when I need it.  My step-daughter Maya goes into the hospital soon for brain surgery.  The doctors are highly skilled at it, and the danger is not insignificant, but any operation is dangerous, and a brain operation seems more so.  4 1/2 years ago, Maya had her brain opened to remove a tumor, and they got almost all of it.  Enough cells remained to regrow, and she had chemotherapy.  The chemo didn’t work.  She lost all her hair, was sick as a dog, but the tumor actually started growing faster.  She had radiation treatments then, and the tumor was “burned” out of her skull.  No traces left on MRI, nothing in her blood, nothing in her spinal fluid all this time.  Now there’s something there.  Could be scar tissue, a common occurrence with radiation treatment.  They don’t know.  So, they’re going back in to find out.

In my daydream, I get a call from the hospital. She’s just died.  I scream, and suddenly I am there, standing by the phone hundreds of miles away. I ask to see her, and I grab her hand, talk to her, tell her to come back, and she does.  She’s not dead.  She recovers, but I die.  It’s a funny-strange scenario, but it actually makes me happy to think I could do that.  I’d readily trade places with her now if I could.  I don’t want her to suffer through the pain again.  I want her to continue enjoying life.  She can have mine.

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Moon Watching, Watching Watchmen

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on March 6, 2009

moon

The moon, low to the horizon and huge, has a reddish tint to it tonight.  I tried to take a picture when I got home, but it was behind the trees already.

I watched it heading west on my way home at 3 a.m Friday morning, in the western hemisphere, North America.  It was not full, but the light it reflected on a clear night was spectacular.

It reminded me of the scenes on the red surface of Mars in the movie I had just watched. Watchmen.  The only movie I’ve watched in a theater in over a year.  The only movie I’ve ever gone to see the first showing of, and at midnight to boot.  I read Watchman, the graphic novel, many years ago.  Still have it lying around.  Impressed me then, and the movie impressed me even more.  Damn, that was a spectacular movie.   Special effects aside, the graphic depiction of human nature qualifies it as literature, in my opinion, so it ought to be hailed as such.  That was one movie that surely tapped into the words and made them even more visual than the two dimensions of the flat page.  Of course, imagination has no bounds when reading, so the pictures, the colors, the artistic vision are not necessary, and so neither is the movie. Nevertheless, this is how we entertain ourselves, and ideas must be presented as entertainment.  The story, the book, the movie: all are superbly murderous, bloody, violent, tragic, lusty, depraved and, yet, somehow more than that, and much more than entertainment.

Such a story.  Is it a tragedy? It ends with horrible destruction, then hope, and finally, a theme that runs through the entire movie ends it: mankind sucks.  We could do better, but we don’t.  Even the noblest among us would sacrifice millions to save billions, and lie about it.  And the lie provides the hope for humanity, and, in the movie’s ending,  the lie is about to be exposed.

Of course, I had hoped to have seen the movie with Karen.  She’d heard about the graphic novel, but it was out of print.  She hadn’t tried to read it sooner because it was DC comics and, not Marvel.  Growing up, of course, I knew about the superior writing in Marvel comics, the multifaceted characters, the gray areas of truth and right and wrong, and the real life, love and rejection, paying bills, death, and jobs and tiny human dramas on the sidelines of every larger action.  The stuff that goes on even if you’re a superhero. Karen admires that about Marvel and doesn’t care for DC comics. I told her it was worth reading.  By the time I found my copy, it has just been reprinted, and she had already bought a copy.  She hadn’t read it last time we spoke of it, so I’m not sure what she thought.  We have similar ideas about war and peace and science and fiction and religion. We’ve read many of the same books, seen many of the same movies, and admired the best of humanity in all of it.  Unfortunately, the difference in our ages prevents us from seeing something like Watchmen together.

[aside: ran into Karen at the coffee cart later this very day.  I had to have coffee to stay awake after getting maybe one hour of sleep after this movie.  She smiled and forced a wave to me when she got in line.  I was talking to someone, so I waited until she come over to  sprinkle cinnamon on the whipped cream on top of her iced mocha. Told her I’d seen Watchmen, and she asked me about it. Told her how exciting it was, and the crowds there.  Asked her, since it was Friday, after all, if we could meet for lunch later.  She said she was having a working lunch.  Said she had to go.  The oddest thing of all was that I asked her if she had ever read the copy of Watchmen she had bought.  She got real defensive; said she’d read it two years ago! But I know she bought it only recently, when the second printing came out, and I had even asked her if she’d read it, and she said no, that she hadn’t had time yet.  Now, suddenly she read it two years ago?  That doesn’t make sense. Something is very odd here.]

When I asked her if we could see Silver Surfer together – that’s when she let me know.  She said, “That would be like a date!” with a look of horror or disgust on her face.  “Inappropriate.” That’s the word she used many times.  Inappropriate for me to ask her out, to want to meet her after work, see a movie, have a drink, give her flowers.  Even leaving aside my romantic interest in her, she can not even think of me as friend outside of the workplace.  I rarely see her anymore; we work in different buildings, for different departments, but, occasionally have lunch still.

As intriguing as Watchmen is, I still found part of me wishing I could watch it with Karen.  I didn’t ask her.  I know it’s beyond her to imagine going somewhere with me.  She’d rather go to a play, like Monty Python’s Holy Grail, with her uncle than with me.  I guess old men are OK if you’re related to them.   It’s not even sad anymore to think about. It’s something I’ve had to accept, like my former wife telling me I had to move out, or she’d call the police, tell them her life was in danger.  Very effective.  Very legal.  I could have challenged it later, but by then, I’d have been out, and why would I want to live with someone who’d done that to me?  And Karen.  How nice it would have been to tell her about all that, to have a friend I could talk to, who would listen. She wouldn’t listen – it was also inappropriate to speak of anything personal.  I’m not really sure why.  I could understand a woman not wanting to hear about my disintigrating marriage or the end, when it came.  But, even later? Long after the divorce, she wanted to hear nothing of it.   Of course, sometimes I think it was just because she didn’t want to encourage my inappropriate feelings for her.

But, life goes on. Sort of.  In Watchmen, life goes on, but the underlying tensions are not gone.  Even the deaths of so many millions can ultimately have been for nothing.   I understand the characters in the story who speak of the pointlessness of it all, that we have exactly the society we wanted.  We are violent and selfish and greedy and murderous.  Perhaps we’ll never change.  We cringe at horror, but do little to stop it.  We even participate in our own little ways.

And me? I go on for some reason. Inertia? I don’t know.  I move along with work, with my union activities, with reading, and movies, and guitar, and hiking, and it’s not doing a whole lot for me.  If it were doing something for someone else, perhaps I could accept that as my motivation.  I’m just not really sure I care about anything anymore.  I was happy enough being married to someone I loved, even if not every day was a good one.  I could have gone on that way for a long time, maybe forever.  When it fell apart, and, abruptly it was over, I found myself insanely in love with Karen.  I felt so good, so alive, so ready to fall in love all over again.  It was exhilarating to believe in love, to think I could actually have the “in love” feeling again. That would have given me a real reason to enjoy life and want to go on.  The chances seem slim now.  I feel a great sense of accelerated aging, of death coming soon, but  I don’t fear death.  I would like to be happy while I’m alive, but perhaps it’s just not possible anymore.  I don’t even know what would make me truly happy.  Karen. Well, there’s her, and my feelings for her. I’d certainly be happy being with her, but it cannot be.  So, I seem to be rejecting all possibilities that come my way: the old girlfriend back in my life, the other former lover living close by, the union sister who tried to interest me in dating a friend of hers, or even herself – why am I so withdrawn, so quick to misunderstand, so quick to push people away?

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Good ol’ February 14

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 11, 2009

090608-22 Another Valentine’s Day.  People make fun of the day, and criticize it as meaningless commercial promotion for the greeting card and candy companies.  I’ve often found, however, that when I’m in a serious relationship, it is satisfying to do something nice for your lover on a day that is dedicated to love. Once I didn’t, by mistake, actually.  I was one of those who felt that gifts or flowers as sentiment should come spontaneously and randomly, and I acted on that.  However, I knew, without a doubt, that my lover at the time would want to be treated special, so I had a plan. Since I rode a bicycle every day to and from work, it was difficult to range very far in getting flowers, which is what I thought most appropriate at that time.  And, of course, arranging to have them delivered never occurred to me. Every day, I passed a flower shop on the way home.  I had never had a real girlfriend or lover to buy flowers for before, and had no idea how early one has to buy these things.  However, the shop would certainly have had some kind of flowers left, even if they weren’t roses.  So, I left work, and headed home, climbing the slope of “nine-mile” hill steadily.  I reached the flower shop, and THEY WERE CLOSED! As in shut down and moved away. Crap.  I couldn’t believe it.  I knew of none other within miles, and I was expected at home anyway.  I went home, and promptly told my love what had happened, and she said it was OK, and no big deal.  DON”T EVER BELIEVE THAT.  It is just not true.  Later, after she’d left me for someone else, and we’d become friends again, years later, she told me that’s when she changed her mind about me. She was actually pretty upset.  She met this guy coincidentally the next day, and she became interested in  him.   rose4jam-2

Be that all as it may be, however, I’ve been with many women since then, and I never screwed up like that again, always giving flowers and treats, and not because I had to, but because I wanted to.  So, I like Valentine’s Day.  However, since that last divorce and my subsequent unrequited love infatuation and rejection, I don’t think much of this approaching day of love.  It sucks, really.   I added a note to myself on my appointments calendar for the 14th: Kill myself.  Now, it’s unlikely I will.  For one thing, I’ve gotten really interested in learning guitar, and I practice every day.  I understand a little bit of the nomenclature, and I’m training my fingers, and making slow progress.  It may take a long time, but I think I can do it.  So, since I want to see how well I can do, I should stick around a bit longer.

Before this, I joined the Mountain Club, however.  I went on four hikes, up and down hilly terrain, for lengths of  8 to ten miles, and enjoyed it.  Loved the slowly increasing strength and stamina, but I haven’t been hiking since January 1.  I used to go hiking on level ground about 4 miles every Sunday before going mountaineering, but I haven’t even done that.  Now I’m focused on guitar.  I wonder if I can keep my interest in that?  Or will I lose the excitement that grips me now?  If I do, will I decide there’s no further reason to keep on living? or will I find another item on my bucket list to throw myself into?  I can’t predict, just can’t tell.

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Where would I go now?

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 14, 2009

I watch so many, many movies these days.  The TV is useless for much of anything else.  I don’t know what I see in the movies.  I like to escape, of course, but that is less appealing than it used to be.  There are so many stories to see, ideas to hear, intrigues, and mysteries, and wonder. Still, I find it hard to sit still for movies anymore.  I wander off and read, or check my email or auctions or Word Press stats, or play solitaire, and watch some more.  It’s not so much the movies themselves, but that I am restless again, as restless as I was in 1973 and 1975 when I rode away from jobs and family and stability.  I rode away the first time, but came back and tried again.  In 1975 I rode away for good.

Movies seem to have relevance sometimes, but I am tired of extrapolating them into the myriad ways that they reflect my own life, or comment on it, or condemn it.  They’re not as much fun as they used to be for me.  Neither is my job, and my life, which once had purpose.  It’s time to return to the carnival.  We, most of us, speak of running away to join the circus, and that’s what I did so many years ago, although it turned out to be a carnival: no animals, well, live ones anyway.  There were always the two-headed goats and five-legged cows, but they were actually in jars of formaldehyde, which you would only find out after you paid your money to see ’em.  The marks always lined up to see those kind of things, and the painted signs outside always made it seem like the animals were real, and just inside.  But, a carnival doesn’t put on animal shows, just people shows.  Mostly it’s all “punk” kiddie rides and ferris wheels, and all  the other mechanized thrill rides, with music blaring from giant speakers.  No big top, no tents really.  Lots of trucks, motor homes, and trailers.  And electrical generators, of course. Need power for all that stuff.  All those lights.  All those popcorn “poppers” and games-of-chance “joints”.  Try your luck, but you’re really buying cheap fluff.  Hotdogs and ice cream and sodas. Eat and spend. Eat and spend.  The real American dream.  Carnies epitomize our values – buy low, sell high. Maximize profits. The ideal is to get the most for the absolute least you must provide in return.  Provide thrills and escapism; promote gluttony for empty calories.  Cheap thrills. cheapthrills

When I left the carnival, I realized that much of the world around me was the same, even Universities.  It’s all sleight of hand, and manipulation, and cheap thrills.  Education, sure, it’s important, but secondary to research grants that pay the bills.  Stationary carnivals.  My brain is tired from trying to keep it straight.

I went back to work, and finished college.  I pay my bills, I eat a lot.  I watch movies. I marry and divorce and marry and divorce again, and buy and spend and work and buy and spend.  Cheap thrills.  I am viewed as more respectable than a carny, but the differences are slight.  Some towns only sit in one place, some move around, but we stay the same either way.

I can’t imagine I’d really want to work a carnival again.  But, traveling is always good.  Hiking? Bicycling? The physical activity is liberating.   As you put distance behind you, it feels like a new world, a new beginning, and you can’t go back.  All that walking or biking would be a waste if you went back.  But, one doesn’t have to travel in the opposite direction to go back.  I’ve been back to visit, but I live 1675 miles away.   Where would I go away to now?

Posted in 2000s, Life, madness, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts, Travel, World | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NEVERTHELESS MORE

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 16, 2008

pussys are patient

impassive silent

women are not

men are impatient

mostly about sex

woman can take that

mostly they leave it

what women do want

is ‘our’ own house now

to spend ‘our’ money

to travel and dine

to eat and drink wine

to party and play

you don’t get a say

all for ‘us’ today

now and now and now

but sex tomorrow

I do prefer cats

but I love women

nevertheless more.

Posted in Life, love, madness, marriage, My Life, poem, poetry, relationships, sex, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Trippin’ Through the ’70′s – Chapter Ten

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 3, 2008

Sean was sitting in the Free Clinic one day when another volunteer, a tall, heavy-set red-haired guy, started talking to him. “Hey, Sean, did you ever think about posing nude?”
“What? Well, no. What the hell are you talking about?” It was an odd question, especially twenty feet away from the Women’s Center.
“I’m serious. There’s a lady I know needs a male model. She wants to do a nude painting.”
“You’re serious? Hell, why don’t you volunteer?”
“She’s a friend, I couldn’t do something like that.”
“Well, I guess I don’t have any objections….”
“Good! Hey, here’s her number. Her name’s Geri.”
Sean called when he got home, and she asked him to come out to her place a little later. The city bus left him right in front of a Fish’n’Chips. Geri’s apartment was around back, up two flights of stairs. A grossly fat woman answered the door. Oh well, what the hell. “Geri?”
“No.” Thank God! “She’s not here.”
“I was supposed to meet her here. Did she say she’d be back soon?”
“No, I really don’t know when to expect her.”
“Could I wait for her here?”
“No,” she said, “I have to go to work. I work right downstairs, and I have to go now.”
Sean took the next bus, and it was the same driver, end of the line, and he had just gone around the block to turn around. Heading home again. Another bus. Another dead end, Sean thought.
Well, shit. Maybe it’s just some kind of joke, he thought, but Geri called later, apologized for not being home, and offered him dinner to make up for it. Then she asked if she could come over tomorrow night.

“Do you like liver? she asked.

“Sure,” Sean answered, and he laughed.

“What’s so funny?”

“Did you ever read Portnoy’s Complaint?”

“Yeah! I did. Oh, yeah, you’re thinking about what he did with his family’s dinner.”

“And then they ate it!” They both laughed.
He cut up some onions and made dinner with the liver Geri had brought. They made small talk while they ate. Geri was in Nursing school.

“So, you’re going to be a nurse?” he asked her. Sean was not much of a talker.

“Maybe,” she said, “I haven’t made up my mind. I like to paint.”

“Really? What all do you paint?”

“Well, I paint people, mostly nudes. I could really use a model.”

“Sign me up.” Sean was getting really excited.

He noticed scars faintly sculpted on Geri’s lonely face, “From a bad case of acne,” she told him. As they were finishing dinner, Geri asked, “Do you want to hear some music, Sean?”
Sean moved over to the stereo to put some music on, but Laurie stopped him. “No, wait. I have a guitar in my trunk. Do you want to hear my singing?”
“Yes! Definitely. You’re pretty talented, aren’t you?”
“You haven’t seen anything yet,” she promised. Sean thought about that while she was getting her guitar, and he threw the dishes in the sink, and filled it up with hot soapy water. Laurie came back in, and Sean joined her on the couch. Sean didn’t know what to expect, but she really knew how to play, and her voice was angelic, so sweet. She sang love songs. Sean wondered what her wild, curly red hair felt like. He ran his eyes up and down her body. He imagined his arm wrapped around her waist. The slight Southern drawl in her Texas voice made him think of Scarlet O’Hara, humorous and intriguing. Sean was impressed. Sean was also impatient.
“You have a gorgeous voice,” he told her, and he reached over and caressed her throat with the back of his fingers. He turned his hand over and reached along the back of her neck. He pulled her towards him and kissed her.
“Let’s go upstairs,” Geri urged.
Sean laughed. “That’s my line,” he said, and he led her upstairs to his room. He was still nervous, however, as anyone would be for their first encounter with the big S,E,X.
Sean had bought into the mystique surrounding waterbeds, and had built one for himself instead of a conventional bed. “Ooh, you have a waterbed,” Geri said, “I’ve never tried one of these.” They took their own clothes off, and climbed under the sheet. They touched each other’s bodies, experimentally at first, then rubbing against each other. Sean fumbled a bit getting his penis into Geri, not knowing how this was supposed to work exactly. He moved his penis back and forth slowly at first. Then, as he tried to pick up the pace, the waterbed mocked him, moving in a counter rhythm of it’s own. It was hard to match. His penis popped out a few times and he kept having to push it in again. After a while, they lay still, letting the bed bounce and slosh around, until it was just a slow ripple under them.
“Sorry Geri,” he said, “The bed was moving around too much.”
“Would you like a massage, Sean?”
“Yeah! That’d be real nice!” he said, relieved. “I, I’m just not used to this bed.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Geri said, and got out of bed.

“Where are you going?” Sean asked.

“You just relax, I’ll be right back,” she said, and went downstairs. She came back with a sauce pot of oil that she’d warmed on the stove. She worked it into Sean’s body, rubbing a little on his penis. Sean didn’t find it relaxing. His penis signaled it was ready for action. They gave it another try, and managed to substitute erotic for erratic. Sean kept his rhythm even as long as he could, only gradually moving faster as he found he couldn’t control himself anymore. Spent, he lay there satisfied and happy, luxuriating in Geri’s soft warm body for a space of time he couldn’t have measured. He felt drowsy. One moment Geri was lying next to him, but the next, she was up, getting dressed.

“Geri? Where’re you going?”
“I have to go home, Sean. No commitments, right?” she said, but it sounded less like a question than resignation.
“What? I guess, I mean, I know we just met….”
“Well, good night Sean. Thank you. I had a very nice time. Bye.”
“Bye…?” Sean sputtered, “Wait. I’ll walk you out.”

“No, that’s OK,” she said, “Please don’t get up,” and with that she skipped quickly down the stairs. By the time he climbed out of the bed and hit the stairs, she was out the front door. He walked to the door naked and looked out as she pulled away. Did I screw up that bad? Shit! He went back to his bed and drifted off to sleep easily, not wanting to think about it too much, but convinced he’d never see her again. The next day, however, she called. She invited him out to her place for dinner. They ate dinner with her roommate Laurie, and after some talk, Geri and Sean said goodnight to Laurie and went to Geri’s room, closing the door. Sex this time was much better, smoother, and more satisfying. They had a fucking good time. Real beds are far better suited to real movements. Afterwards, lying in the sudden quiet, they laughed quietly at the bed squeaks and moans coming from Laurie’s room. Laurie was alone.
Geri was indeed an art student, and Sean promised to pose for her. As soon as he got off work the next day, he made a beeline for her place. When he got there she was packing. Her canary-yellow Volkswagen was already full of clothes and boxes.
“Geri, what’s going on?”
“Oh, Sean, I’m sorry. I should’ve called you. I thought it would be easier this way.”
“What?” he blurted, disbelief etched in his face, disappointment etched in his heart.
“I’m going back to Texas.” Sean didn’t know what to say.

“Uh, you’re going to drive all the way back there?” he finally asked.

“Oh, no. I’m meeting my father at the airport.”

“Why? I don’t understand. You never mentioned this before. What happened to the posing? to nursing school?”

“I’m sorry, Sean. It’s just something that came up.”

“But, what is it?” Sean pleaded.
“I can’t explain right now. I’ll write to you, Sean, OK?”
She kissed him, and got in her car.
“Bye,” she called out, and drove away.

Sean returned to his monkish existence for awhile. Then he met Leigh. They were thrown together, literally. Kathleen was a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and told Sean he should come to a tournament. She came by and picked him up. Her boyfriend was with her, so Sean had no illusions there. He climbed into the back of the van where another woman sat. Leigh introduced herself, but Sean was not interested in anyone with Kathleen so close by. He still fantasized about her. The van took a sharp turn and Sean and Leigh ended up sprawled all over each other. “Hey, what’s going on back there you two?” Kathleen laughed. Sean and Leigh looked and each other, and didn’t move out of their accidental embrace. “Nothing,” they both said at once, and everyone laughed.
Leigh took Sean in tow and explained the costumes and swords and regalia of the tournaments, with their knights and royalty. Afterwards they dropped Leigh off first, but she lived just five blocks from Sean, so he got out too, saying he’d walk from there. Leigh took Sean right up to her bedroom. Sean was thrilled. It’s taken me seven painful years from puberty to get this far. Leigh had an operatic voice and loved to yell and squeal, but when she came she cried, every time. Sean asked her why, but she said she didn’t know. Her skin was smooth, with a little too much fat for someone her age, but he loved the feel of her. Her practiced hands and mouth kept him stimulated. She was amazingly insatiable. They fucked and fucked until they were exhausted every night for the next two months.
Sean still had a dilemma, however: trying to do what was important. He thought everything was important, and that he could do anything, but he was wrong. Demonstrations took priority, the Free Clinic was next, his part-time job at the Physics lab was next to last, and studying took last place. He wanted to complete his education. He knew that he wasn’t doing a good job of it, but didn’t think he should quit. One day he received a letter from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. His grade-point average was too low; he was being suspended for six months. UMBC had finally decided for him. He could apply for readmission in six months, but his savings from working in the Physics lab were almost gone, and there’d be no more scholarships or loans now. It was time, he decided, to take that long trip across country he’d dreamt about.
Leigh said that he could stay with her until he found full-time work, but Sean really didn’t want to do that. Leigh had already told him that she didn’t want to get serious, and, he didn’t know what kind of a full-time job he could find or when. He didn’t want anyone’s charity, and he wasn’t about to just waste time at some boring excuse for a living. Baltimore was already issuing pollution alerts like L.A. Sean was sick of dark little row houses, with their mildewed basements and closets and the legions of cockroaches breeding in the damp. He wanted out. There has to be something better, somewhere. He’d also gotten a letter from his old roommate a few weeks back. Lenny had moved to Toronto, and was going to become a Canadian citizen. Sean would visit him, see Toronto, then head across Canada to the West coast and on down to California. I could do odd jobs, bail hay, pick apples, or something. Yeah, I can do this!
He fine-tuned the bike, bought tough black & yellow saddle bags, and collected tools and spare parts. When he was almost ready to go, he rode over to Leigh’s. He left his bike in her back yard and walked across the street to the People’s Food Co-op. He picked up five pounds each of granola, brown rice, and soybeans. “You’ll need some greens,” the manager of the Co-op said, and talked him into taking some alfalfa seeds to sprout on the way, somehow. He took his supplies back to Leigh’s kitchen, looked out the window, and saw that his bike was gone. Gone? He ran out and looked around, but there was no one, and no trace of the bike in any direction. “How can you do this to me?” he screamed at the world. He knew people on every block from his years of work with the Free Clinic. How could someone take the bike I had just gotten, the day before I was to leave? He was crushed, defeated before he started. He didn’t have enough money left to buy another one. He’d seen his other bike crushed from the car that had slammed into him, dragging the bike across two lanes of street. The driver had bought him another bike. Now it was gone too.
Then he heard from a friend at the Clinic that some guy had a bike he’d lend him. Sean had seen the guy around before, Michael: tall, thin, with a long beard and usually wearing a white turban. He didn’t know what he was, nor did he care to ask. He did give Sean his Gitane. It was a French bike. He told him that gitane meant gypsy. Ready for lift-off! Beam me up, Mr. Spock. He finished loading his things onto the bike. A tool basket in front, sleeping bag over the rear tire, and saddle bags full of food and clothes. Cleaning out the refrigerator, he happened to see a small film container of marijuana seeds gleaned from various bags of cheap dope. He had hoped to try growing them. What the hell, I’ll take ’em with me, maybe I can find a nice place to sprinkle ’em. Not a good idea, as he would soon find out. He also went to the army-navy surplus store and picked up a good knife. Also, not, as it turned out, a good idea either. Border agents are not happy to see such things.
Finally, he went to Leigh to say good-bye. However, she offered him a ride as far as Ohio. He resisted. He didn’t want to cheat like that. He was eager to pedal his way across country.
“Come on,” she insisted. “There’s that Sci Fi convention in Columbus. You’ll like it. I already have a room booked. You can stay with me.”
Now that was enticing. He and Leigh hadn’t known each other long, but he’d miss her. He’d certainly miss the sex. “OK Leigh, let’s go to Ohio.”
“This convention is not a serious one,” Leigh explained on the way, “It’s more of a just-for-fun type of thing. You’d be amazed at what goes on at these things,” she said. As soon as they arrived, he saw green-skinned belly dancers parading through the halls. There were star ship captains by the pool, and unicorns, trolls, and Hobbits buying and selling. He’d be even more amazed at what happened later to bring him crashing back to planet Earth.
He returned to Leigh’s room from a late-night swim, hoping to find her there. In all the party hopping, he’d lost track of her. Or she of him. Well, there she was, in bed, and certainly not alone. What to say? What to do? It wasn’t like they had a commitment to each other, and he was going to be leaving for Canada. Still, it rankled. Leigh just laughed and introduced them, without turning on a light.
“Sean, this is Dan, an old friend. We haven’t seen each other in ages.”
“Uh, hi Dan.” I’m thrilled.
“Dan, this is Sean, a friend from Baltimore, he doesn’t have a room, so I told him he could sleep here.”
“Hi Sean.”
“Uh, Leigh, am I interrupting?”
“Not at all. Why don’t you stay? We’re about to go to sleep. There might even be room up here, if you’d like?” Jesus Fucking Christ.
“No thanks. I’ve got my sleeping bag. I can sleep on the floor.” Oh, Great. He pulled his sleeping bag out of his gear and climbed in. “Comfortable down there, Sean?” Leigh asked.
“Yeah, I’m OK. I feel a little like a dog down here though.”
“Well, what does rover have to say?” Leigh asked.
“Woof, woof,” was all Sean replied and Leigh and Dan laughed, but he went to sleep wishing he’d growled, which was the way he felt.
Next day, he was up early, hunting down breakfast, when Leigh found him. “Sean, I’m sorry. Dan is an old lover of mine. We hadn’t seen each other in a long time, and things just happened.”
“So you said. I thought that’s why we had the room together.”
“Sean, that’s my room, I paid for it. You’re just a guest of mine at this hotel.”
“Well, I’m leaving anyway.”
“Listen, Sean, I’ve got some friends that are driving up to Toledo in the morning. Why don’t you go with them? I spoke to them and they’d be happy to take you with them. Detroit’s not far from there, and you’d be able to cross right into Canada there.”
“That might be a good idea. I’d like to get to Canada as soon as possible.”
“OK, I’ll tell them. You know, Sean, we could go back up to my room for awhile?”
“No thanks, Leigh.” She turned and marched stiffly away. Well, this was a slightly different parting than I’d imagined, he thought, bitterly. The Williamsons found him later on. “Leigh says you’re headed for Detroit?”
“Yeah. Actually I’m on my way into Canada. I plan to bike across the country to the west coast and on down to California.”
“That’s fantastic! We’re leaving early in the morning. Can we take you as far as Toledo?”
“Thank you. Sure. I’d like that.”
Sean spent part of the day wandering around, looking at exhibits and watching the free Sci Fi movies. “Clatou, veratis Nictos”. He ran into one of the Williamsons, Mary, all by herself. She asked him what he was doing, and took him with her to her room so he could take a shower there. Sean didn’t want to go back to Leigh’s room. When he came out she was lying on the bed so he joined her. Her toddler son was asleep nearby. Mary rolled over next to Sean. She looked at him, Sean looked into her eyes, and was won over immediately. They wrapped themselves around each other, and Sean started pulling her clothes off. Suddenly, her son was awake: “What are you doing to my mommy?” he wanted to know. Bummer.
“You see why I end up by myself a lot,” she said. She quieted her son down. Her husband was always off at these conventions, and often screwing around, but she was stuck with her child 24 hours a day.
“Sean, will you take me with you?” she asked.
“How?” Sean said, “I can’t really take you on the bike with me.”
“Oh, I don’t know. Why don’t we just throw your bike in the van and we take off, right now?”
“But, but, your husband? Won’t he be mad?”
“Yeah, I suppose, but I don’t care. I really want to get away from all this. I’m sick of it.”
Sean thought about it. After Leigh’s behavior, he was ready for anything. A woman and a child, he thought. I don’t know if I’m ready for that. A life on the road? What? How? He was silent for too long, because Mary said, “Oh, you’re right, it’s a terrible idea.”
Sean tied his bike to the Williamson’s van and went to sleep early, in his sleeping bag. Leigh wasn’t in bed, but he didn’t want to be there when she came back with someone else. In the morning she was there, alone. Sean tried to slip out, but she was awake.
“Morning, Sean.”
“Morning, Leigh.”
“Good luck on your trip. Don’t forget to look those people up in San Francisco. I know they’ll put you up.”
“Thanks. Well, I’ve got to go. The Williamsons are waiting.”
It didn’t take long to reach Toledo. He thought about Leigh, wishing that he’d spent those last nights with her. Damn. I sure wish she had waited until I’d left. He and Mary shot glances at each other from time to time. Damn, Sean thought, That sure would have been nice.
He also thought about Geri. His plan was to head back to Texas from California. He might see her then. She had written, to tell him that she was in a psychiatric hospital. She said that she was being treated for chronic depression. Strange woman, Sean thought, but I want to see her again.
The Williamsons said good-bye, wished him luck, and left him on a road to Detroit. He pedaled away, looking back at Mary, who waved. Bique (bike) is French slang for penis. Sean was riding a “gypsy” Gitane. He was wondering what he could do with his gypsy penis, and entertained himself with that poor little joke into the night.

Posted in 1970s, Bicycling, Life, love, madness, My Life, relationships, sex, Travel, Writing | Leave a Comment »

Trippin’ Through the ’70s – Chapter Nine

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 30, 2008

For all the 1970s media-hype about free love, guiltless sex, and non-nuclear families, and the ubiquitous peer pressure, the closest Sean had come to sex was a dry hump in the front seat of a borrowed car, and Sharon had only been trying to make her boyfriend jealous. He’d met her at a party with some of Kathleen’s friends in Frederick. They’d exchanged phone numbers. He’d called her, and arranged to meet her up there. He still didn’t have a car, so he took a Greyhound. The bus ride was pretty long from Baltimore to Frederick, but this woman seemed interested in Sean, and Sean was becoming increasingly frustrated by fate’s teasing. He found her house, but she had him wait outside. She said she didn’t want her father to know. She was borrowing his car. Sean drove and Sharon navigated. They drove around Frederick, Sharon had brought sodas with her. She also brought champagne glasses. She directed Sean to a closed storefront and had him park right in front, facing the street. Sean thought it strange, but here was this beautiful woman, dark-haired, brown-eyed, with a ready smile and, well, something in mind. She poured the soda into the glasses, but after a couple sips, she asked Sean if he wanted to make out. He put his glass on the dash; she did the same. They kissed. Sharon’s tongue was suddenly in Sean’s mouth and he tickled the base of it with the tip of his own. Kissing was something Sean liked. After a few minutes, his hand began roaming Sharon’s back and arms and neck. Sharon leaned into Sean, until he felt her weight on him and he leaned back against the door. He asked her if she wanted to get in the back seat, but she just pushed him all the way down and kissed him some more. Sean ran his hands under her blouse, and had both hands on her bra hooks when a flashlight beam knifed through the darkness, and the voice behind it wanted to know what they were doing. An odd question, considering that there was no mistaking what they were doing. The deputy shone his light in both faces, one at a time. Sean said, “We were just parking for a little bit, officer.” The deputy played the light around the car, taking in the glasses on the dash, but he didn’t even ask if they were drinking, or how old they were. He simply said, “Well, you’ll have to move on. You can’t park here.” So they drove away down the main street.
“What now?’ Sean asked. “I know a place we can go,” Sharon said. They drove out of town up into the hills. She had Sean stop the car in a clearing off the road in the woods. It looked like a make-out spot. “You’ve been here before?” he asked her. “Yes,” she told him, “With my boyfriend.” “You have a boyfriend? Sean asked, surprised. “Yes”, she said. “In fact,” she said, “that was him back there.” “The cop?!” he squeaked. “Well, he was my boyfriend,” she said. Sean’s mind woke up: Now I get it. The whole thing had been a plan to get caught. To make her boyfriend see her with someone else, to make him jealous. The champagne glasses, parking in plain sight of the highway. She must have known he’d be along.
They sat in silence for awhile. Sean pulled her over and kissed her some more. He opened her blouse. He kissed her shoulders and neck. This bra has to go, he thought. He popped her bra open, and pulled it down, exposing the pale flesh in the weak moonlight. He reveled in the sight and kissed her nipples. They were strangely, to Sean, stiff and hard. He ran his hand along her back into her jeans. Just then a car engine roared up the steep hill, and headlights lit up the underside of the trees around them. They froze. Sean was nervous, and Sharon sat up, clutching her chest, then pulled her bra up and closed her blouse. Sean was thinking about being arrested for public indecency or something. He had no idea what Sharon could be up to. Was this her ex-boyfriend? Was she expecting him to fight me or something? The other car turned in a small circle and left, and they sat there like that for a few moments. They drifted back down onto the seat. Sharon rubbed her crotch against Sean’s. Sean’s penis was erect alright, and Sharon pushed against it. Sean could feel her slit through his pants. He kept trying to get her blouse off, but she pushed his hands away. Sean popped the button on her jeans and started to open them, but Sharon had had enough by then. “Let’s just go home, OK? She said. She drove Sean back to the bus station in silence. Sean didn’t know what to say. He kissed her, but her lips were closed, and taut. He took the long ride home in the dark night, back to Baltimore, watching the houses slip by, with lights in the windows. Lots of activity in some of those houses, he thought, and felt more lonely than ever.

After two and a half years of taking night school classes, Sean decided that he would never finish that way. He had only now finished his freshman year. He had been saving money, but it wouldn’t be enough to live on. He applied to the state university anyway, and hoped he could find a way. When he told his boss, Dr. Lyon, he had said, “Don’t you worry about it, Sean. I know how important school is to a young man like you. But tell me, do you think that you could continue working on a part-time basis?”
“I don’t know,” Sean answered, “How many hours?”
“Well now, I think that’s up to you. Would you want to work after school, or on the weekends?”
“On the weekends, mostly.”
“Fine. If I really needed you, could you come in on a weeknight too once in a while?”
“Yeah, I mean, yes, I think I could.”
“Good, that’s fine. Let’s see – what are you making now?”
“Four dollars an hour.”
“I think six dollars an hour would be a good rate. That’s like time-and-a-half. That’s what you’re really doing when you work during non-regular hours.”
“Great,” Sean said, beaming, “Six dollars is fine,” and he knew that he could make it now. Six dollars an hour was a lot of money to a twenty-one year old in 1971. He was admitted to the University of Maryland, transferring in as a sophomore. He was elated.
The campus, however, was not close to his apartment, or his job. He commuted by bus, but he was unhappy with that. The trip took from between fifty and seventy minutes to cover a ten mile distance, and it was time wasted, he decided. I’m not getting anything done. I can’t study on the bus, and I can’t stand sitting down anymore. I need to get off my butt.
Sean had just spent two and a half years planted in a big wooden chair in the Physics lab, and studying would now mean that he’d spend all his time sitting. One day he walked to school, but that took way too long, and besides, he was exhausted by the time he got home. Then he decided to get a bicycle. It had been a long time since he’d ridden one. His previous bicycle had been stolen when he was thirteen. He took a bus to a store five miles away – bicycles were not all that popular at the time – and rode a brand new Schwinn Suburban ten-speed home to his apartment.
He wished he hadn’t. Halfway home his legs felt so weak, he had to get off and rest on the City High School lawn. He was wheezing, and his heart was pumping a little too hard, or so he thought. Before long, however, that bicycle was his constant companion. He felt more alive, using his own leg-power, and not adding to the polluted air he was breathing.
He started pedaling to the theater, to movies, or to local demonstrations against the war in Vietnam. He didn’t have much of a love life, but he sure as hell had transportation.
I can go anywhere, he thought. Just how far could I go? To California? Canada? Shit! I might still need to do that if I’m drafted. I should travel, see the country, other cities. Man! To swim in clean rivers, camp in the mountains, see the canyons and forests, that would be my version of real happiness.
However, he usually had to fight his way through herds of buses, semi’s, beetles, caddies, mustangs, and vettes on his way to and from school – in a cloud of fumes, greasy air and soot. He was not happy about that, but he had other things to worry about over the next couple of years.
The war was not over yet. He could still be drafted. People were still being killed wholesale. He wanted to do more than walk in demonstrations and yell at the President. In the previous decade, Universities had been the scene of violent protests and strikes against the military and war profiteers. He’d only read about it, and seen it on the news. He wanted to do something before people forgot that the war wasn’t over yet, even though the President kept repeating his four-year-old promises to end it soon.
He talked to other students about the war. Some of them felt the way he did. He decided to organize a teach-in. He’d been to plenty of them at the University where he worked, and he thought it was still a good idea.
He wrote a short article for the school paper calling for a meeting to make plans, but only six people showed up. It’s enough, he decided. “Let’s do something,” he told them.
The others were new to this kind of activity, having just left high school. But, they all wanted to get in on the protests they’d missed in the Sixties. “I think we should call for a boycott of classes,” Lynn suggested.
“We need leaflets,” Michael said.
“And movies, and speakers,” Sean suggested.
Sean went to teachers he knew would be sympathetic and asked them to print up the leaflets. He called the American Friends Service Committee and asked them for movies about the war. The others posted the leaflets and talked to their friends. Mike arranged space to show the movies, and Lynn got approval to use the central mall for speeches. An English teacher brought a lectern and a microphone – Sean knew she would help, she didn’t use The Prison Letters of George Jackson in her classes for nothing.
Sean went to class as usual on the morning of the teach-in. The activities wouldn’t start until noon, and he had a Genetics lab to do first.
The lab assistant, a Biology grad student, came over to Sean while he was finishing up. He knew what was being planned, and he knew who had started the whole thing. “So, are you still going on with it?”
“Yeah,” Sean said, “Of course.”
“Do you really think it will do any good?”
“I don’t know, I certainly hope so. I have to do something.”
“You know, you really should decide what’s important.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, are you going to run around yelling and screaming about something you can’t do anything about, or are you going to study Genetics?”


Sean looked at him for a minute. What is he telling me? he wondered. And why? “I have to do both,” he finally said, and he left to go join the students already gathered on the mall.
“Nixon said he had a secret plan to end this war,” the first speaker said, “and he was elected twice now. The war is not over. He says he’ll bring the troops home, but every time he does, he sends over another warship with twice as many men. His “secret plan” was the carpet bombing of Hanoi, and the mining of Haiphong harbor. He used his end-the-war promise just to get elected, and then he used it again. He’s a liar.” The small crowd cheered. Sean went inside to check on the movies.
“Hey Sean,” Michael asked, “Can you run the projector for awhile? This movie’s about over, and I’ve got some other things to do.”
Few people stayed for the next movie. By the time Sean rewound the first one, and got another one loaded in the projector, only four people were left.
He stopped one of the people as he was walking out the door. “How come you’re leaving?” he asked him.
“Aw, hell, we’ve seen all this before.”
“But,” Sean insisted, “that’s the whole point. It’s still going on.
“Well, I’m not going to have to go there.”
“Our tax money is being used to keep a corrupt dictatorship in power. We’re paying for the weapons, the tanks, the helicopters, the napalm. Don’t you think that’s important?” Sean asked, but the guy just turned and walked away.
The crowd thinned out at the rally by the time Sean shut the projector down. An Anthropology professor was calmly discussing the effects of war on society when Sean went outside. Most people weren’t listening. I thought he would be great, Sean thought, He sounded so enthusiastic in class. Thank God it’s almost time for this to be over.
Sean gathered his books, and started his long ride home through traffic. Maybe that guy was right. Maybe it was all a waste of time, a waste of energy. He brooded about the teach-in for a few minutes, but the effort of pushing the pedals and straining his thighs to keep his speed up with traffic brought his mind back to the joy of physical exertion. There was clear road ahead of him.  Cool air caressed his sweaty forehead as he leaned into his bike, becoming one with it, pushing it harder, faster.

Posted in 1970s, Life, madness, My Life, relationships, sex, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

BREAKING POINTS

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 29, 2008

Things happen

violence flares

mom throws things

yells at Dad

Dad yells at Mom

throws things

Mom threw a glass at me

broken shard cut my leg.

Dad, angry knocked me

into walls or

my breath out

backhanded me

from across a table

spankings,

leather strap too

didn’t faze me

much

but

when he falsely accused

and slapped me

one way and back the other

and back again and

his hand swung

and I snapped

knocked him down

and raised my foot

to kick!

his head in

smash his brains

but

he caught my leg

in powerful arms

smiling

never hit me again.

35 years later

married

arguing

she accuses

falsely

she yells

calls me a liar

coffee cups in our hands

I empty mine at her

she throws hers in my face

and I snap

What is wrong with you?

escapes my lips

between clenched teeth

and I slap one way

and the other and swing

my open hand

to slap again

with fingers only

but she backs away

and I sit in my chair

and smash a remote

against a wall

I am my father.

she calls the police

domestic violence, she says

I’m in a domestic violence situation

she says

I listen from my chair

disbelief replaces anger.

the police come

while I clean up the coffee

she is not there

cops are suspicious

stained rag in my hand

no one else around

oh shit! I think

yes, of course, come in

search the house

she is not here

I don’t know where

crap!

I show them neighbors

where she might be

they find her

tell me I have to leave

counseling for me

anger management for me

Later on

She tells me to stay

unless it ever happens again

It never does, but

she keeps drinking

moody

angry happy sad up and down

never satisfied

impatient

demanding and hard

belittling and mean.

I left all that as a boy

but, now, in love

I can’t leave her

my heart beats

in a hollow

relationship

year after year after year.

Posted in family, Life, love, madness, marriage, My Life, poem, poetry, relationships | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Trippin’ Through the ’70s – Chapter Eight

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 4, 2008

Sean had tried “acid” himself once, under different conditions, with different results.  He had moved into a house with several other guys including Jeff, the young, long-haired landlord. The landlord was from New York City, and played a keyboard for parties and such around town. He had a friend in New York who made the stuff.  Sean bought two tabs from Jeff and had one tested by a lab, a free lab set up for just that purpose.  The lab tested street drugs to prevent people from being poisoned.  Pushers are such creepy people.  They’ll use strychnine to imitate LSD, since it has hallucinogenic properties.  They’ll even put animal tranquilizers in bags of oregano or cheap weed, and sell it as “Acapulco Gold”, and shit like that.  Most often, people found that all they’d gotten in place of acid was powdered sugar and methamphetamine – “speed” – deadly stuff, and highly addictive.
Sean’s tab turned out to be really pure LSD-25, the real deal, so he tried it.  He’d heard all the hype about visions and suicides, but Lenny’s friend David had insisted that the pure stuff wouldn’t hurt anyone. Sean had researched the journals in the Hopkins Medical library, and that appeared to be true.  The pure, unadulterated drug got pissed out of one’s system in short order.  He wanted to see if this drug could really unlock his subconscious mind.  At first, he had been disappointed.  He could make images in a black-light poster on his wall appear to move, but there were no colored lights, no hallucinations of things that weren’t there.  I think I see it now; most of this is hype. People see what they expect to see, he thought. This says so much about expectations, and self-delusion, he had pondered, thinking he understood a lot more about the world. Suddenly he had noticed that he was thinking a lot, non-stop.  All at once, he seemed to be aware of different levels of thought.  He was thinking about the Clinic, about friends, family, and school, all at the same time.  He felt detached, felt as if he was observing his thoughts from a distance.  This is interesting, he had thought.  I wonder why people jump out of windows?  Oh, yeah.  The effects of LSD are like temporary insanity.  So this is what it feels like to be insane. He felt like he was on the edge, that he could go either way – back to normalcy, or over the edge, trapped in his own thoughts. Insanity was actually attractive, in a sense.  One could give up responsibility for one’s self, and the rest of the world could go hang.  He got a phone call.  “Sean, it’s for you,” Jeff yelled up the stairs.  It was Sean’s brother Pat, a military cop home from Germany.    Sean couldn’t figure out why Pat would call, especially now. He was having a hard time following the conversation.  Pat said he just wanted to say hi.  That was unusual, in fact, it had never occurred to either of them to call each other before.  Sean told Pat he was tripping.  Pat had been involved with drugs himself, and Sean had always suspected that the drugs Pat picked up readily in Baltimore to sell in rural Pennsylvania had been the trouble that had pushed him into military service.  He expected Pat to congratulate him for trying it, that they’d have something in common now.  However, Pat said, “Well you know, I don’t do that stuff anymore.  I gave all that up in the army.  In fact, I once busted my whole platoon for drugs.”  Weird. Who is this guy? Sean wondered.  “Well, you take it easy.  I was just calling to say hi.”  Sean was really puzzled now.  If was as if he had called on cue.  He couldn’t have known; I didn’t tell anyone I was going to do this.  The drug lab? Nah. The deal with the lab ran like this: you wrote down the serial number on a dollar bill, and gave it to them with whatever drug you wanted tested.  That was the only way to get people to trust the service.  Then you called the lab later on and gave them the serial number.  Sean had called from the Free Clinic. They couldn’t have traced the call to me, he thought.  But that guy he spoke with, he had told Sean that the LSD was pure, more pure in fact, than anything he’d seen there. “Can you get some more?” the lab guy wanted to know.  “Sean said, No. I don’t think that would be a good idea, and had hung up. It had made him nervous then, and his mind spun wildly now.  Could they have a tap on the Clinic’s phone, traced the call to me, called my parents, and they’d called Pat?” Conspiracy theories and paranoia are common to drug users.
Sean was really getting tired of this already.  He wanted to go to sleep, but couldn’t.  He wandered around the house, looking at everything.  He tried to study, but couldn’t concentrate.  He’d think about the texture of his skin, and marvel at its complexity.  He’d watch the patterns of light shift in the house.  He’d feel lonely, then afraid.  He’d feel nothing.  In the light of dawn he went outside to watch the rain falling, feeling it thud against his eyeballs. Later on he marveled at the drops of water hanging onto each blade of grass.  So much life in each drop of water!  But, he’d had enough.  When Jeff finally woke up, he asked him to help.  Jeff gave him a mega-dose of  vitamin B6, which didn’t help.  It felt as if every cell in Sean’s body was on fire, and even a cold shower felt warm on his skin, but eventually he managed to fall asleep after the drug ran its course.
Well, anyway, that was why he knew that the woman in the Clinic that night was going to be alright.  Most nights at the Clinic, things were pretty routine. It felt good to work there.  Sean had spent two years buried in the physics lab, literally, for it was underground with no windows, few visitors, and no other regular employees.  Contact with new people and new ideas was exciting.
One night, he was talking with a patient, Mary, who had brought a stack of the Black Panther Party’s newspapers with her.  The Panthers, after the initial organization of the Clinic, had dropped out.  They had decided to work alone, in the poorest, not coincidentally, blackest section of the city.  He argued with Mary about the politics of violence that the Panthers represented.
“How can we become a peaceful society using violence?  Would anything change if everyone had a gun?  How could we defeat the government if it came to a real contest anyway?”
“You don’t understand.  The police shoot and kill people in the Black community every day.  They must be able to defend themselves.”
“But that still won’t change racism.”
“Sean, what I think you should do is come to a study group.”

And what a strange bunch that study group turned out to be!  A research technician, a taxi-driver on the fringes of the Mafia, the wife of the Panther’s lawyer, an ex-prostitute who still stripped on Baltimore’s infamous “Block” to help support her family, a former cheerleader and debutante, and Ron, a neighborhood guy, and the only Panther in the group.  They studied the ideology of the Panthers, a strategy of struggle based on the writings of China’s Mao Zedong.  Sean learned of the Panther’s free breakfast and school for ghetto kids.  The Panthers were also involved in trying to coax irresponsible absentee landlords into maintaining and repairing their rat infested buildings.  Additionally, flaking lead paint was being eaten by children – they had a campaign going to eliminate lead paint and have the houses repainted.   The group learned of Mao’s “Long March” across China and his efforts to modernize a backward country.  Mao had wanted to organize the peasants, the poorest people, to improve their own lives, and such also was the philosophy of the Panthers.  One day the study group was interrupted by a loud banging on the door.  “Police.  Open up.”  They swarmed in like (dare I say it?) loose hogs.  They dumped drawers, turned beds over, searched everyone, and refused to answer questions.  They took Ron.  “It’s not unusual,” Mary told Sean, “Happens all the time.”
Ron got out later, although they never found out what the cops had been looking for or why they took him in.
“We were lucky,” Mary said, “Sometimes they don’t bother to knock, they break the door down and come in shooting.  A house down the street got raided once and the pigs shot two people.  Later they said that they had made a mistake.”
“But didn’t the cops do anything for them?”
“They didn’t even offer to pay for the damages.”
“I don’t believe the police would do that.  How could they get away with it?”
“Sean, you’re too smart to be so naïve.  This is racism.  This is how it affects people here.  Many of the police are out-and-out racists.  A black man’s life is nothing to them.”
Well, the study group would not be just idle armchair philosophers.  They picketed jails in support of striking prisoners.  Only their visible presence prevented retaliations against the strikers.  “The guards must go.  The guards must go.  Stop racist attacks.  Stop racist beatings,” and so on.
They attended trials and Sean saw, first hand, how poor people were railroaded into jail.  Police crimes went unpunished, white-collar criminals stole thousands and were given petty fines, but a poor man who stole $28.75 with a gun was jailed for twenty years. 

Then came the end for the Panthers in Baltimore.  As a group, they were accused of the murder of a police informer.  Sean joined a legal study group to help with the defense, and watched those trials.  Those trials were the worst mockery of justice he’d seen.  The paid witnesses would contradict not only each other, but themselves.  Everyone was finally acquitted of the murder, but one man was convicted of conspiracy, for driving the car that was supposed to have taken the victim to the park where his body was found.  That man eventually became the first inmate in the Baltimore City jail ever to graduate from college while in prison.
The study group kept going.  Sean had  a vision: the Vietnamese, Chinese, South Africans, Palestinians, Blacks and other working people of the world and the U.S. would unite in common struggle; they were in fact already beginning to do so.  Freed of their daily struggle to survive, The Wretched of the Earth, as Franz Fanon of Africa put it, could rapidly take control of their own lives, just as Sean had been learning that people could take control of their own health.
In reality, in the U.S., few people were willing to talk, much less walk, the same direction.  People still talked about racism, injustice, poverty, and war as if they were campaign slogans.  Not much seemed to really be “a changing”, after all.
Panthers all over the country were attacked in their headquarters by police who always claimed that they were “responding to an unprovoked attack.”
The War ground on.  “Dick Nixon before he dicks you,” was a popular slogan.  Nevertheless, Richard “I am not a crook” Nixon used the promise of ending the War to win election for a second term.  His “secret plan” had meant escalation: the mining of Haiphong Harbor, the carpet bombing of Vietnamese cities and farmlands, and illegal “incursions” into Cambodia and Laos.

There was only one thing to do, Sean believed,  Destroy the U.S. government, the war machine, and all entrenched institutions that perpetuated war, human indignity, and destruction of our Earth.  But that was not only improbable, but stupid.  Even if such a thing could be brought to pass, what would emerge?  How could petty dictators be prevented from setting up local kingdoms?  How would we insure the quality of life that we hoped would be everyone’s birthright?  No, that was not a solution. As much as he hated to admit it, Sean knew governments were necessary just to maintain civilization and protect everyone’s rights.  Obviously the world’s present institutions are inadequate to prevent war, injustice and poverty, but what would replace them?  And how?  I can’t see a solution.  No one is ready to agree on how a better society would function.  Sure, no racism, sexism, or nationalism.  No war or poverty or injustice.  That was the goal only.  How could it be brought about and maintained?
In the meantime, until solutions could be found, Sean decided, I will disagree, I will protest, and I would keep on keeping on at the People’s Free Medical Clinic.  That place is my only real hope for the future.  I will defend it against all attack.

Sean really enjoyed decision making at the Clinic. Once a month they all ate together, doctors, nurses, staff volunteers, and neighbors.  Everyone had a say in policy making, but first they shared their potato salads, rice, squash, homemade bread, casseroles, beans, meatloaf, Quiche, or funny little Swedish meatballs.
When you share your food, and your stomach’s full, most disagreements seem petty.  Arguments among friends have resolutions.  They found funding, doctors and supplies.  Patients found them.  They made their presence and their ideals known.  Word got around the city.  The Women’s Center, separate but connected to the Clinic – physically and politically – had founded a city-wide network of consciousness raising groups, and published a widely read magazine: Women: A Journal of Liberation, dealing with alternative life styles, social change, and sexual politics.
They had contacts in all the hospitals.  Sean found that he could make referrals with every assurance that people could get the treatment and support that they needed.  Some patients joined the Clinic staff, and others joined them on buses to demonstrations.
On a practical level, the clinic staff went door-to-door, asking for monthly pledges of fifty cents or a dollar to maintain the Clinic and pay the rent.  It worked.   But the greater part of society seemed unchangeable to Sean.  What could really be done to revolutionize the way our country, and the world, operated? That question would follow him everywhere he went, from Baltimore to North Dakota to Oklahoma to Arizona to Florida and about thirty-five other states in the nation.  He was anxious to see and learn more about how people were living and coping in the rest of the country.  But where to go and how?  My part-time job and student loans barely keep me alive.  I didn’t want to quit school, now that I’m finally a full-time student, and I would certainly need money to travel.  I’d tried hitchhiking to Chicago once.  What a disaster.  You could kill a whole day just waiting for a ride.

He remembered why he’d gone to Chicago.  He’d met a woman at the Clinic once, Marilyn Gans. She was pretty and friendly.  She volunteered at the clinic, and wrote for Women.  After a dinner and meeting at her apartment for the patient advocates, Sean had stayed to help her clean up, and they fell to talking until the storm hit.  Baltimore had suddenly been hit with another one of the tail ends of a hurricane, and flood waters had risen quickly around the city.  The streets were all overflowing with water, and the emergency warnings took over all broadcasts on radio and TV.  Everyone was ordered to stay off the streets and indoors.  Sean and Marilyn just stared at her TV in disbelief.  Sean had seen bad storms before, but never heard warnings like this.  Marilyn had told him to stay the night, so he did. She had made a bed for him on the living room floor with sheets and blankets.  “You’ll have to stay in here, OK,” she asked. “Can I trust you?” she wanted to know.  Sean promised.  He had no intention of getting into trouble with the clinic or the Women’s center.  She said “goodnight” to him from her bedroom. Sean was in love again.  He liked her a lot, even though he hadn’t known her before that night. He enjoyed talking with her, liked the way she looked.  He said, “Goodnight Marilyn”.  But then, he said, “I wish we could sleep together.”  There was no reply, and Sean wasn’t expecting one.  He turned on his side, ready to sleep.  They had stayed up for hours, watching the storm sweep down the streets, and talked, and talked.  Sean was dead tired.  Suddenly, Marilyn was there, under the blanket next to him on the floor. Sean was excited.  She said, “Let’s just hold each other, OK?” So that was what they did. Sean noticed she had a short top on and cotton panties.  His erection felt painfully unused.
Marilyn contacted Sean a few days later, asked him to help her take a group of kids on a field trip.  She was a teacher, and Sean had told her how much he liked being around kids, how much he missed his brothers and sisters.  But Marilyn was polite and reserved with Sean.  He didn’t know how to pursue this relationship.  The constant talk around the clinic about Women’s liberation, and sex roles, and male domination had confused him.  He held back, waited to hear from her again, but she went back to Chicago when the school year ended.  She told him to come visit.  That was why he had gone to Chicago, even though he had little money.
He had finally started walking, hitchhiking at first, through Maryland and a bit of Pennsylvania. When he arrived in Ohio, he found himself stuck.  All around, on the concrete and guard rails of this huge intersection of highways were written things like, “This place sucks! No rides! Been here three days!” etc.  He was there an entire day.  He struck up a conversation with a younger guy who showed up.  Bill was an ex-marine from Iowa City; he said he had lied about his age to get in early when he was 17.  They read the graffiti, decided it was hopeless, and  then walked across the entire state of Ohio.  Bill had all his belongings in a paper bag.  He said he’d had a fight with his wife and had just thrown stuff in a bag and walked out one day.  He was on his way home now.  He was packing a huge bottle of black pills.  Sean asked him about those.  “Oh, they’re not speed,” Bill said, “These are something called Texedrine, with a T, and they’re not harmful.”  Sean passed on those at first. He and Bill walked into a diner one night and drank all the free coffee they could get.  When the waitress stopped being friendly they left the diner and tried to sleep around back, but they were too wired from the coffee. They decided to just keep walking, but Sean was losing steam after a while, so he took some of Bill’s pills.  After finally passing the Ohio state line into Indiana, they were picked up by a trucker who told them a grisly story about dead long-haired hitchhikers being found along the highway. He said they had been castrated.  The trucker let them off in front of a barber shop. Bill had a buzz cut, but Sean had long since grown his hair long, and wore a big, green, floppy hat. He’d realized that his long hair was a factor in not getting rides, so he had tucked it up inside the hat. Inside the truck cab he had taken off his hat and exposed the long hair.
They walked through cornfields all day and into the night. They were shot at outside of Gary, Indiana, as they walked along a dark road past a never-ending cornfield.  Sean had been walking behind Bill.  Bill stuck his thumb out to try for a ride when they noticed lights coming up behind them.  The response was a loud explosion that lit up the inside of a VW beetle, which had slowed down, and Sean saw a streak of light bisect the space between him and Bill.  The VW sped off as fast as one of those could go.  They kept walking until they were exhausted and slept right on the shoulder.  A sheriff woke them before dawn; wanted to know what they were doing, said they couldn’t sleep there.  They had to keep walking.   Eventually, Bill took the road for Iowa City, and Sean made it to Chicago.
Marilyn invited him to stay with her at her parent’s home.  They fed him three different kinds of meat at the first meal he had with them.  Marilyn said that her parents had been in a concentration camp, and that afterwards they had developed this need to have tons of food available all the time.  Both were now overweight, but Marilyn was thin.  Sean went to a theater group she was involved with, and learned to play basic percussion, as part of an effort to involve people in music and theater.  She asked Sean to stay in Chicago, but she wouldn’t kiss him, wouldn’t sleep with him.  She told him he could get a job there.  Sean didn’t want to live in Chicago.  He still liked Baltimore, “What would I do here?” he asked her.  She told him he could probably get a job in a record store she knew about.  Sean didn’t want to do that. After that, Marilyn told Sean she had things to do, so she couldn’t show him around the city anymore, but she had a friend, Amy, who could.  Amy kept asking him what his intentions were with Marilyn, and did he want to come back to her place. Sean realized that Marilyn was dumping him, and had set him up with this girlfriend of hers.  When he saw her again, Marilyn had wanted to know, “So, how’d you get along with Amy?”  It was clear to Sean what was what.  Sean counted out his remaining money, and found out he could afford to take the train home to Baltimore.  Marilyn drove him to the train station, and asked him one more time if he’d stay and get a job there, but Sean said no.  They promised to write.

Sean wasn’t about to try hitchhiking again, especially without a specific destination in mind.

 

Posted in 1970s, Life, madness, medical, My Life, politics, race, relationships, Writing | 5 Comments »

Trippin’ Through the ’70s – Chapter seven

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 4, 2008

One thing the 1970s is known for is the beginnings of large-scale environmental awareness and activism. Sean, through his readings, was aware that the planet was in danger, from pollution of air and water, from overpopulation, from fallout from nuclear testing, from ozone depletion, and from the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, possibly leading to a hothouse effect. The envelope of air around Earth is very thin in proportion to the size of the world, but few people seemed aware of it. He’d read Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring,  Gordon Ratray Taylor’s The Biological Time Bomb,  Dr. Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb, and excerpts from the Club of Rome’s The Limits to Growth.  Sean decided, first off, that he wasn’t going to father any children. Perhaps he would adopt. A moot point unless he found a woman to share his life with. In the meantime, he decided the least he could do was have as small an impact on the earth’s ecosystem as possible. He decided to get a bicycle.
Bike (bique) is French slang for penis. He wasn’t aware of that when he first bought the new ten-speed. He rode it home from the store, much to the consternation of his body, which totally freaked out. He had to snatch a nap on the City High School lawn. It had been a long time since he’d ridden one.

His last bicycle had disappeared when he was thirteen. Sean heard that a few of his rowdiest classmates had been stealing bikes in the neighborhood. Sean decided to confront them. “Hey, Marconi. I hear you know a thing or two about stolen bicycles?” “Yo, Emmet.  So, you lost a bicycle. We’ll look for it.” Marconi tried to look serious for a moment, but smiled at his two buddies on either side of him. Sean didn’t have any proof, and he had already learned from his dad, by way of negative example, not to assume guilt. “You sure you don’t know anything about it? A Bendix two-speed?” “Look, Emmet, I’ll keep my eyes open for it, OK?” “Sure. OK. Let me know if you see anything.” This was before Sean’s confrontation with his dad, and it was a good thing too, because, not only was Gino Marconi much larger than Sean, but his friends were tough. Sean would have had the shit kicked out of him. I was stupid enough to leave it leaning against the store; I guess I deserved to have it stolen.   His father had gotten the Bendix Aviation bicycles for him and his brother through an employee discount.  Sean didn’t dare ask for another. Eight years later he was lying on the grass, wondering if he’d have to walk home again.
His brother John, a year younger, had been the first to learn how to ride. He was also the first to date. He was already married, and had fathered a child.  John drove a car. Sean had failed to learn how to drive one, and couldn’t afford one anyway.  You might say Sean was kind of deficient in many skills, especially social skills: no home life, no wife, no lover. He worked in a Physics research lab, buried underground, sitting in a chair behind the x-ray equipment he operated. He spent most of his evenings taking classes at the university he worked for. He was not athletic, had never participated in sports, and hadn’t ridden a bicycle in too many years; his muscles were rebellious. Before long, however, that bicycle became his constant companion. Shortly before he bought it, he had quit his full-time job to attend school outside the city, at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. His boss had agreed to let him work part-time after school and Saturdays. The first day he rode it to classes was a killer – ten miles in rush hour traffic across Baltimore City. After that, he rode the twenty mile round trip every day, and enjoyed it. He was getting stronger. He felt more alert, more alive. He pedaled to the theater, to movies, or to local demonstrations. He didn’t have much of a love life, but he sure had transportation. 
He could go anywhere on a bike, and he wondered just how far he could go. To California? Canada? He might need to do that yet. Could I afford to go? I want to travel, to see the country, other states, other cities; to swim in clean rivers, and walk through mountains, canyons, and forests – that would be my version of happiness.
Choking on fumes, greasy air, and soot, however, he fought his way through herds of buses, semi’s, beetles, caddies, mustangs, and ‘vettes. He crested a small hill one morning and saw clear road in front of him. An electric current surged through him as his thighs orbited the pedals of his Schwinn Suburban. Warp factor seven, Scotty. Cool morning air caressed his sweaty forehead and ripped tears from his eyes. On his left he noticed the metallic beasts slowing. He thought he must be overtaking them. I’m good at this, he crowed to himself. Then, there was a gap in front of the beast next to him. A white whale was pointed right at him! Trapped within, the look of panic on the face of the whale’s prisoner mirrored his own slack-jawed expression. He felt air beneath him. He knew he was airborne, but his eyes didn’t focus on anything as he spun high through the air. The car had made contact with his foot first, and he had kicked up and forward down the hill. He had time to think, as people oddly do in times like that, I’m gonna die. All these cars; I’m going to get crushed. I guess I won’t make it to classes today. What? where? who? slipped through his barely conscious mind when he came to rest. There were no answers available. Up. I need to get up. As he started to lift his head, he couldn’t imagine where he was. In a sudden panic, he realized he didn’t know who he was. He felt like he was dreaming. A name, I must have a name. I’d better just lie still, maybe I’ll wake up. But, there were vague noises, and voices, somewhere.
“What about him?” penetrated his haze. He strained to listen.
“Oh, don’t worry about him. He’s dead.”
Me! They’re talking about me! Of course – the car – an accident. Am I hurt? He forced his eyes to open. He saw a typical blue-grey Baltimore sky above him.
“Don’t you worry about it none, Miz Penny. I saw the whole thing. It wasn’t your fault. I’ll testify to it.” He turned his head slightly; saw a group of black and white men clustered around a well-dressed white woman about 10 feet away on the sidewalk. The men, wearing coveralls and carrying lunch pails, weren’t looking his way. Time seemed frozen. No one moved. Even traffic, backed up behind the red light about a block away, had stopped.
He had been bicycling for over a year already, every day, so he rolled onto his feet, catlike. He felt like a ghost rising from a forgotten grave.  He tried walking, but one leg was weak; it seemed to not want to hold him. He limped towards the crowd, who turned as one man to look at him. The woman noticed. She ran out to him.
“Are you alright?”
A quick “No!” was all he could manage. Waves of pain were spreading up his leg with every step.
“Here, you come sit in my car.” He sat on the spotless white upholstery and she left him there. The pain in his foot was throbbing now. He eased his leg onto the seat, and lay down. He was staring at the plush interior of the snow-white Continental when a fireman appeared in the doorway. “Are you hurt?” No, I always sleep in Continentals, Sean thought, angry that none of the firemen had come over before. “Do you need anything?”
“My foot hurts, a lot. I don’t think I can walk on it. It’s already swollen.”
“Hang on, I’ll get you something,” and he disappeared, back across the street into the firehouse. He came back with a plastic bag that he pulled onto Sean’s leg.
“What’s that?” Sean asked.
“It’s a temporary cast. Here, I’ll fill it up.” Fwoosh, and the bag stiffened. “Is that any better?”
“A little – yes – thank you.”
“You should go have this x-rayed. Where do you want to go?”
“Could you possibly take me to the closest place, please? Soon?”
Hours later his roommates came and helped him limp, bruised and sprained, out of the hospital. The neglect and lack of concern in there had vindicated his contempt for establishment medical practice. “Don’t you have insurance? Can you pay for this visit? Sign here, and here, and here.” And then, hurry up and wait. Lie there alone until they’re ready. Listen to the children crying, one of them with a head wound, another with a broken arm. Smell the antiseptic. Watch people ignore everyone. On the way home, Sean had his roommates stop at the Free Clinic to get some crutches. It seemed he had only sprained the upper part of his foot, and gotten some nasty-looking bruises. When the bill came from the hospital, he was amazed to learn that they were charging him for crutches! But ‘Miz Penny’ paid the bill, and sent him a check for a new bike.
Of course, it wasn’t all the hospital’s fault. There were very few doctors in the poor neighborhoods for people to go to, so people used the emergency rooms as their family doctor.
That was why the People’s Free Medical Clinic  has been founded. That was the reason why such a diverse group of people, including Black Panthers, women’s libbers, and war protesters had worked to start such a place. The Clinic stood for socialized medicine. But, there was also draft resistance advice, birth control counseling, and the obligatory V.D. screening and sex education. There was a commitment to humane health care, community control of the Clinic, and the redefinition of the doctor-patient relationship.

“What are you doing?”
“I’m checking your lungs.”
“Yeah, but why do you do that?”
“I’m timpaning. By tapping on you like this, I produce sound in your lungs. I can tell by the sound where there’s fluid.”
“What does that mean?”
“That would mean that you have an infection of some kind.”
As a patient “advocate”, Sean’s job was to interview patients, find out why they had come in, and if anything else was bothering them. Advocates encouraged patients to ask questions of the docs, and followed their progress through the Clinic. No one was ever lost in a shuffle of bureaucratic paper.
“Mr. Stefans, did you get everything taken care of?”
“Sure. But you know, he gave me these prescriptions, and I don’t know which one to take once a day and which to take three times.”
“Let’s go back and ask him.”
“Oh, no. I don’t want to bother him.”
“No bother. That’s what he’s here for.”
“Hi Lillian. All squared away.?”
“Yes, thank you. Can someone take me to my appointment at the hospital tomorrow?”
“I’ll arrange it with the day staff right now.”
“Can you tell me when my test results will be in?”
“We should have them by this time tomorrow night.”
“Am I covered by Workman’s comp?”
“Let’s find out.”
“Is there anything else?”
“No. Yes, I do have a sorta problem.”
“What’s that?”
“I don’t know if I should talk about it.”
“Would you like to talk to a counselor? Everything you say is confidential.”
“No one can find out?”
“Absolutely no one, not without your written permission.”

There were interesting counselors at the Clinic. Supervised and trained by psychiatrists, and then by each other, the “People’s Counselors” helped people open up and express their angers, frustrations, and pain. There might be only a simple physical need to be remedied or there might be something more.

“Have you thought about using birth control?”

“I can’t, my parents don’t believe in it.”
“Do you want to get pregnant?”
“No way! Not for a long time, at least until I’m twenty.”

“I’m so mad I could scream!”
“Why don’t you?”
“Scream? It’s OK?”
“Sure, would you rather be mad?”

The basic philosophy of the People’s Counselors was that it was not always the patient who was fucked up, but society itself. Unreal expectations, peer pressure, media-created role models, and laws against “victimless” crimes drove people into self-depreciation. It was radical, it was revolutionary, to just help people without judging them.
The counselors, staff and volunteers at the Free Clinic worked hard, hoping to renew a society of, by, and for the people. They questioned everything. Does the nuclear family form the basis for repressive authority? Are male and female roles only learned, conditioned behavior? Is competitiveness the root of war? Is bisexuality the future of sex?
Could we create a society in which war was impossible? Could a racist, sexist, patriarchal, avaricious, hypocritical society become one loving caring family? Sean juggled all of these questions and more, hoping to understand why the U.S. was at war, why people got into fights, why people killed each other, why there was so much violence in the world.
He was not a counselor, but one night he found myself pushed into it. For some reason, there was no one around to help a woman freaking out from some drug, presumably LSD. She was agitated, depressed, and could hardly speak for crying.
“What’s wrong with me?”
“There’s nothing with you, you’re just having a bad trip, that’s all.”
“That’s all? That’s all? Why do I feel this way? Help me. Help me. Help me.”
Someone put their arm around her, and Sean took her hand.
“It’s OK, really, you’ll just have to wait for the drug to wear off.”
“How long?”
“Sometimes it takes up to fourteen hours.”
“Oh god, no. I can’t. My parents! Why do I hate my parents?” she sobbed suddenly.
I’m blowing this, I’m in over my head, Sean thought. “Look, you probably don’t hate them.”
“Yes I do! I thought I loved them, but now they hate me.”
“They don’t.”
“Why do I feel this way? Make it stop.”
“We’ll try. OK?”
Eventually, she was alright. People with more experience in those things took over.

Sean went upstairs to the empty childcare room, grabbed a broom and swept it. He got the wet mop and filled a bucket with hot soapy water to wash the old wooden floor. The kids played on that floor.  He was mostly trying to stay busy.  LSD.  He was remembering his own experience.

Posted in 1970s, Bicycling, family, Life, madness, My Life, Writing | Leave a Comment »

Trippin’ Through the ’70s – Chapter Six

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 29, 2008

November 15, 1969: 500,000 people, protesting The War, march by a barricaded White House in which the President watches football.

December 1, 1969: The first draft lottery since 1942 affects the lives of 850,000 men aged 19 through 26.

April 30, 1970: President Nixon announces U.S. invasion of Cambodia, a fait accompli, considering that incursions into Cambodia were by then routine.

May 4, 1970: National Guardsman, “only following orders,” kill four and wound eleven student demonstrators at Kent State University.

May 15, 1970: Two Jackson State students are killed by police who riddle a dormitory with automatic weapons fire, following protests over discrimination and the Kent State killings.

March, 1971: Lt. William Calley is found guilty of the premeditated murder of 22 unarmed civilians at My Lai, Vietnam, but is paroled shortly thereafter.

Death stalked Sean’s thoughts. Not only were U.S. soldiers and Vietnamese dying, but U.S. students were being shot and killed. It began to look as though protest was not only ineffective, but deadly. So far Sean had been lucky, the draft had passed him by, and he wasn’t in jail. He’d marched in demonstrations, and spoken out against The War. Nothing had changed, but the excitement of protest had been exhilarating.

Imagine agreeing with half a million other people all assembled in one place! At the ‘69 demo Sean had been to, he’d been swimming in a sea of people. The crowd had swelled from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. There had been entertainment between the speeches, and that time the Broadway cast of Hair performed, and Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, and even the Beach Boys sang and denounced The War. Kathleen was there for that one. She and Sean were too far from the stage to see much, so Sean offered to put Kath on his shoulders, as many others were doing. She accepted, much to Sean’s shock and delight. The feel of her legs in his hands was incredible. Her mound pressed against the back of his neck. It was hard to concentrate on the speeches, but the music was fantastic. Most of those people had marched thought the D.C. streets: working stiffs, college students, high school students, feminists, civil rights workers, unionists, and children in baby strollers, chanting and shouting around the Nixon White House. It had been surrounded, barricaded with bumper-to-bumper D.C. transit buses. Nixon had been freaked out! That was the biggest anti-war march of them all. Not even Johnson had drawn so many people to D.C. President Johnson had been running the War when Sean had first gotten involved in protest. His administration had increased spending on social programs and the War. There had been good legislation passed during his term of office, so there had not been the tremendous backlash of hatred that Nixon was now enjoying. Nixon wanted to broaden the War, increase military spending, and cut domestic spending.
So there was the feeling that the protests were ineffective. Neither Johnson nor Congress had ended the War. The Nixon government seemed to think that people who opposed the War were naive, misguided, and of no consequence compared to the silent majority, who wholeheartedly supported their government. There were some people, seeing only the ineffectiveness of marches and lobbying efforts, who said, “Bring the War home.”
The Weathermen, formally part of the Students for a Democratic Society, hoped to start another American revolution. They called attention to local infestations of the war machine by bombing them. It didn’t seem like such a bad idea to Sean. ROTC, Dow Chemical, and weapons research labs sure seemed to deserve it, and burning down a branch of the Bank of America made sense – the bankers were financing and profiting from The War. But Sean didn’t want anyone to get hurt. Wasn’t he opposed to war? to violence? to the settling of economic and political differences by short-lived military solutions?
Sean really liked the SDS chants though, things like: “One, two, three, four, we don’t want your fucking war.” There were others too, people who supported a North Vietnamese victory. They had chants: “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, N.L.F. is gonna win.” The N.L.F., as Sean understood it, was an organization of people in South Vietnam who opposed their own corrupt government and were collaborating with the North. More and more, it appeared, the Vietnamese were fighting a civil war not unlike the US’s own, and the US was not welcome in Vietnam.
Anyone who opposed the U.S. government was alright by me, Sean thought, but he wasn’t about to join any of the crazies, not yet. Sean saw what the cops did to them, and how little difference it made. The real power, he thought, lay in the ability to organize people of diverse backgrounds, having different ideas, into one solid block of opposition to The War. Sean sure as hell didn’t know how to do it.
Many people had answers. Some of the socialists wanted to see more mass demonstrations: “Power to the people!” The Communist Party, America’s bogeymen, called for more participation in electoral politics, especially within the Democratic Party. The Communists’ influence was already weak. By asking us to keep on believing that we could reform the Democratic Party, they alienated themselves totally from the anti-war movement. Other groups wanted to form “The” workingman’s party, but couldn’t agree on who would head it. Every little group knew that they were the only ones who could “lead” us to victory using “the lessons of history.” Some of these weirdos had split off from one group, formed their own “correct” group, and spent most of their time and energy just attacking each other. No strategy, no coalition, no party was allowed to accomplish anything for long. Every proposal was argued to death.
“This meeting is being run by men, I’m tired of male planning.” “The meeting is not addressing the issue of discrimination against gays.” “We can’t stop war and injustice until we change ourselves.” “This is wrong, Lenin said….” “Marx said….” “No he didn’t, what Marx really said was….” “Trotsky….” “Mao is the only true socialist.” “You say you’re for a labor party, but you’re all middle class kids.” “Only the ‘oppressed’ can lead us.” “Only a Party of trade unions can win.” “Only women can get us out of this mess.” “You’re all racists.” “I object to using Roberts’ Rules of Order.” “I object to making decisions by consensus.”
People objected to the clothes people wore, to the food people ate, to the way they lived, and the way they worked. “You support the system of injustice and war by consuming.” “You can’t change the system, you work for it, you benefit from it.” Sean knew he had to do something, but what? Beats the hell out of me, he thought.
He went to a different kind of demo next time he was to D.C. Several groups had called for a C.D., a civil disobedience, in celebration of May Day – an international distress call, a pagan celebration of spring, and also a working peoples’ holiday in other parts of the world. May Day had begun in the US, but few knew it. Using Gandhi’s technique, the streets of Washington would be blocked, and bring business-as-usual to a halt.
Sean couldn’t find anyone else willing to go to D.C. this time. There was more of a risk involved. Few people seemed willing to risk arrest as Gandhi and Martin Luther King had. Sean asked around the Free Medical Clinic that he volunteered at, but no one was going among the people Sean knew. The people in his night school classes said that they couldn’t take time off work and miss school too. Some political “activists” claimed that the whole thing was just a schoolboy adventure. Even Sean’s own brother John said that Sean just wanted to get arrested. Eventually Sean took a Greyhound to D.C., and the Greyhound people there told him what bus Sean needed to get to the park by the Washington Monument. There were thousands of people there already, and a sound stage was being set up.
Once again, the performers were there. Music blared out a rebel beat all the first day and night. Words of protest bounced off Washington’s monument and rippled the Reflecting Pool at Lincoln’s feet. Lincoln sat listening, as usual. There were planning meetings and strategy sessions with all the usual bickering, but in spite of those who wanted to take over the planning, and those who wanted more violent actions, they managed to agree to block streets in an organized fashion. Sean would go with a Washington-Baltimore group to a specific street at 7:00 a.m. Monday. We will shut D.C. down, and force the business-as-usual war machine to listen to us, Sean thought. On Saturday night he listened to the familiar sounds of rock’n’roll, and slept peacefully, knowing that he was with good people, and that he might be able to affect the course of The War. The police had other ideas.

May 2, 1971: 242 people arrested at antiwar camp.

Dawn catches most people asleep, but not the police. Squad cars drove across the grass forcing sleepy people out of the way. Paddy wagons gobbled up everyone who didn’t run fast enough. Night-sticks were swinging. Sean got the hell out of there.
Some were able to regroup, later on that day, in safe-houses, churches, and empty offices. Many people were afraid to use the phones (wiretapping was so common) so runners carried messages around. Everyone was determined. The vote, no, the consensus, was to proceed as planned. No one knew exactly how many people were left. Whereas previously there had been groupings by affiliation, as from a certain church, city, state, or other organization, now there were simply groups, groups large enough to block a street each. Sean hooked up with some people who worked out of a church office that what used as a command post. He saw the runners coming and going. He felt like he was in a war zone. He couldn’t find out much. Some runners reported that people were going home, some said that people had been arrested, and he heard speculation that everyone was being hunted down; that the police were searching everywhere, and that we were all going to be arrested just to keep traffic flowing. It was depressing, exciting, and unreal at the same time.

Next day, a cold grey D.C. morning, Sean and so many others advanced – by foot, thumb, bus, or van – to designated streets. The police were waiting. Sean stood, with others, on a corner looking at the police across the street. He crossed the opposite way with a large group, and the police followed from corner to corner, with their riot helmets, tear gas, and clubs. But everyone obeyed the traffic signals! It was clear, however, that the cops weren’t going to let the streets be blocked. Some people elected to stay behind to keep the cops busy. The rest ran up the block and jumped into the street. No one knew if the vehicles would stop. People, especially union pickets during strikes, had been run over before. The cars did stop, but then police began rerouting traffic. They found ourselves blocking empty streets.
Now, from up the street, Sean saw dozens of little white motor-scooters, with the men in blue. He waited with the others for the clubs to start swinging, but the cops would just ride straight on to spook them. They held on, for a while. Then the cops got the idea to come right at them, and, if they didn’t move, to brake and slide sideways right into people. That broke the line. People traveled up the street in groups, and the cops followed. Sean watched one cop, whose activity defined him as a “pig”, tap a guy on the shoulder from behind, and squirt Mace into his eyes when he turned his head around. Someone stayed to help the poor guy but got a club across his chest. Both were arrested, probably for assaulting a police “officer”. Sean kept going. The police stopped every once in a while to make arrests, but Sean managed to stay ahead. There were no contingency plans, so they were forced away from the main streets. Then more cops showed up, and they began chasing people down with their scooters. Sean took off running, pulling trashcans off the sidewalk into the street as he went, hoping to slow ’em down, and keep the streets closed a bit longer.
Elsewhere, streets remained blockaded when not enough police were available, but within an hour, the Mace, clubbings, and arrests cleared the streets. Sean wandered the sidewalks with one large group until he saw a transit bus pull up fast. Helmeted police jumped out and started clubbing people with the biggest night-sticks Sean had ever seen, four-foot riot batons. Sean saw people go down, but there was nothing he could do. Sean spotted Phyllis, from the Free Clinic at home, running the wrong way. Sean grabbed her hand and ran down an alley. The police were waiting on the other side, but at least the riot batons were behind. As they came out of the alley there were fifteen to twenty people leaning against the wall being searched. There was a cop directly in front who calmly asked them to stop and motioned them off to the side. Sean and Phyllis just stood and watched.
“Phyllis, I didn’t know you were coming.”
“Neither did I. But Carole was coming, and I came with her and some other people from the Women’s Center.
“What happened?”
“I don’t know. We were walking down the street, and the police started grabbing people all of a sudden.”
“Weren’t you blocking traffic?”
“Hell no. We tried it earlier, but they chased us off. We hadn’t even gotten to our designated street yet.”
“Where is everyone else?”
“I don’t know. Somebody said, ‘Run,’ so we ran. People went in every direction. I lost track of Carole.”
“What do you think is going to happen to us now?”
“I wish I knew, I just want to get out of here.”
“Well, nobody seems to be paying any attention to us, let’s go!”
“OK.” They started to move away.
“Where are you two going?” the calm patrolman asked.
“Well, we haven’t been arrested, we’re leaving,” Sean said.
“Get back here.” Still more people were brought over and searched. They were arguing with the cops about The War. “Won’t you join us?” “Please join us, together we could stop The War.” The cops asked: “Would you support us when we ask for higher wages?” “Of course,” was the immediate reply. The cops laughed, and everyone relaxed a bit. Another bus finally pulled up, and the cops made us get on it. It was an ordinary bus. Everyone found out how to open the windows because the little sign said: “Push Here in an Emergency.” Sean saw people jump out of a bus in front of them, and Sean wanted to do the same, but Phyllis wasn’t going for it. Sean didn’t want to abandon her, so they rode along, flapping the windows like wings and calling out to the people we passed: “No more war! U.S. out! Stop the killing!”
The destination was a football field. What was this? Sean wondered. As it turned out, the jails were full. There were about two thousand people herded into that field, surrounded by a fence, a ring of National Guard, and a ring of cops. We’re that dangerous? Sean wondered.
A large group of people did try to bust out. Sean remembered the chain-link fence bent and sagging to the ground with their weight. The police moved in, past the Guardsmen, and beat them back with tear gas and clubs. No one tried that again. Everyone on the field got the gas. Most couldn’t see for awhile; the fumes were so intensely acrid that Sean shut his eyes, trying to squeeze the obnoxious irritant out. The police didn’t trust the Guard, so they increased their strength. One Guardsman said to Sean: “I don’t know if they’re guarding you or us.” He told him that many of the guys like him had joined the guard in order not to be sent to Vietnam. “We’re with you, hang in there,” he said.
Phyllis had found her friend Carole, so Sean wandered around trying to figure out what was going to happen. A meeting (of course) was called. They found tarps, ordinarily used to over the field, and constructed a tent, using a goalpost as the support. They met in the tent, but, naturally, couldn’t agree on a plan of action. No one knew what was “going down” anymore. More of the tarpaulin was ripped up and used to build privies for the women, and trenches were dug to carry waste to the rear of the field. The Guardsmen lent them shovels, and a water tap was available. They begged the guard for cups and canteens to get water, after it got muddy and slippery around the tap from hundreds of people trying to run water into their mouths. When night came many people were huddling together for warmth and comfort. Sean was desperate for a little physical and human warmth, so he sought Phyllis out. Sean liked her and he hoped to use the occasion to snuggle up with her, at least. When Sean found her she was with some smoothie, a stranger, who had his arms around her and was taking her to a small tent he’d made – so that she could warm up. “Oh, God! I want to be warm,” she said, and snuggled up against him. How the hell had that happened in the short time I was in the meeting? “Me too,” Sean said. The guy, Bruce, said, “I’m afraid there’s barely room for two, but you’re welcome to use my space blanket.” Phyllis had her hand in Bruce’s. “Thanks,” Sean mumbled. I suppose I should be grateful, he thought, but he wasn’t. It had turned into a lousy day. The main tent was full by then, but Sean found a space behind it where there was some shelter from the wind, and he managed to grab a few zees – it was a good blanket.
Around midnight the lights Zapped! on. Amazing how noisy those floodlights are in the still of the night. The buses were back. They were being moved out. It was pitch dark past the floodlights, and no one could see anything with those things blasting sleepy retinas. They were herded onto the buses, packed in like cattle. There were no families or press around. Sean was scared. No one knew what the government would do. Sean and most other people conjured up nightmares of concentration camps, or worse. After all, hadn’t the U.S. government rounded up and imprisoned Japanese-Americans during the last war? And, hadn’t Nixon and Agnew called peace activists traitors to America? The buses drove away. Sean tried to get back to sleep, but that’s not real easy to do standing up. Sean couldn’t see where they were going, and he wasn’t much relieved by the sight of a huge fortress-looking structure. It turned out to be Washington Coliseum, and they were taken inside. Everyone was exhausted, and tried to sleep on the concrete floor. The Guard finally brought in wool blankets. The police did nothing.

May 3, 1971: Using tear gas and night-sticks, police arrest 7,000 antiwar protesters in Washington, D.C., including 1,200 who are arrested while legally assembled on the Capitol steps.

As daylight penetrated to the deep floor from up above the bleachers, they were awakened by shouts. More people were being brought in! Some had been released from jail. Most were people who had heard of the bust from them, and joined them in the streets that morning. They got a standing ovation, with cheering and singing. Sean was totally freaking amazed. No one had any idea how many people had been arrested. The news media spoke of only a few hundred busts. Clearly there were thousands. Every D.C. jail was full. People sang songs and told jokes and wondered what to do. The police came in with bullhorns. They said that anyone could leave, if they admitted to resisting arrest – a felony! The entire assembly split up into three groups, discussed the “offer”, and passed word back and forth (easy to do in those crowded conditions). The consensus: “refuse to cooperate.”
Later, after Sean ate two of the several thousand bologna sandwiches that suddenly showed up, the “offer” changed. Now, they were promised no felony charges would be brought, but the arrests would be misdemeanor charges only! Another meeting followed, and the huge group rejected that plan too. A few people left, but Sean figured that was their right. He looked everywhere for Phyllis. He liked her a lot; they were both volunteers at the People’s Free Medical Clinic in Baltimore. She had an infectious smile, and wore thick coke-bottle lenses. They worked as patient advocates, people who stayed with a patient through their visit, to explain things, ask questions, take medical histories, and follow up before the patient left. He and Phyllis made sure that patients asked questions of the doctors, got explanations of treatment, and were given treatment options. As advocates they received frequent group trainings, and had even gone on retreat together to Assateague Island, camping among the wild ponies. Sean found her very attractive.
The A.C.L.U. lawyers finally found out where everyone was and began negotiating with the cops. The Guardsmen tossed Frisbee’s back and forth with the protesters, carried messages for them, and even brought them chocolate bars (talk about feeling like a POW) until their Commander caught them at it. He forced them all to stand at attention. Sean heard it start and he joined in: “…sit down. Let them sit down.” All three thousand or more chanted: “Let them sit down. Sit down. Sit down. Sit down. Sit down.” In fear of a riot, for that is how the media reported it, the Guardsmen were allowed to sit back down in the bleachers. Victory! Sean thought, and felt better.
Of course, no one else was allowed to sit in the bleachers. People wandered aimlessly around, ate more prison-fare bologna sandwiches, and tried to get messages in and out. Sean finally got access to the phones, so he called his boss to tell him that he couldn’t make it to work. Sean’s boss asked him where he was. Sean told him, but he didn’t seem to believe him. “I heard about a ruckus in Washington where some people got arrested. You weren’t involved in that were you?” Sean told him that the police had been arresting everyone on the streets, and that he wasn’t sure when he’d get back to work. “Is there anything I can do?” he asked. “No,” Sean told him, “I don’t think there’s anything you can do now, but the ACLU is trying to help get us out of here.”
People sang, some people performed roving plays, and some chanted. Someone got the idea to do a round with om. Sean joined in a continuous ommmmmmm that was maintained for over an hour by having large groups start at different times. Feels great! Sean thought, and such cooperation! The effect was mesmerizing – there were at least 3000 people jammed into that place. Another night passed in this way.

Sean still hadn’t found Phyllis, so he curled up in a wool blanket and tried to sleep. Some crazy guy ran around half naked, danging his penis and balls in women’s faces where they slept. A roar of disapproval echoed around the collesium, and he was gone. Next morning they were offered a new deal. Who’s in charge here? Sean was not the only one wondering. If they allowed themselves to be “processed” – fingerprinted and photographed – they would not be charged. Sean was ready for that. It wasn’t a bad deal, despite the contradiction of being booked without having been arrested, but no one would be charged with a crime.
Some were against it, pointing out the contradictions, and wanting to maintain the “revolution”. A group calling themselves “Weatherwomen”, presumably a split-off from the “Weathermen”, who were a splinter group from the nonviolent Students for a Democratic Society, argued against it vehemently. They passed word around that some of them were wanted by the F.B.I., and that we had to help prevent their arrest. They actually screamed at the crowd to stay, but they’d had enough. No one knew these people anyway. They could have been police agents. There was no more to be gained by staying. At least people knew what had happened. A vote was taken and it was agreed to leave. Sean managed to find Phyllis again; her friend seemed to have disappeared, and they stayed together for the rest of “processing”.
It turned out to be a real gas. People borrowed each others clothes and hats, and painted mustaches on each other. Sean borrowed Phyllis’s thick glasses and they both stumbled through the lines. People with P.O.W. tattooed on their foreheads with magic markers signed their names as Mickey de Mouse, Donald Q. Duck, Tricky Dick Nixon, Ho Chi Minh, Mao ZeDong, John Hancock, or even John Mitchell, the U.S. Attorney General who had illegally ordered the mass arrests. The F.B.I. got everyone’s fingerprints, but a judge later ordered the records of the illegal arrests destroyed. No one was left in jail, and no one had been seriously hurt.
Sean’s boss had been understanding, after he’d heard the whole story, so Sean still had his job. Public opinion had changed. Day-to-day organizing, in churches, in synagogues, in PTA’s and labor unions, was finally beginning to pay off. The end of The War would come soon, or the Government was in serious trouble. Sean saw only two options for his future: jail or Canada.

Posted in 1970s, Life, madness, My Life, politics, Writing | 3 Comments »

Trippin’ Through The ’70s Chapter One

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 17, 2008

“Wash your own clothes,” Mrs. Emmet had barked out one day. “And you know how to use the iron,” she had told John and Sean, “You know I don’t have time anymore, not with five other kids to take care of. Six, counting your father.” Sean understood the logic in that. After scorching a few shirts and putting extra creases in his pants for a couple weeks, and mopping up the suds, which had the annoying habit of leaking out the top of the washer, he had learned how to do those things. By the time he was in high school, he was pretty good at it.
As he ironed his pants one morning, Sean realized that he sort of enjoyed the work, enjoyed the time spent in the meditative removal of wrinkles from his clothes.  He had come to enjoy any repetitive task for the peace he found in concentrating on something other than his parent’s demands, his grades, or his endless obsession with things he could’ve done, or should’ve said, or should not have said.
He could love his parents more. He should never again sin against God. He should study more. He shouldn’t have written love notes to the girls in his fifth grade class. Not only was that embarrassing to have them read to the whole class, but his father brought out the leather strap for that.  He shouldn’t have talked in line – he had been dropped from serving mass as an Altar boy for that.

He knew now that the boys in grade school had teased him no more than they teased each other – if only he’d not felt so insulted, he might have had some friends. He worried about everything, this morose boy with downcast eyes. He was afraid of people, even to the extent of crossing the street to avoid having to speak to someone, or even look at them. He knew he’d say something for people to laugh at. Always straightening his shirt, adjusting his pants, or combing his hair, even in his dreams. He used to have nightmares of being chased, or falling into bottomless holes when he was younger, but as he got older his nightmares were about his shirt not being tucked in, showing up in class barefoot, or being altogether nude in public.
Damn, this knee’s torn, he noticed, and yelled up the cellar steps: “Mom, have you got anymore of those patches?.” 
“What patches?” she yelled back from the kitchen at the top of the stairs.
“You know, the one’s you iron on?”
“I think so, look in the box on my sewing machine.”
He ran up the stairs, found the packet of patches, and jumped groups of stairs back to the ironing board. He was going to be late for school if he didn’t get going. None of the gluey strips of cloth matched his pants, but he found one that was the right color. Damned things, he thought, When I wanted a corduroy patch I couldn’t find one. Now I’ll have to use one on these pants. It’ll have to do. At least it’s the right color. He carefully placed the patch over the center of the tear, and meticulously pressed the iron around the edge. He pulled the pants on, shut the iron off, grabbed his lunch, ran out the door, across the street, and down the hill to the bus stop. A bus was just pulling away.
Damn it. And John’s gone. He must have been on that bus.

Sean’s brother John had started high school the year after Sean, and since then the years of being inseparable had yielded to the pressures of socialization. John had found new friends, been invited to parties, and even gone on dates. They didn’t talk much anymore, as John was seldom home. The entire family, including John, but except for Sean, roller skated every weekend and one to two nights a week as well. They were either at roller-skating lessons, practices, or contests in three states (his parents had been Tri-State champions). skates.jpg It was not something Sean wanted to do, so he was often left at home to study. Studying, however, had it’s upside. Sean got to stay in the peace and quiet, to study. Nerds back then didn’t have video games, or Internet, or role-playing games, but they had books, coin collecting, and science kits. Sean loved to mix chemicals up to see what would happen. For awhile, he kept a jar of piss and spit and fingernail clippings and hair. The results were disappointing. chem.jpg With real pure chemicals though, he didn’t do much better, often just creating smelly and/or smoking goo. It kept him entertained though.

John combed his hair down, a la Beatles, and even found a part-time job after school and summers on a PC-board assembly line. He never said how he got the job, or where to go, but many years later told Sean that all he would have had to do was to have gone to a place downtown and applied, but he had never mentioned it. Both kids had worked together with a snowball stand for a few years. food_trad8.jpg It made money, but only enough to buy a few pair of socks, or candy, or books, or things like that. They had tried, unsuccessfully, to sell magazine subscriptions door to door. They had both worked at the same hamburger place. ginos-menu.jpg Sean liked that job, not for the pitiful amount of money it brought him but for the free food. He was spending increasing amounts of time in the attic by himself (hence the human waste experiment). He read a lot, of course, and studied. He also discovered masturbation. He told John about it, but John had spent his freshman year going to a pre-seminary high school out of state and had learned about it from those guys. Once, they tried doing it at the same time. (If seminary students did it, why not?) It was exciting to discover this fun fact about their penises. “How high can you shoot?” John asked.  “Pretty high,” Sean told him. Everything was a competition. penis.jpg After that though, they kept it to ourselves, but it was hard to completely hide it when the covers of your bed were inexplicably tented in the middle of the night. They had discovered masturbation before they even knew what sperm was for or what sex was.  John had a vague idea about putting one’s penis in a girl, but neither of them knew how or why. It wasn’t so easy to know about in the 50s and early 60s, and their dad took his time getting around to ‘the talk’, which was actually so vague and confusing they had to complete the lesson through books and magazines.

Sean had gradually retreated into himself, spending more time than usual at the library, or browsing comics at the drugstore. Or he would hole up in the attic with classic novels like War and Peace, The Grapes of Wrath, or To Kill a Mockingbird. His favorite reading was Science Fiction, especially the mix of easy to understand science and science fiction by Issac Asimov. Sometimes, however, he cut pictures of half-naked women out of his father’s True Adventure magazines, which he then hid among the rafters under his bed.

Aside from that, he spent a lot of time in clubs after school: Science, Coin Collecting, Camera, computer, and even in burlesque shows (which the school called plays). Those were odd, since the school had no girls, so they wore wigs and sock-stuffed bras and took on those roles. (This was a very different time.) Even the captain of the football team and many of the teachers got into the act, donning wigs and dresses. smallprocessionkick.jpg These were Christmas plays, and The Poly Follies. They were not serious drama, but just for fun; with even a faux can-can. Sean couldn’t cut it as a dancer, but ended up as a female nurse with a line or two that year. One time he was a folk singer – not too bad at that. Other times he was one of many singing sailors or soldiers crowded onto the stage. Drama showed up later on with the introduction of the Drama Club. mrroberts.jpg The first production, Mr. Roberts, had only one woman, but they borrowed her from the girls’ high school, which was now next door.  A new school had been built during his junior years.  Sean got a part in one of the girl’s school plays: Sorry, Wrong Number, in which a man plots to have his wife killed (yes, those were indeed very different times). He was the hired killer, and all of his lines were delivered into a fake phone. There was only one girl and her drama club director, so he didn’t get to meet any other girls in the school. sorry-wrong-number.jpg

So far, his adventures with the opposite sex had been, simply put, painful.

He had dated his fourth cousin Theresa; fallen in love with her. His mother had urged him to get to know her, even though it bothered him to have his mother and her mother involved. He hadn’t wanted to initially, but he agreed to take her to a CCD dance logo.gif (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine – for Catholic students not attending a Catholic high school). She was breathtakingly beautiful. beehive.jpg Dancing with her close, besides the thumping of his heart and the burning heat everywhere her body made contact with his, he also noticed how stiff her hair was. The style at that time still included beehive hairdos, glitter sprinkled onto it before the hairspray hardened. Of course, when you are 15 and you have a beautiful woman in your arms, such things as glitter sticking to your face hardly matter. He was dumbfounded, of course, to have danced with such a beauty. They had dated a little after that, once going to a swim social at the Knights of Columbus pool. There was music there, but the girls danced among themselves. Sean was torn between wanting to dance with Theresa and his fear of being laughed at. 60sgirls.jpeg The boys stayed in their corner, the girls in theirs. Thus continued Sean’s pattern  of regretting all of his actions, obsessing over everything he should have said or done.

Still, he had seen Theresa more and more. He would stop by her house on the way home. She was also the oldest in her family, and often in charge of the younger kids. Usually her parents weren’t home. One time, after he’d been doing that for awhile, she led him by the hand upstairs into the bathroom so they could kiss. Sean was nervous. “Maybe we should go into the bedroom,” he suggested. Theresa shook her head and shut the bathroom door. She put her arms around him.  He wanted to kiss her real bad, but there were those other kids running around, and two nearly Theresa’s age, so he didn’t want to get caught. Her father was really strict. They had barely gotten started when someone knocked on the door. It was one of her sisters. She was needed downstairs. Theresa left. Sean jumped behind the shower curtain. He had thought the sister would leave, but since she came in and closed the door, he jumped out and and went, “Boo!” He left the house right away, more embarrassed than he had ever been.

Sometimes John would show up there. He knew where Sean was, of course. They had always been together before this, and it was not unusual to have one know what the other was doing. Sean did not, however, expect him to hit on Theresa, but that is what he did. He went so far as to try to get her to think Sean looked like Howdy Doody, the puppet from the children’s show years earlier. Sean did have the big ears and goofy grin. 14.jpg However, Theresa told him about it, and he resented John for that. Puberty tends to do that. New friends push out old friends, especially if the new friends are female.

Sean had been in the Boy Scouts for a time, although both he and John had switched to the older-age, more sophisticated Explorer wing. As Explorers, they would do things like visit a Nuclear Power plant or an aircraft carrier (the USS Enterprise), fly in a small plane, or run the Boy Scout encampments. At one such encampment, they had played poker long after the younger boys were put to bed.  No lights for the younger Scouts, and one of the other Explorers had produced a bottle of Thunderbird (a bottle of the cheap whiskey was embedded in a wooden post at the entrance to Camp Thunderbird).

Then there had been that party at one Explorer’s house. Sean brought Theresa with him.  When he had gone to her house to pick her up, her dad had warned him not to come home late, or he’d be waiting for him with a shotgun.  This was going to be the ideal chance for the two of them to do what they wanted, away from siblings and adults. They danced to Louie, Louie, and other rock ‘n’ roll. The song was reported to have hidden meanings, and even deliberately-slurred profanity. (The song was banned on many radio stations and in many places in the United States, including Indiana, where it was personally prohibited by the Governor. The FBI became involved in the controversy but concluded a 31-month investigation with a report that they were “unable to interpret any of the wording in the record.”) kingsmen.jpg

Inexplicably, Theresa disappeared. Sean waited for her to came back from the bathroom, but no one stays in a bathroom that long. He had been completely crushed. There were boys and girls going off together, and he’d seen Theresa with Louis, whose house this was. Louis was a weird one, claiming to have an incurable disease that would kill him in a few years. Sean never found out if it was true, but Louis used it to impress girls that he was dying and accelerate the ‘game’ from base to base. Sean could have killed him when he saw him return from another part of the house with Theresa, with her hair and makeup messed up. I couldn’t believe she’d go off with Mr. Sleezy after the way we’d danced and touched on the dance floor. It was very late by then, so Sean called his dad to pick them up to get Theresa home. She had avoided his eyes, but it was obvious she’d been drinking. Her dad was at the door, but he didn’t say anything. Sean had never called her or gone over after that. Maybe John did. He probably told him about it, or he heard from one of the other boys. He was the type to tell their mom, who would have called her cousin, Theresa’s mom. Theresa called Sean. “Sean, I’m really, really sorry. Louis gave me some wine and I don’t know what happened. Can you forgive me?” Sean said, “No.”  It sounded too forced of an apology to Sean, he just couldn’t buy it. Never saw her again. He heard, not long after, that she had run off to Texas with an older guy.

Then he discovered opposition to The War.

A rally had been held in Sean’s high school auditorium, and leaflets were scattered around the parking lot. Sean picked one up as he got off the bus. He’d had to wait fifteen minutes for another bus, and ten minutes waiting to transfer. He was late.
“The war in Vietnam is central to all the problems of America,” he read. He skimmed the paper quickly, intending to throw it away, but certain phrases caught his attention: “A war of questionable legality and questionable constitutionality.” “Questionable?” Sean wondered, “Who is this George Romney character? The only thing wrong with Vietnam is that we don’t drop the bomb and get it over with.”
His eyes kept reading, even as his brain disputed what his eyes saw: “The United States…cannot stand apart, attempting to control the world…by violent military intervention.” “What?” he said out loud, “We have a right to be there, we were invited.”
And there was more, and Sean couldn’t stop reading: “Our role is not to police the planet. A war that is not defensible even in military terms. A war which is morally wrong.”
Sean folded the leaflet into his pocket, he’d read it later. He ran into the main building of the school, and screeched into his assigned seat.
“Hey Test-tube! Make any babies lately?” Ellis called out. Bill Ellis was no friend of Sean’s, having one time taken a slice of dill pickle and dropped it in a rip in Sean’s pants. At the mention of Sean’s nickname several other boys snickered and jeered. Sean ignored them. He’d given up trying to explain artificial insemination or test-tube babies, and he wished he had never heard of the ideas at all.
It had all started with an English assignment. Sean had read The Biological Time Bomb and used the idea of artificial insemination as his topic for the oral presentation. He thought he’d done a real fine job. There were supposed to be questions at the end, but his classmates just stared. Finally Frankie Marconi asked: “Do you think women shouldn’t have babies?” and Sean fell into the hole in the ice that Frankie had broken.
Even as he tried to explain that he was just giving a report, the questions started coming: “Are you against sex?” “Did you ever have sex, Sean?”
“You don’t have to answer that, Sean,” the teacher interrupted.
“No,” Sean said, defiantly boasting of his moral superiority, but secretly wishing he could be more like Frankie.
“Don’t you like girls?” “Didn’t you ever eat a girl out?”
The teacher broke in with: “That’s enough, let’s get back to the reports,” but before he even finished speaking, Ellis had answered for him: “Yeah, I’ll bet if he did, he’d use a spoon.”
Sean avoided people now, but he noticed the snickers. Once in a while, someone would ask him a straight question, like “Do you believe all that?” but it was usually just an excuse for more laughter, so he ignored the jeers.
Lately Sean had begun to wonder more about other, newer things. He read a lot, and since the war in Vietnam was in the newspapers and on TV every day, he’d read everything he could find on both sides of the issue. The news media in Maryland was anything but biased against the war, but he found out that there was opposition. Demonstrations were news, and there were plenty of those just forty miles away in Washington, D.C. He’d read about peaceniks, but the pictures in the paper were of religious groups with priests and nuns in the middle of ban-the-bomb demonstrations.

Then there was the news one night that the Pentagon was surrounded by a huge group of people who wanted to “exorcise” the place. He watched people being arrested. That’s exciting, he thought, those people are standing up for what they believe, even though they know they’ll be arrested. Then one day, there was local news: two Jesuit priests had dragged files out of the draft board offices in Catonsville, not all that far away, and poured blood on ’em. After they were arrested, and released, they did it again, using homemade napalm to actually burn the files. Sean was impressed.

He read all he could find about the war in Vietnam, and decided that the Government should withdraw from the fighting and leave the Vietnamese to solve their own problems. Sean remembered the leaflet that he’d picked up. He remembered the name of the candidate: George Romney. Unfortunately, Romney had dropped out of the race to be the Republican candiadte for President. Now there was another candidate calling for peace in Vietnam: Eugene McCarthy, a Democrat. That was good enough for Sean. He went down to the Students for McCarthy office near the medical school, and even though the people there were all college students or older, he was treated respectfully. These were the”kids” – according to the media – “McCarthy’s kids”, and they had rushed to support Sen. Eugene McCarthy when he’d made opposition to the war in Vietnam the focus of his campaign for President. Sean felt secure with them. They were rich kids, and they were older, and more mature, but no one seemed to be taking them very seriously either. We’re all in this together, Sean thought.
At first he went door-to-door with leaflets and other campaign materials, but he wasn’t much of a talker, and he found politics about as rewarding as selling magazine subscriptions. Then there was the trip to Indiana.  He shared a seat with Lenny, a college student, someone who said he was a member of S.D.S., the Students for a Democratic Society. They rode together on the way back and always found time to talk together at the McCarthy office, or went door-to-door together.
As he carefully stretched a shirt-sleeve out one morning, meticulously smoothing out both sides, he thought about Indiana. The trip had been, well, educational. He had had interesting conversations with Democrats who seemed to believe as he did, but he knew how they were going to vote when he saw the smiling pictures of Pope John XXIII and Pres. Kennedy enshrined together on their mantelpieces or TV sets. Robert Kennedy was the late President’s brother, and he had suddenly entered the race too. Damned rich kid, Sean thought, Why should I support somebody like that? It pissed Sean off to hear Kennedy blurbs on every radio station and see expensive TV commercials, and full-page newspaper ads for this rich kid. And he’s using his brothers name to get elected President, Sean thought.
Then there were the allegations that the governor of the state was illegally using state offices and state employees to campaign for office himself. Governor Branigin had some kind of favorite-son plan to keep as many votes away from both McCarthy and Kennedy as possible, and then instruct his state’s delegation to vote for his own choice for President. Sean was outraged. This ain’t Democracy, he fumed, and he decided, Politics sucks.
After Sean returned to Baltimore, he did what he could to influence people to vote for McCarthy, but, after all, not only was he too young to vote himself, but so were his peers. He watched the democratic national convention on TV. His father joined him. They didn’t do much together anymore, but before Sean could be surprised, they both saw police charging into crowds and maiming people. There were demonstrators yelling at the cops, and the cops were breaking heads, and arresting everyone they could grab, including bystanders. They even knocked cameras out of the hands of reporters, and knocked TV cameramen down.
Sean and his father just stared at the screen, and then looked at each other. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing,” Mr. Emmet said.
“It’s incredible,” Sean answered. Damn, I missed it. “Did you see those students get clubbed and arrested?”
“Yeah, and they weren’t doing anything. I saw it myself.”
The results of the convention were disappointing. Sean knew his father, as a Republican, didn’t care much, but he had really expected McCarthy to get the nomination and go on to win the Presidency, and end the war. Instead, even though Robert Kennedy had been assassinated, McCarthy had lost, and lost big, to President Johnson’s vice-president.
That was depressing. And then political arch-conservative Richard Nixon won the Presidency anyway. Sean no longer had anything to believe in. His one chance to stop the war – and actually do something important – had failed. He felt like a fanatic who had lost his faith, but he dutifully went to a meeting called by one of his high school’s history teachers. Mr. Blond was fresh out of college, and he’d been to a convention of the Students for a Democratic Society. Sean hoped to hear something exciting. He wanted to do something. Blond, however, told them about a convention unable to agree on a single plan of action.
“What do you think should be done?” Blond asked this small collection of high school intellectuals, and then the arguing started. “I think we have to start organizing for the next election,” said an engineering student. “No way,” yelled a writer on the school paper, “I think we need to get out there on the streets. Now.” “Yeah,” a science major added, “We tried the electoral process. It didn’t work. Now’s the time for action.”
“You’re all crazy,” shouted Vernon, a rich “liberal” from the suburbs, “This is America. We have to work for change legally. We had our chance this last election, and we lost. You can talk about protests if you want, but I’ve got better things to do.”
“Like what?” Sean wanted to know.
“Well, like being a volunteer, and collecting money for needy causes. There’s lots of good things we can do.”
“That won’t change anything,” Sean replied.
“At least I’ll feel good about myself.”
Sean thought about the people dying in that war, as several other people loudly reminded Vernon. The meeting broke up after that, as people took sides and most left with Vernon.
Sean took the bus to Lenny’s, instead of home. His parents wouldn’t expect him to come home right away, they’d expect him to be with his Science Club, or Drama Club, or something like that. He had to transfer twice, because Lenny lived up near the State Teachers College that he was about to graduate from.  Sean enjoyed the respect Lenny showed him and his ideas.
On the way, he wondered about marijuana and why it seemed to have no effect on him. He had smoked it three times already, making the rounds with Lenny, visiting Lenny’s friends. At first he had refused it, but eventually he had sucked the harsh smoke into lungs that were scarred from several bouts with pneumonia and years of breath-stealing asthma, and he had chocked so much that Lenny’s friends had stopped laughing long enough to worry about him. Again and again he made the effort, trying in vain to feel what the others felt. I wonder if Lenny gets high. He never seems to hold it in his lungs at all, and then he starts giggling and laughing right away. It’s probably all a trick, some kind of mass hallucination, he thought, like the way people in a crowd say that they see what other people see. I wonder if John’s smoked?
Lenny lived alone, in a small rented room. They talked about religion, and politics, and drugs.
“Hi Sean. Good to see you. You want a beer?”
“No. Thanks, but I really don’t like beer. Smells like rancid piss.  Hey, listen. There was a meeting after school today. One of the teachers talked about a convention of SDS that he went to. He said that there was a lot of arguing and that people split up into different factions. He said SDS doesn’t know what to do anymore. You know anything about that?”
“Oh, I don’t belong to SDS anymore.”
“Why not?”
“Well, it was getting to be like that. There were a lot of arguments over strategy, people dropped out, and the chapter broke up. It didn’t make any difference, we weren’t doing anything.”
“What are you into now?”
“I don’t know, I don’t care about politics. Look who we have for President. Hey, you know what? I have a friend who guides people through LSD trips,” Lenny offered Sean, “Do you want to try it sometime?”
“Nah, I don’t think so, I hear people do strange things when they’re tripping.”
“Yeah, like what?”
“Well, like jumping out of windows, and stuff like that.”
“That won’t happen with David. He’s a trained psychologist. He knows how to keep people from freaking out.”
“How?”
“He’s done acid, himself. It’s amazing, but he always seems to know just what you’re going through.”
“Have you done it?” Sean asked.
“I’m not saying,” Lenny answered, pushing his face into Sean’s and trying to sound mysterious, but coming off corny, like a bad actor, laughing like the villainous landlord in an old melodrama. Sean enjoyed Lenny’s company, not that he didn’t suspect that Randy was just a little weird, but because of it.
“You’ve gotta try it, Sean.”
“Maybe. But hey, it’s late. I’ve got to get going,” he told Randy.
“No, stay awhile,” Lenny pleaded.
“No way, man, I’ve got homework to do. See ya’ later.”
“Hey, listen, come back Friday, we’ll go down to David’s.”
“All right, maybe then.”
Sean wondered about David on the way home, wondering if LSD really was OK, but mostly he wondered why Lenny wanted him to try it so much.

Soon, his curiosity would lead him to the mythical drug.

Posted in 1970s, Life, madness, My Life, Writing | 2 Comments »

Trippin’ Through The ’70s Chapter Two

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 5, 2008

Sean lived in the left-hand side of a garishly green and yellow stuccoed duplex in an otherwise quiet neighborhood. The house looked as if the people on one side had wanted green, and the people on the other had wanted yellow, and they had compromised by rolling both colors, one right over the other, onto the jagged surface. The low smooth areas were yellow and the high rough spots were green. A windowed gable projected from each half of the steeply pitched roof that covered both attics. In the right half of the duplex lived an old bachelor and his mother. Nine people lived on the left.

Sean was the oldest of the children, an altar boy, and a boy scout. He was a “good” boy. He loved his parents, his three brothers and three sisters. He did his chores, not necessarily cheerfully, but dutifully hand scrubbing and waxing the kitchen floor on Saturday mornings, scrubbing the cellar’s bathroom, mopping the concrete cellar floor when asked, and he alternated washing the dishes, mowing the lawn, and weeding the small strip of land in the back of the house with his brother Paul. He played games with his younger brothers and sisters and read them stories whenever his parents were out. He went to confession on Saturday afternoons and never missed Mass on Sundays. Sometimes he just sat on an attic window ledge, wondering what it would feel like to hit the gravel in the driveway below, and what the most painless way to fall would be. Sean wanted out.
“Sean! Get in here!” Sean’s mom bellowed while he sat watching the old black and white one night.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said, jumping up and running into the kitchen. Only twenty years older than him, Sean’s mother looked tired. She had gone upstairs to “lay down” before Sean’s dad had left for his second nighttime job with a janitorial crew. She was wearing a faded pink house dress, one or two sizes too small, and what looked like hundred-year-old pink cloth slippers.
“Look at the mess Brian made,” she said. A bowl of leftover peas was upside down under one of the table’s long benches. Brian was the six-year-old. “This is your fault. How come you haven’t done the dishes yet?” she demanded.
“I was watching Star Trek. I never get to see it, and I was going to clean up when it was over.”
“And this is what happened.”
“It’s not my fault.”
“Of course it’s your fault, you were supposed to have the dishes done.”
“What does it matter when I do ’em? Brian spilled the peas. Why aren’t you mad at him? Why don’t you make him clean it up?”

“Listen you. You don’t talk back to me. I’m your mother,” she screamed. At that point Sean knew he was in trouble, knew he should shut up and ignore it, but he was tired of seeing the four youngest get away with murder, and he was tired of being blamed for things he hadn’t done.
“Why are you yelling at me? He’s the one,” pointing at Brian, “that made the mess,” Sean yelled back.
“How dare you raise your voice to me?” she screeched, and she picked up a glass and threw it at him. The glass broke on the wall and a flying piece of it cut Sean’s leg. He stormed around her, dripping spots of blood, out of the kitchen, along the hall, and out of the front door.
“Where do you think you’re going?” she screamed. Sean looked back as he closed the door, but he didn’t say anything. He closed the glass storm door slowly, suppressing an urge to slam it into pieces. It had been shattered at one time or another by all four brothers.
“Your father will take care of you when he gets home,” came through the door.
I’m sure of that, Sean thought, That’s what you always do, sic him on us.
He trotted up the street, past all the quiet houses, and slowed to a walk up the hill that had been paved into street. The old tree house was gone, of course, but a few of the trees that used to cover the whole hillside still stood along the edges of the new sidewalks. He climbed an old maple and sat on a thick branch that forked into two near the trunk. It was a sturdy seat. He noticed squashed peas on one shoe, which he scraped off with a rare leaf. There were just a few tenuous leaves hanging on, fluttering in the autumn breezes.

“Damn it! I want to get away from here,” he shouted at the stars, and he laughed, bitterly, crazily, almost crying, when he realized that he’d spoken out loud. He often gazed longingly at the stars, hoping to see a UFO, hoping that aliens would land and invite him to come with them. That’s such a stupid idea, he thought, I don’t know why I think of it so much. But he wanted a new life, somewhere, anywhere, and he knew it was all up to him: I’ve got to finish high school. What will I do if I don’t graduate? Wash dishes? I sure can shine and polish. Scrub floors? Yeah, a floor’s not done unless the corners are clean. And I can wax without leaving streaks. What else do people do? Drive trucks? Hell, I don’t even have a driver’s license.
“I’m sure as hell not going to make the same stupid mistake they did and get married so young. Seven kids later, all they have are bills, bill collectors on the phone, bill collectors at the door, and fights over money
.
“Tell him I’m not home,” he had to tell the ones who came to the door actually expecting money, even while his mom hid behind the door. Often the aggressive ones wouldn’t believe he was old enough to be home alone, and they challenged him, insisting on seeing his parents. On the phone he was told to say: “The check’s in the mail.” Sean shifted uncomfortably on his perch. Why do they fight so much? It doesn’t help. Why did they have to have so many kids? The memory of last night’s fight echoed in his mind, as it had echoed through the house to where he had lain in bed in the attic.

“More money? What did you do with the money I gave you? You sure didn’t spend it all on food.”
“You want to bet? There’s hardly enough as it is. I still have to send Sean or Paul down to the store every week. We run out of things. Maybe we’d have more money if you didn’t stop at bars on the way home.”
“I’ve got to cash my check somewhere.” His voice got louder, angrier. “Why can’t I have a few lousy beers, damn it? You’re spending too much, that’s all.”
“Beers? That’s all you spend it on? I spend too much? The kids need shoes, for Christ’s sake. And clothes.”
“Clothes? They just got clothes last Easter. And what do you mean ‘That’s all’? Tell me. Tell me.”

“They grow out of them. They’re growing, remember? And you know what I mean. You know damn well what I mean.”

The wind was getting stronger, and colder. Sean tucked his hands under his arms. Last night he had tucked his head under his pillow, trying to shut out the noise, but it hadn’t helped. I’m not going down there, he told himself, I’m tired. He and John had gotten in between their parents before, and stopped a fight by staring at them, or laughing at their inanities.
There were crashes mixed in with the shouting. That’s mom, throwing things, and he could see her arm winding back for the pitch. There were bangs and thuds, too, as his dad smashed his fists against walls and tables. He tried to ignore it, to go to sleep, but some words drilled through the pillow into his ears.

“Divorce? You know we can’t get divorced, the Church doesn’t allow it.”
“We can’t go on like this. Something’s got to give. We’ll have to separate, or something.”
“We don’t have any choice. What about the kids? You know we can’t separate with seven kids.”

Sean shivered, and wished he had brought a coat. No way I’m going back for one. I’m staying right here. I don’t care. This is never gonna to happen to me. I’ll be damned if I’ll have kids before I have the money to bring ’em up right. I’ve got to go to college. Shit, I’m gonna have to study my ass off to get accepted anywhere after failing last year. Wouldn’t it be something if I could go to California?
He dreamed about living on his own, buying food just for himself, buying his own clothes, and having things that were his, just his, for his own use. He wanted to be a chemist, mixing solutions, investigating the unknown and creating new things. He wanted respect. People will know who I am, he mused, I’ll be somebody.

But, it was getting pretty cold just sitting in that tree. He had cooled down by then, so it was time to get himself home, even though he knew he was going to get his butt kicked. Funny how cold the night is, I hadn’t noticed it when I left, he was thinking as he jumped out of the tree and double-timed it home. The street was dark except for his house; someone had turned the porch light on. Well, that’s something. At least I’m expected. The old Ford ‘wagon was in the driveway, so Sean’s dad was home. Sean crept up the porch steps and stood outside the door. Now or never, he decided. He walked in through the hallway to the kitchen and started cleaning up the mess. He heard his father come down the stairs, but he pretended not to notice. Sean’s dad came up behind him. Sean found himself amazingly calm.
“Why were you yelling at your mother?”
Sean started to turn around, but before he could speak, he heard the familiar command: “Look at me when I’m talking to you,” and his dad grabbed Sean’s chin in his hand.
Sean worked his jaw muscles against that hand, “She was yelling at me.”

“Why was she yelling at you?” his dad bellowed, and let go of his chin.

“Because I hadn’t washed the dishes yet, and Brian knocked the peas off the table, and I don’t think it was my fault.”

“You don’t think? And why weren’t the dishes done?”

“I wanted to watch a show that comes on after supper. I thought I’d watch it and then do the dishes.”

“Who told you to think? Come on, tell me, who told you to think? How dare you talk back to your mother? Listen you, you speak when you’re spoken to, and don’t ever, ever raise your voice to either one of us.”

While his father was working himself up, Sean had maneuvered himself around to the other side of the table by continuing to clean up. He knew he was going to get hit – as usual – but somehow he didn’t want it, this time. Parents, he was taught in Catholic school, are second only to God. You obey everything they say, unless it violates God’s laws. Sean’s father made sure of that. Sean swore he never tried to piss his father off, but he managed to find fault with most everything Sean did anyway.
“Come over here, I’m talking to you,” Sean’s dad said. They started playing cat and mouse around the table. Sean didn’t like the look on his father’s face.
“No,” he said. The older man’s snarled face told Sean that he’d kill him if he could.

“You don’t talk to me like that. If I have to come over this table to get to you, your lazy ass is going to be sorry.” He don’t know exactly why, but Sean suddenly took a swing at his dad. He tried to pull his arm back, even though he was too far away to connect anyway, but it was too late, his father had already seen it: “What? I’ll kill you!” And he probably would have too. Sean’s mom usually interceded before her husband did any real damage, and she had to drag him off of Sean this time too.   His father had jumped right over the table and backhanded Sean through the wall before Sean could move. Sean crawled under the table but he was trapped in the corner. His father alternated between screaming in his ears and whacking him on the head until Sean suddenly realized it was over. His mother had his father’s arms pinned behind his back.   By the time Sean left home that hole in the drywall still hadn’t been repaired.  He loved his dad. Most of the time he figured he deserved whatever punishment his father came up with. There were times, like this, when Sean doubted his father’s sanity, as his father doubted his. Once, when Sean was much younger, his dad had found a little bit of laundry detergent on the cellar floor and two empty boxes,  and he had threatened Sean and John with the strap if they denied doing it. He had made them stand there and sweat. “Someone poured all the soap out of those boxes,” he said.

“I don’t want to hear one word, unless it’s: ‘I did it.’  Well?  Speak up.”

“But, we didn’t…” Whack.

“I said not a word.”

The next time he challenged Sean like that, Sean kept his mouth shut.

“Why don’t you talk? What’s wrong with you?” Whack.
“But, you said not to talk unless it was to confess.”
“You literal-minded idiot.” Whack.

Sean lived in fear for most of his childhood. His dad had told him, more than once, how much he could really hurt him if he tried, and how much he had to hold back. Sean believed him. He tried not to ever step out of line, not at home, not at school, and not in church.

It was years later before he understood that his dad was probably keeping inside all the shit he took at work, and the problems he had stretching money to cover the bills, and was dumping it all on any convenient scapegoat once he had a couple beers in him. At the time Sean was not really sympathetic. Damn, but I want out, was his constant thought.

As it was, he stayed late at school as often as he could. There was sometimes dinner in a pot on the stove when he got home. Coming home from a Drama Club rehearsal one night, he looked in the pot, and tasted it; it was still warm, so he sat down to eat. His mother came down the stairs and into the kitchen. She was wearing a red dress with red high heels, and she had painted her lips deep red
“Wow. You look different,” he told her. 
“Yeah, we’ve got a contest tonight. And we need you to watch the kids.” Sean shoveled some more food in his mouth. That was nothing new, they were always at the roller rink, practicing, practicing, practicing. Sometimes, he thought, I wish I’d kept taking lessons. At least I wouldn’t be the one they use to watch the kids.
“I was hoping you’d get home before now, we have to leave soon,” his mother emphasized. Sean swallowed quickly, so he could ask, “What about John? or Pat? I have a lot of homework to do.”
“You should have come home sooner. John’s already at the rink. And Pat’s not here. He went to Pennsylvania.”
“Again?” Sean asked. His brother Pat had disappeared three times already, the last time was when he and their father had broken the dining room table during a fight. Pat was a feisty one. He always ended up with Aunt Millie, but he usually came back.
“Well, yes, but this time he’s going to stay there.”
I should have come home earlier, Sean thought.
“What about school? What will he do about that?”

“Your Aunt Millie will put him in high school there.”
“Oh, he’ll like that,” Sean said, cynically. Aunt Millie was a teacher herself.
“He’ll have to, there was nothing else to do. You know how he and your father get along.”
Yeah, Sean mused, I wish I’d thought of that.
Just then his father came down the stairs yelling, “We’re gonna be late.”
“Yeah, I’m ready, I was just waiting for you,” she yelled back, but to Sean she said, “You can let them stay up to watch TV, but make sure they’re in bed by eight-thirty.”
“OK,” Sean agreed.
After they left, he tried to study, but the kids were fighting over which show they were going to watch, so he went in to arbitrate. “Look,” he asked Karen, if you’ll watch what Brian wants to watch, I’ll let you pick the next show.”
“But mom said we have to go to bed after this.”
“I’ll let you all stay up for another show.”
“Yeaaaah,” they all yelled, and Karen came over and climbed on his lap, so he sat and watched TV with them.
Of course, when the next show was over, they all saw the announcement for another one, so they pleaded for one more.
“Alright, one more. But, this is it, understand? You can watch this show, but then you have to go to bed, OK?”
“OK,” they all said, in unison. Sean was pleased. It wasn’t often that he’d ever been able to stay up late, so he was glad to give his sisters and little brother some freedom. And, they did get up when the show finished, and Sean turned off the TV. Karen, Betsy and Kathy were already on the stairs, when Sean heard the TV. Brian had turned it back on and sat down in front of it.
“I said it’s time for bed.”
“No.”
“Hey, I let you stay up an hour later than you were supposed to already. Now, get upstairs.”
“No, I wanna watch TV.”

Sean turned the tube off, Brian turned it back on, and Sean saw red. “I told you to get upstairs,” he yelled, but Brian just sat there. Sean picked him up, and then lifted him up over his head. “When I tell you to do something, you do it,” he yelled, and he carried Brian up the stairs that way, and threw him down on his bed. “And stay there, you little twerp.”
“Ow, ow, ow. My arm. My arm. You broke my arm. Aaaah. Aaaah. Aaaah,” Brian started screaming.
Sean looked at his arm, decided that he was OK, and told him: “Shut up and go to sleep,” and went back to his books. He listened to his brother crying and screaming. When he didn’t stop crying he went back upstairs to check on him.
“Brian.”

“Aaaah. Aaaah.”
“Brian, let me see your arm.”
“Aaaah, aaaah, aaaah. It hurts.”
“OK, OK, it’s not broken. Just go to sleep. You’ll feel better in the morning. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you, I was just mad at you, like Mom and Dad get mad at me. They told me to put you to bed, I have to do what they tell me. Understand?”
Brian stopped crying, but he was still whimpering into his pillow. Sean sat on the edge of the bed until Brian fell asleep. Damn, I hope he’s not hurt. They’ll kill me, he thought. Damn, I’ve got to get out of here. I’m becoming just like Dad. I don’t want to hurt these guys, not ever. This is ridiculous. I almost hurt Brian. I’m not going to be like them. I’m not, I’m not.
As it turned out, Brian wasn’t hurt, but the girls told their mother what happened, and she chewed him out.
“Didn’t you realize you could have hurt him?”
“I didn’t think about it. I was mad. I just carried him upstairs. I didn’t throw him on the floor, I made sure he fell in the middle of the bed.”
“And what if he hadn’t? What if he had hit the frame? or the headboard? You can’t lose your temper like that with them, they’re too little.”
“I know that. I’m not the only one with a temper around here.”
They left it at that. Sean just stared at his mother, and she just looked at him. There was a sadness in her face that made her look far older than the 20-year difference in their ages.

It hadn’t always been that way.  Sean liked his father’s laugh, but it wasn’t heard much anymore.  As each new kid had come along, things had gotten tougher: more bills, more arguments, and less of him around.  They had moved four times that Sean could remember.  Mr. Emmett came home from his job every day, and they all sat down promptly to eat at 4:30.  Dinners were quiet affairs, unless Sean’s mom had a complaint about one of the kids and wanted Mr. Emmett to “take care of it.”  Usually all he wanted was to eat and take a nap before he headed out again to his second job.  Sean remembered him helping put the kids to bed, fixing things around the house, and watching TV together. Mr. Emmett had shown Sean how to sweat copper tubing together; how to splice electric wires, how to take a sink trap apart and fix a toilet.  He used to take Sean and John for archery target practice.  Sean could pull his father’s big bow all the way back now, but there wasn’t any fun to it without his dad along.  It just didn’t happen anymore.  Trips to the drive in or to the beach were a lot less fun, usually cut short because one kid or another was sick or crying. It was quite a hassle to get seven kids organized and transported anywhere.  Between the jobs and the roller skating, there wasn’t much going on at home anymore.  The younger kids all saw their dad more than Sean did, as no one else had opted out of the endless skating competitions and practices as Sean had.  However, practice was hard, and Sean’s parents made everyone work at it.  Good for some, not for others.

Mr. Emmett was increasingly irritable, and demanding.   Sean loved his dad; missed the times they’d talked or done things together.  No amount of discipline could make Sean forget he loved his parents.

However, there is sometimes a breaking point, and Sean’s came one evening.  Mr. Emmett had called him down from the attic, stood facing the hallway from the kitchen doorway.  He had then accused Sean of stealing some money from his wallet, something Sean knew better than to even think of doing. “I didn’t do it,” he insisted.
“I don’t believe you.”
“Well, I didn’t do it. What do you want me to say?”
“I told you to not to ever talk back to me.” Whack, he backhanded Sean across the face.

“Well, speak up, damn you.” Sean didn’t say another word, didn’t want to make the situation worse. Whack again. Again. No tears now.  Sean stared directly into his father’s eyes, rage building up in him.  He couldn’t speak, because he knew his voice would be too loud.  That would be another heresy, raising his voice.  He stood his ground.  His dad slapped him again, and again, on either side of his head until, suddenly, Sean’s rage took hold.  He pushed his dad hard, knocked him right over. He jumped on him, and all he could think of was killing him. Sean’s dad grabbed his arms so Sean brought his foot up and tried to kick his dad’s head in. Fortunately, his dad was strong. He grabbed Sean’s leg when it was inches from his face. Oddly enough, he was smiling. The rest of the kids were sitting at the kitchen table a few feet away, and they were screaming, “Sean and Daddy are fighting,” and they started crying.  Sean and his dad both got up, looked at the kids, looked at each other, and walked away.

Posted in 1970s, family, Life, madness, My Life, Writing | 4 Comments »

Trippin’ through the ’70s – Chapter Five

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on May 20, 2008

Sean was in love – not, however, with Lenny, but with Lenny’s friends, especially Kathleen. He knew now that Lenny was gay, and that he wanted to share more than an apartment, yet he didn’t feel threatened by that. Life had suddenly become an adventure, a big party-cum-camping trip for Sean. Never having had friends who weren’t brothers or sisters or cousins, Sean was having the time of his life. There were parties and trips to the beach with Lenny’s college buddies, who seemed to accept Sean right away. The beach was suddenly a lot more fun. There were Frisbees to catch, and balls to bounce back and forth over nets and rock ‘n roll: funky, loud, and full of sexual rhythm. Sean loved it all.
There was Scott, who played the best Scrabble games Sean had ever seen. He missed the games he had played for so many years with his brother John. Scott, a grad student in economics, took the game seriously, plunking down seven-letter words several times a game, and teaching Sean how to go for the big scores.
Bill and Lucy were married, but they threw the best damn parties Sean had ever been to. Bill, a phone company engineer, played Alice’s Restaurant on his guitar, and everybody sang. Sean didn’t go home for Christmas that year, he went to Bill and Lucy’s, learned how to string popcorn and cranberries, and helped un-trim the tree of miniature bottles of Chianti, Seagrams-7, or Jack Daniels.
Jim was the strangest of the group. He was in the Air force, and had flown helicopters in Nam. The stories he told convinced Sean never to go there. Jim would show up at most parties with a supply of Jimi Hendricks’ albums – ‘Scuse me while I curse the sky – get as stoned as possible, and just sit in a corner playing air guitar. Sean wanted to know about Vietnam.
“You know how they interrogate prisoners?” Jim would start off with, “We would take suspected VC…”
“What’s a VC?”
“Vietcong. The communists, ya’ know? Well, the Lieutenant would have us take villagers up, and hang ’em out the door until they talked. You should have seen ’em squirm, and beg, and pee themselves.”
“And what if they didn’t talk?” Sean asked.
“Then he would kick ’em off anyway. Some of the guys just loved to watch the gooks go splat.”
“But what,” Sean asked, “if he or she weren’t VC? or if they didn’t know anything?”
“Then they got dropped anyway. The next guy we took up would usually talk.”
Jim said he’d never go back there again, and he wanted to get out, but “the Air Force still has my ass for a while.”
There was no escaping the war those days, and Sean knew he could still be drafted. He was going to have to decide what to do pretty damn soon.
But right now, what Sean really loved to do was go to Kathleen’s parties. She was brash and beautiful, with long brown hair flowing over a lean sensual body. Sean loved to watch her dance. She was a librarian. She wrote poetry. Her favorite musical groups were the Doors, and Simon and Garfunkel, so Sean bought their music and became a fan. She was a reader too, and he read the books she read. At a party one night, she exhaled a lungful of smoke from the joint passing around and told Sean: “Hey man, I’ve got a book you should read.” It was Atlas Shrugged, and he immediately became a fan of Ayn Rand: champion of absolute individual freedom. He visited Kathy, discussing individualism, and Capitalism, and the war in Vietnam, but she didn’t take Sean’s attentions very seriously. She considered him “still wet behind the ears,” and besides, she was in love with Brian. Brain, a teacher, was engaged to be married to Margaret. Kathy didn’t like that much, but she lived in a fantasy world where she was Scarlett O’Hara, and Brian was Ashley, who really loved her, not the woman he was marrying.
Sean was part of this family now.
“What’s wrong with you Sean? Don’t you know Kathy’s in love with Brian?” Lenny was fond of reminding Sean.
“Yeah, but I think she’s great.”
“Why?”
“Um, well, maybe because she’s a beautiful, long-legged, college-educated, beer-drinking poet.”
“You’re a hopeless case.”
“Maybe. Are you any better?”
“Oooh, you’re a nasty one, aren’t you?”
“You’re strange, Lenny.”
“I’m strange? And just who are you? You don’t even know what your future is, much less care.”
“I’m know I’m not going to Vietnam.”
“Why don’t you get out of it? Couldn’t you get a letter from your doctor or something?”
“Maybe. But I don’t think that’s the way to do it.”
“Then what is?”
“I don’t know. Revolution maybe.”
“Revolution? You shouldn’t talk that way, the walls have ears. You want to overthrow the government?”
“Why not? It sucks. The air’s polluted, rivers and lakes are dying – hell, the Patapsco River is dead – and the land is being sterilized by chemical fertilizers. Our food is not even safe to eat anymore.”
“That’s no reason to overthrow the government.”
“It’s not? You want more? Look at all the people dying in Vietnam. What about racism, and poverty? Our own government’s part of the problem.”
“Jesus Christ! You’re a nihilist!” Lenny’s face was turning red.
“What’s that?” Sean asked.
“What?” Lenny was pacing the room, but he turned to Sean and said: “You mean you haven’t read Nietzsche?”
“No, I haven’t. Who’s that? Somebody you read about in college? And I’m supposed to be all impressed?”
Lenny pointed a finger at Sean, “He’s one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived, and you never heard of him?” He started waving his hands in the air and shouting. “You don’t know anything about the world. You don’t know who runs things, or the power they have. You’re going to change the world, and you can’t even get laid.” He started pounding his fists on the table for emphasis. “You’re so incredibly naïve.”
“And you’re psychotic.”
Lenny reached over and grabbed Sean, and they rolled onto the floor and wrestled for a few minutes. They started laughing, but Sean suddenly realized that Lenny wasn’t just playing around. He was using the wrestling as an excuse to get his hands on Sean, and Sean pushed him off.
Sure I’m a virgin, Sean thought, but I’m not desperate. He was getting nervous living with Lenny. He wasn’t sure if he could trust him any more.
Sean finally met someone at a mixer. His job, in a research lab, was at a rich private university, Johns Hopkins University, and the mixer was for its freshman students and the students of an exclusive women’s college, Goucher. Sean took a bus out to the dance, which was at the women’s school. He was anxious to meet someone by now, and he was hoping that he could overcome his shyness. When he arrived, however, he saw that people had formed into cliques, and none of the women wanted to dance or talk with him. He was about to despair, feeling out-of-place and stupid amongst these rich-kid elites, when he noticed the girl playing the records. She kept changing the music, and urging people to dance. Sean watched her ponytail bobbing as she bounced around the room. She didn’t appear to be with anyone.
He forced his legs into action, and went over to her. “I like the music you’re playing,” was all he could think to say.
“Let’s dance,” she urged, smiling. Her name was Sue Plaskowitz, and she wore a Russian peasant blouse over faded blue jeans. “Call me Plask,” she said, “Everyone does.”
Sean was fascinated. She played great rock and roll, and she danced with a fervor that exited Sean as much as her erect nipples showing through her blouse. After awhile someone else took over as DJ, so he and Plask took a break for air. They walked along the grounds and Sean tried to think of something to say. Nice moon, he thought of saying, and, I like the way it shines on your face. But he didn’t say it. Too corny, he told himself.
Plask helped him out: “Hey, have you ever seen Hair?”
“No, I never did. I wanted to, but it’s kind of hard to get away to New York just to see a play.”
“Well, you know what? I’ve got the ‘pink’ album.”
“Pink?”
“Everybody calls it the pink album. It’s the original cast recording.”
“Do you have it here?”
“No, but I have it in my room.”
“Well, let’s go listen to it.”
“Oh, no, we’re not allowed to take men to our rooms,” she whispered conspiratorially, “Why don’t we go to your place?”
Sean was surprised, more like shocked. He never would have thought to even ask her. He had, after all, come on a bus. “Sure,” he said, “But you know, I took the bus out here.”
“That’s OK, I have a car.”
Again, Sean was taken aback. She’s beautiful, sexy, and she has a car! I would have been happy if she’d just agreed to date. I hope Lenny stays out late like he usually does.
They put the record on as soon as they got to the apartment, and sat down on opposite ends of the couch.
“I like the songs,” Sean said, “They’re not the same as the one’s I’ve heard.”
“That’s because it’s the original cast, before it went on Broadway. The songs changed after that.”

Exanaplanatooch…

“I never heard this one,” Sean began.
“Shush!”

…a planet where the air is pure, the river water’s crystal bright…

“Doesn’t sound like this planet.”
“Wait, Sean.”

…total beauty, total health. No government, no police, no wars, no crime, no hate.

“Sounds nice,” Sean said, “I wish it could be true.”
“Why?”
“Well, there’s all this pollution, racism, and this damn war the government keeps throwing money and bodies away on.”
“Will you be drafted, Sean?”
“Of corpse,” Sean said, but Plask didn’t laugh. “They’ve got me down as 1-A: grade A US-prime cannon fodder.”
“Can’t you get a deferment?”
“How? I only take a couple night classes, I can’t afford to go full-time. Even if I could, I hear the government’s going to start drafting students.”
“Will you go if they draft you?” Plask looked concerned. Sean felt like he was getting somewhere, she had moved a little closer.
“No way. I don’t think the government has the right to be fighting this war, or even drafting me.”
“Couldn’t you be a conscientious objector?”
“Nah, that’s only for religious people. You’ve got to be Quaker, or something like that. Seems like most religions support the war anyway, you know, ‘God is on our side’, and all that crap.”
“Sean, what will you do?”
“God, I don’t know.” Sean moved closer to Plask. She was leaning closer, and Sean’s arm was on the couch behind her. The record finished, and the stereo clicked off. Sean put his arm around her and pulled her close, but she pulled away and sat up.
“Uh, not so fast, Sean.”
“I’ll put another record on, OK?” Sean asked.
“I have to go soon.”
“This is a record I like a lot. Surrealistic Pillow.”
“Jefferson Airplane?”
“Yeah. It’s great. I’m gonna turn the sound up.” He turned the lights way down and sat as close to Plask as he could. He put his arm around her, and leaned back. She relaxed as well, and the Airplane sang: Don’t you want Somebody to love?
“So what if they draft you?”
Sean put his head back. “Do you think I should go to Canada?”
“What choice would you have?”
“I could go to jail.”
“Why would you want to do that?”
“I wouldn’t, believe me. Did you hear about those priests?”
“Yeah. The ones that poured blood on draft files?”
“More than that. They made napalm from a recipe in a government handbook, and then they burned draft files with it. I liked that, it was real symbolic, you know, it’s the same stuff our troops are burning people with.”
“Well, it does seem like a better use for it.”

“Sure does. Anyway, I think if they could be prepared to go to jail for their beliefs, then so could I.”

“I hope they never call you to go,” Plask said, and she leaned against Sean. The album got softer and slower, as the Airplane played a love ballad.

Today, I feel like pleasing you, more than before.
Today, I know what I want to do, but I don’t know what for.
To be living for you, is all I want to do.
To be loving you, it’ll all be there when my dreams come true.

Sean brought his hand close to Plask’s face. Her hair seemed erotic between his fingers. He stroked her cheek and felt heat on his hand. Plask felt her face flush. Sean kissed her.
“Oh, hi!” Lenny said, as he flipped on the lights. He took in the scene on the couch and grinned. “Well, who’s this?” Plask pulled away and sat up as if she’d had an ice-cube down her blouse.
“This is, uh,  Susan,” Sean said, “Sue, my roommate, Lenny.”
“Nice to meet you,” Plask said, “Sean, I really have to go now.” She grabbed her album and headed for the door.
“Wait. I’ll walk down with you. Let’s go this way.” They walked down the back stairs, which was really just the fire escape. “Private entrance,” Sean said, and, “Do you have to go right away?”
“Well, no, I suppose I could stay a few minutes.” They got in her white Dodge Valiant. Sean noticed a peace symbol in her rear window. He reached over and kissed her again. This time they didn’t stop until they had to breathe. Sean pulled Plask over onto his lap.
“Why do boys always want girls to sit on them?” she asked.
“I don’t know. Doesn’t it feel good?”
“Well, it’s alright.” She put her arms around him. They kissed again, and again. Sean closed his eyes, and felt his body warming. Plask’s body felt so good against him. He felt comforted and loved, and alive. But Plask did have to go home, and they kissed one more time, and once again and said good night. Sean got out of the car and came around to the driver’s side. He said good night and kissed Plask again.
As he climbed the stairs, Sean found the answer to Plask’s question. My pants are wet. Jesus Christ! I creamed in my jeans! Lenny was waiting for him in the kitchen.
“What happened, Sean? Did I scare cutie-pie away?”
“Jesus! What did you have to turn the lights on for?”
“Did I interrupt something, Sean? I’m so sorry.”
“You know you did, and you’re not.”
“Aw, that’s too bad, Sean. Did your little girl leave you all horny? I can take care of that.”
“Fuck you, asshole.”
“Ooh, I’d like that. I like assholes, don’t you? Does your little girl like it in the ass?”
“Shut up, damn you!” Sean shouted, and went to bed. It wasn’t the last time they would fight.
Sean and Plask continued to see each other. She invited him to have Thanksgiving dinner with her family, and drove him to her parent’s suburban home.
“How come you aren’t having dinner with your parents, Sean?”
“Shit. Why would I do that? I’m glad to be out of there.”
“I don’t understand that. I’d always want to be with my family on holidays. The only reason I moved in with my grandma is because it’s closer to school.”
Sean was impressed by dinner. He’d never had champagne before, and he was surprised that everyone drank, even Plask’s younger brother. As he expected, Plask’s father asked him about his job, and his studies.
“I’m interested in chemistry. It may take a while,” he told Mr. Plaskowitz, “but I intend to go to night school until I can afford to go full-time.”
“But you do intend to get your degree?”
“Of course,” Sean said, and something about the way Plask’s dad asked questions suddenly made him aware that he was being sized up as a potential son-in-law. I haven’t even known Plask that long. I wonder what she’s said about me?”
Plask drove Sean home after a couple helpings of pumpkin pie. She told her parents that they were going to see a play. They went to Sean’s apartment, to his room. He shut the door, and put a Bob Dylan/Johnny Cash record on:

Lay lady lay, lay across my big brass bed
Stay lady stay, stay with your man awhile
You can have your cake and eat it too
Why wait any longer for the one you love
When he’s standing in front of you.

They were sitting on the bed, and it didn’t take long for them to ease down into horizontal hold. They’d never had so much time alone before, and the champagne was helping to overcome their nervousness. Sean’s hands roamed over Plask’s supple body and she pressed herself closer to him. Their lips were squeezed together, and they tickled each other’s tongues, slowly probing and searching and experimenting with sensations.
“Hi guys! What’s happening?” It was Lenny, who knew exactly what was happening, since he’d been standing outside the door, and had thrown it open, pretending nonchalance. Plask stiffened in Sean’s arms and pulled away. Again! Sean thought. Lenny stood in the doorway. “Did you guys have a nice dinner?” he asked, and he kept on talking, as if everyone were just having a friendly little chat. Plask made her excuses and left. Sean was pissed.
“Why did you do that?”
“Do what? I was just trying to be polite. Didn’t you want me to talk to your honey?”
“Look, you stay the hell out of my life. Don’t you ever come into my room like that again.”
“No. This is my place. I found it, I paid the damage deposit, and I invited you here. I’ll come into this room anytime I want, in fact, I think I’ll come in now.” Lenny reached for Sean, and tried to put his arms around him. He was feeling horny now, after having eavesdropped on Sean and Plask. Sean pushed him off and punched him. Lenny put his arm up and Sean hit him again, and again, and even as Lenny backed off into his own room, Sean hit him, and was about to hit him again when he noticed that Lenny wasn’t even trying to defend himself. Lenny’s arms were over his face. He was whimpering, mumbling something that sounded like “mommy” to Sean, so he stopped and looked down at this huge bulk of a man huddled into a corner. He pitied him, and dropped his arms, gradually unclenching his fists.
“You just stay the hell away from me,” Sean yelled back at him as he turned away. He slammed the door to his room and locked it.
“I’m going for the police,” Lenny said a few minutes later, and he slammed the front door of the apartment on his way out. Some time later he came back in. He knocked on Sean’s open door.
“Sean. Sean. Hey, I’m sorry. You’re not mad at me, are you?”
Sean decided not to answer that one, so he asked: “So where’d you go to anyway?” Lenny looked at Sean and smiled.
“Oh, I just drove around. And I met somebody. Ooh, he was so nice. I like those young boys with their long blonde hair.”
“Where’d you find him?”
“Just cruising.”
“You picked him up off the street?”
“Sure. I always do. We had a great time.”
“Where? In your car?”
“Why do you think I have such a big car? Eh, little one?”
“I thought your parents gave it to you?”
“Yeah, but they drove me down to the lot, and I got to pick out the one I liked.” Lenny turned and looked out the window, pointing out the car.
“Nice,” Sean said.  The car was big, but hideous.
“Why didn’t your parents give you one, huh? Huh?”
“Because they have six other kids and hardly enough money as it is. That’s why.”
Lenny left the window, and walked over to Sean. “You need money? I’ve got money. I’ll give you the same I gave him, more, if you want.”
Sean stared. “You paid him?”
“Of course.”
“You’re strange,” Sean said, “But to each his own, huh?”
I’m looking for another place, tomorrow, he thought.

Posted in 1970s, fiction, humor, Life, love, madness, My Life, relationships, sex, Writing | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Seduction of Rosa

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 6, 2008

Charlie played with the gun, running his hands over it’s cool blue steel. He checked to see that it was loaded, and pointed it at Rosa’s fish tanks. Quite a mess that would make, he thought. He imagined the water pouring out through the holes, like blood pouring out of a body, splashing onto the floor, slowly seeping in. He pointed the gun at the sepia-toned picture of him and Rosa dressed in period clothes from the Civil War. He looked just like a bearded Union officer with the brass buttons on the uniform and the sword held across his body. Rosa was dressed in a long dark dress with lace on the ends of the sleeves, and a wide hat provided by the photo shop. She looked so happy. happycouple.gif He put the gun barrel in his mouth. He put his finger on the trigger and slowly pulled the hammer back, but slowly released it, and brought his hand with the gun down to his lap. He emptied the gun of bullets, then put it back in his mouth and pulled the trigger – click! Click. Click-click-click! Click. He put the bullets back in. Again he put the gun to his mouth, and cocked it. It would only take a slight pressure to set it off now.
That night, three weeks ago, still played in his mind, in an endlessly repeating loop. He remembered how the evening started. He had walked into the bathroom. Rosa was standing at the sink putting on makeup.
“Mind if I take a leak?” he said.
“If you’re going to this party, aren’t you going to shower?”
“I’m planning to.”
“When?”
“Well, now, after I pee.”
“We’ll be late.”
“No we won’t, I’ll be real quick. I know how important this party is to you.” Rosa turned, then turned back to Charlie and said, “Oh, maybe we shouldn’t go.”
“What? You been wanting to go to this party all week. Now I’m all fired up and ready to party. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong,” Rosa said quietly.
“You seem upset,” Charlie said. “Do you want to stay home?”
“I’m not upset. Just hurry up so we can go.”
“Sure. Rosa?” Charlie put his arm around Rosa, and tried to kiss her.
“Not now! I just put makeup on, and you smell.” She pushed him away.
“I’ll be ready in five minutes,” Charlie said, cheerfully. He felt rejected, but didn’t want to get Rosa any more upset. He thought she was being especially difficult lately. He did his best to get ready fast, although he couldn’t understand why there was such a hurry. It was just a dumb party. There’d be drinks and dancing, but the political animals would be out to convert them. He knew that they had been trying to get Rosa into their little socialist sect, and he and Rosa had been to a lot of their meetings. Even a Party can have a party, he had decided.
BEEP-BEEP. BEEP-BEEP. Rosa was leaning on the horn of her car, her ex-husband’s MG Midget. Charlie had to run out to the car.
“What’s the hurry? I was on my way.”
“I just wish you’d get ready ahead of time.”
“I was ready. It only took me a few minutes. Why the rush?” To himself, he fumed, Hell, you spent an hour and a half getting ready.
The rest of the drive was silent. Rosa pulled up to the curb on a strange block. Charlie decided to see if Rosa was still upset, so he said, “I’ve never been here. Whose house is this?” To his relief, Rosa seemed relaxed, “It’s Carol’s,” she answered, “You remember the blonde – with the Carpenters Union?”
“Yeah, I know the one.”
Inside, they were warmly welcomed. Too much! Charlie thought. These people are too friendly to be believed. They were soon separated by smiling people, people who never seemed to stop smiling, and not incidentally trying to discuss their own “correct” analyses of current events. Rosa and Charlie got some wine. People talked to them, dividing their attention different ways. Charlie noticed Rosa being dragged into a discussion in another room. Divide and conquer, that’s their plan, he thought. Charlie started in her direction when he was intercepted by Rebecca. She was one of the group’s better people, Charlie thought, friendly, but not always pushing the party line on him.
“Hey Charlie,” she said excitedly, “people are watching Star Trek in the next room. Wanna watch?” That’s a great idea. He’d just spent ten minutes in a useless conversation with Larry, who was insisting that Charlie define himself politically. Charlie had told him that he figured he was kind of a hippie redneck, just to shut him up. That somehow made Larry mad, and he said that he didn’t know how Rosa put up with that. What’s it to him? Charlie thought. Well, Rosa can see through these people. So he joined a small group around the TV, glad to be away from Larry. He watched a bit of the show, until he heard music start up in the other room. The music had people up and dancing, and several people asked Charlie to dance, before he had a chance to look for Rosa. After he’d danced to a couple of songs she walked into the room.
“Come on, let’s dance,” he said.
“No, I don’t feel like dancing,” Rosa said, coldly.
“Don’t feel like dancing? But this is a party, the music’s great. Hey, c’mon, let’s go for it.” Charlie put his hand in hers, and gently pulled, but was shocked to find that she was not only resisting him, but stiff, and pulling away.
“Rosa, what’s wrong?” Just then there were some new arrivals at the door. Rosa turned to him, said, “Alright, let’s dance,” but it was a futile effort. She was still stiff and her movements were jerky and uncoordinated. “Rosa, are you OK?” Charlie asked.
“No.”
“Do you want to go home?”
“Yes.”
On the way home Charlie tried to find out what was wrong, but Rosa just said that she was tired, that they could talk when they got home. As they walked in their door, Charlie asked, “Do you feel like talking now?”
“No. Yes. Oh, I don’t know, let’s go to bed.” They walked into the bedroom, but Rosa sat on the bed and started crying.
“Rosa, what is it?” Charlie put his arm around her, and they sat hugging each other awhile on the edge of the bed.
“Charlie, I’ve been seeing someone else.” Charlie didn’t say anything, he just held her tighter.
“Do you know who it is?” Charlie didn’t know what to say. He was thinking, Is this the same woman who told me that we were through if I ever touched another woman?
“Uh, is it Tom?” Tom had once been their roommate. He was a good friend of Rosa’s, and they talked with each other a lot.
“Tom?” she said, opening her eyes wide. “No!” she said, in an exasperated tone. “It’s Larry.”
Charlie almost laughed. Not Larry. He’s the most obnoxious, artificial bore I ever met.
“I don’t care,” he told her, “I love you.” But she started crying again. He hugged her tighter, and she continued to cry. Charlie felt numb. He wasn’t mad. He found it hard to think. He loved Rosa, and here she was crying. He wanted to comfort her. Surely, he wondered, if she’s crying, she must still love me? They sat there for minutes – five, ten, thirty – then wordlessly undressed and got under the covers.
Charlie didn’t know what to do. He loved Rosa, and didn’t want to have to think about anything else. He kissed her, and tried to make love. Rosa didn’t resist, but she was limp, unresponsive. Charlie kissed her mouth and neck. He kissed her cheeks, her forehead, the space between her eyes, and kissed the salty space below her eyes that had so recently been flooded with tears. He wondered if he would ever be able to touch her again. He kissed her some more, moving down her body, to her shoulders, and to her breasts. He paused to run his tongue briefly around her nipples. He kissed her stomach, her thighs, and in between. Rosa put her arms around him loosely.
After a few minutes, Charlie found that he could enter her easily. But she didn’t respond to his thrusts. She was passive, and quiet. Charlie kept trying to excite her.
He turned over and put Rosa on top. Charlie was feeling less passion now, but he wanted Rosa to know how much he wanted her. He wanted to remind her of the fun they’d always had in bed. He continued to kiss her, to touch her, to fuck her. Suddenly Rosa was crying, and Charlie stopped. He pulled her flat against his chest, and then lay silently while Rosa gently sobbed. Rosa Rosa, Rosa, was all Charlie thought. He loved her; always would.
In the morning, they were still curled together. Charlie lay awake for several minutes, digesting all the events of the previous evening. He reveled in Rosa’s warm nude body softly pressed against him. She moved slightly, pressing closer to him. But he had to know. He had to see what the new day might have brought.
“How are you, Rosa?” he ventured, and instantly regretted it, for she had still been asleep. She opened her eyes slowly, looked at Charlie, and rolled quickly out of his arms, and out of the bed.
She hurried into the bathroom. Charlie waited in the bed. When Rosa stepped out of the bathroom, he held an arm out to her, beckoning her to return to his side. She began hastily dressing.
“What are you going to do?” Charlie asked.
“I have things to do. I have to go.”
“Go where?” Charlie asked, dreading the answer.
“I don’t know. Charlie, I need time to think.”
“When will you be back?” Charlie asked.
“I won’t be back, Charlie. I have, I have to go.” It was Charlie’s turn to cry. Rosa came to him, and he began to sob, tears streaming from his eyes, along his nose, into his mouth and beard. Rosa held him while his body shook and heaved, and he cried. After he calmed down, she gently released herself from his arms.
“Do you have to go?” Charlie asked. Rosa looked away. “Where are you going?” he asked again.
“Probably to my sisters house. I need time to myself, time away from both of you.” Charlie straightened up, calmed himself. Maybe it’ll be OK, he thought. “I have to go grocery shopping,” he said to her. “Do you need anything from the store?”
“No,” she said, and hurried out the door. Charlie looked out at her, watched her as she started her car, and quickly drove out of the cul-de-sac, disappearing around the fire station on the corner. He heard her car’s engine accelerate down the street. She was gone.
Charlie had found Rosa’s thirty-eight snub-nose in the closet. She’d been gone for three weeks, and she no longer said she needed time to think. Five days ago, too anxious to wait any longer for her decision, he had called her from a phone booth. She was in love with Larry. She said, “We’ll always be friends, Charlie.” Right. He didn’t know what else to say; she’d made her decision. He pounded on the glass walls of the booth, hoping to break them. In his mind the booth shattered, he cut his wrists, and ended up in the hospital. Rosa would be sorry.

All of her things were still in the house, except for a few clothes. Charlie felt more lonely than he ever had, more so than before he’d met Rosa. When he met her two years ago she’d been married, but left her husband for Charlie. Charlie had been surprised. He liked Rosa, but was just passing through. He’d been traveling across country, enjoying his freedom to go anywhere, do anything. Meeting Rosa had changed his plans. At first, Charlie had simply found Rosa attractive. When he found that she was married he’d been disappointed. But Rosa offered him room at her house for a few days. He discarded the idea of sex with Rosa when he met her tall, blue eyed husband. Hans seemed an ideal husband, affectionate, intelligent, and open-minded. Hard to compete with that, Charlie thought. Although he worked, he didn’t seem to mind his wife’s role as director of a public interest group. Nor had he insisted on a common surname. Rosa had discarded his last name for her own. Hans even cooked dinner for them all the first night Charlie slept in their living room.
Rosa was bright and witty. She’d traveled a lot while she and her husband were in the Peace Corps together. She told Charlie about her experiences in Africa and her vacations in Europe. Since Charlie had never been out of the United States, he was fascinated. Here was the kind of woman he’d been hoping to meet, but she was married, so, Oh well, he thought. But he enjoyed talking with her. They discussed feminism and socialism, and Vietnam, and racism. They got high too. She had a stash of some really primo weed. One day, she invited Charlie to join her and her husband at a party. At the party, she danced with Charlie. He found himself really liking this woman, but he knew he had to leave soon. As they talked and laughed and danced, Charlie regretted that he’d probably never see her again.
Moving from one room to another, Charlie passed Rosa, stopped, and spontaneously kissed her. Rosa liked it. She pulled Charlie into the bathroom and shut the door. Charlie was pretty nervous about that, but Rosa was on fire, it seemed, until there was a knock on the door.
“Rosa! Are you in there?” boomed through the door. Rosa turned out the light in a panic. It didn’t help. Hans had been looking for her. Charlie turned the light back on and opened the door to an enraged Hans. Hans, however, said nothing, turned and walked away. Rosa ran after him. Charlie found another place to sleep that night. He was ashamed of himself, but expected that Hans and Rosa would patch things up. All we did was kiss, he thought. We just kissed.
In the morning, however, Rosa found Charlie and woke him up. “Rosa! What happened?” Charlie asked. “Oh, it’s OK. We talked about it. Don’t worry about it.” “Are you sure, Rosa? I never thought I’d see you again.” “Do you want to see me?” she asked. “Of course!” “Let’s go for a drive.” Rosa drove back to the house they’d partied at the night before. The house would be empty all day, and her friend had given her a key. Charlie was shocked, and nervous, but he overcame his misgivings when Rosa dropped her clothes. In fact, nothing existed then but him and Rosa.
Later, although glowing from his sexual encounter with Rosa, Charlie knew he still had to leave. Rosa was married, after all, and it was time to move on. Rosa, however, had other ideas. She said that she wanted to leave her husband. She said she had been trying to leave him for some time. “Now’s the time,” she told him. “But I’m leaving tomorrow,” Charlie reminded her. “Just stay two more weeks,” Rosa asked. When she looked at him, Charlie’s resolve melted. He could do that. He could stay two weeks, just to see what might come of this.
Rosa dropped Charlie off much later that day. They were saying good-bye, kissing each other just one more time. Rosa made Charlie promise not to say anything to her husband. “I want to tell him myself,” she insisted. As they kissed, just one more time, standing by her car on the curb, an old Dodge truck drove up, tires squealing as it jerked to a stop, crookedly, in front of them. Hans jumped out. “Are you fucking my wife?” he demanded of Charlie. Charlie was speechless. On the one hand he wanted to admit his guilt, bare his sin, and take his punishment. On the other hand, Rosa had insisted that he not tell Hans anything. He took the cowardly way out. He said, “Well, I had wanted to.” It was not admitting anything one way or the other. He didn’t want to just say “no”. What will he do if Rosa tells him? Charlie wondered. Maybe this way he’ll think I only tried to seduce her.
“What the hell does that mean?” Hans roared. Charlie was trying to think of what to say next when Rosa intervened. She grabbed Hans’s hand, and led him away. Rosa talked, Hans shouted. In the end, they drove away, Hans following the little MG in the old Dodge, but not before telling Charlie, “You stay the hell away from my wife! You hear me? Stay away from her, or I’ll kill you.”
Charlie wished he had now. He’d never felt this bad before. As he toyed with the gun, tasting the steel on his tongue, he still needed something to convince him to do it himself. Hans had left Rosa. She had come to Charlie, and Charlie couldn’t leave her. He found a job. He and Rosa rented a comfortable house. He’d felt such happiness with Rosa, such peace. On a trip home from Taos one day, Charlie told Rosa that he wanted to have children with her. He hadn’t wanted to have children before he met her. Rosa had smiled, and told him that she had said the same thing to a girlfriend just days before. She wanted a baby with Charlie. She’d never wanted to have children with Hans. They planned a long life together then, with a child or two. Charlie planned to build a house for them all. It was the happiest time Charlie had ever known.
Now it was over, and Charlie didn’t care about anything. He didn’t care about politics, or changing the world, or music, or sunsets. He closed the windows against the shrill noise of the birds. Rosa had taken her cats, and her dog, and Charlie was completely alone. The dog at least would have been some company. He had no family in town, except for Rosa’s family. It was Sunday, so Rosa and Larry were there now. His only close friends were out of town.

shesgone.jpg <– (Graffiti art. Photo by Paul Armstrong)
Charlie took the gun out of his mouth again. He walked out the back door to the back wall, and fired into the field behind the house. The noise, and the burst of light jolted Charlie’s senses. He couldn’t hear anything for a moment, but he saw a car on the street a few blocks away suddenly pull over and stop. Charlie looked at the car. He looked at the gun. He removed the spent shell and tossed it over the wall. He went back inside, afraid that someone had seen him, that they thought he was shooting at them, that they would call the police.
He felt foolish. Here he was worried about the police, when he was going to kill himself anyway. Not the police. My mom, my brothers and sisters. What will they think? They’ll miss me. This is more than just me. And Rosa, what will she think? Hah! She won’t care. Well, maybe she will, for a few days, or a few weeks. Maybe she’d even cry. But that’s all. Then she’ll forget me altogether. She might even laugh at me, be glad I’m gone, out of the way. She’ll be free to live her life with Larry and never think of me again. NO! Damn it. I’m not going to make their life that easy!
He put the gun back in the closet where Rosa had kept it. He was tired, and hungry. He hadn’t slept much in the past three weeks, and hadn’t eaten for the last five days. He forced himself to drink a glass of water, one swallow at a time. He made two pieces of toast. He ate one. He went to sleep.

Posted in fiction, Life, love, madness, My Life, relationships, sex, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Coffee Trash

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 27, 2008

OK, I’ll admit that I like coffee. No, this isn’t the first line of my therapy. I just like coffee. I like it leaded or unleaded, with caffeine or without. I enjoy drinking it. I like the flavor and mix of roasted bean extract flavored with raw sugar crystals and cow juice. I have access to an espresso cart at work, and I have developed an appreciation for espresso, but a single or even a double shot doesn’t give me much to sip on. I like Americano coffees. Hot water and two shots of espresso at work jump starts my day. On Sunday mornings I amble across the street to the Flying Star. It serves great coffee – far better than Starbucks, or any fast food restaurant or gas station convenience store. I have a favorite now; I order an Americano with four shots of espresso. The funny thing about espresso is that it doesn’t have the jolt of caffeine you’d expect, nor the bitterness of brewed coffee. It actually tastes good. So, to paraphrase a song lyric: my mind begins to wonder. I walk through Flying Star’s little parking lot every Sunday morning, and what do I always see but empty take out coffee cups. Not strange, you say? pigs-ina-poke-nr1.gif People are pigs, you say? Well, amazed to discover: the discarded coffee cups are not from Flying Star! Most are from Starbucks, with their characteristic green logo, some are from 7-Eleven, and some from Circle- K. It boggles my mind. There are no other coffee shops of any kind within miles. People have to have brought these cups with them on their way to Flying Star. Now that raises a lot of questions in my trivia-obsessed brain.

Do people need a coffee with them in order to drive to Flying Star? If they like Flying Star coffee, why buy coffee elsewhere before they get there? Are people that addicted to the caffeine that they have to buy one on the road on their way to a cafe? Why drop the cups in the parking lot? If they are going in to the Flying Star Cafe, why not dispose of the empties there, or just outside the door in the highly visible trash can? Why drop these cups in the parking lot at all? It’s a mystery to me. Flying Star coffee is highly rated around town, so I can’t understand why people are drinking coffee elsewhere, and then coming to this Cafe? Why would people drop their cups in the parking lot anyway?

cigs.jpg The only thing I can come up with is that these are smokers, or former smokers, or that they have tapped into that same mentality. Smokers used to drop matches and butts everywhere, higgedly-piggedly, although I rarely see a used match anymore. Occasionally I’ll see a discarded, far more ubiquitous disposable lighter. One of the problems associated with smokers is that they simply drop their spent butts wherever they happen to be, sometimes putting them out, sometimes not. If a building policy forbids smoking inside, then piles of tobacco droppings are certain to be found spread around the door like guano. Smokers seem to have adopted the crime mentality that permeates many people’s brains; it is the mentality of the law-abiding citizen who breaks a law or moral code, and comes to accept the label of criminal. Once you’re a criminal already, then why care about anything? How else to explain the careless way smokers throw matches, cigarette butts, and cigar butts out of car windows, over their shoulder, on simply down at their feet? It is the behaviour of brain-addled addicts, to be sure, but addicts who have no sense of social responsibility. Enter our new, more socially-acceptable addiction: coffee. Along with the habit comes the old habits: toss, drop, ignore.

Cigarette butts were bad enough. Now it’s styrofoam cups littering the sidewalks, cups.jpg and all the parking lots of our schools and workplaces. It is a shameful product of minds that cannot accept responsibility for their own actions; that cannot see their actions as bad. I imagine the attitude is, “It’s not my driveway, my house, my sidewalk, so why should it matter?”

Why have we become such trashy people? Is it simply another sign of civilization in decline? The attitude used to be: “Out of sight, out of mind.” It gave us leave to dispose of things we called trash, even people, because we didn’t see it anymore. Now, we have, “Out of mind, out of sight.” If we don’t mind, it don’t matter. How long before nothing matters anymore? Sad.

Posted in Life, madness, My Life, opinion, rambling, Random Thoughts, rants, Writing | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

BLOODROCK

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 23, 2008

malpais_lava.jpg

8am. Saturday morning. Phone. Ringing.
Hi! It’s Mark I’ve got a truck
taking the lava rocks to Mt. Taylor today
wanna come?

Three years Mark collected these rocks
just a few each trip
he’d drive 70 miles to see May
she lives near Grants on Oso Ridge.

The rocks are bad luck, May Lee said
don’t mix East flow with West flow
if you do if you do
Enemy of the People may return.

In the Navajo story of creation
the Twins slew the monster –
the one who troubled the People
his blood is black hard sharp.

Landscapers create rock gardens
Mark decorated his land
delineated his agriculture
with lavaculture.

Jesús fell his friend Jesús

fell off the wagon fell down
face onto sharp rocks
blood on the rocks.

Mark remembered the tale of the flow
the respect of Navajo for myth
Mark respects tradition
guilt guilt guilty

Love on the rocks too

Could his rocks be cursed?
bad blood between him and May
“Get out” “I’m leaving”

He decided to put things right
return the rock to its home
to the dead lava lake
oh and maybe May would come?

Heavy rocks
four strong men leather gloves
wheelbarrow rented flatbed
We panted the truck canted.

We drove to Mt. Taylor
(stopped to pee and gas the truck
12 dollars twelve gallons.
or three gallons a-piss).

To the mountain whose blood we carried
unloaded our burden
tossed right, threw left, dumped back
and May helped too.

A black lake of cold liquid rock

old pools glass-smooth sharp
whirls and eddies
frozen in time by the sacred mountain.

A few hundred pounds next to the flow
prodigal shards of blood of the beast
returned to their home
wasteland of unfriendly stone.

Our mission done, we played in the snow
the sky darkened rumbled
flashes split the air
time to go.

Lunch at El Cafecito
green chile stew pie and ice cream
the sky opened water poured
drove 60 miles home

the windows leaked.

Posted in humor, Life, love, madness, poem, poetry, relationships, Uncategorized, World, Writing | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Barstool Cowgirl

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 17, 2008

cowgirl.jpg She thought she was totally cool. I found her irresistible. Her jet-black hair caught my attention, and hell, wild women always attract me. The red dress and the sensuous way she was poured into it riveted my attention on her. I introduced myself, sitting down on the empty stool to her left, and flexed the muscles under my tattoo.  Roofing work gives me muscles and a nice tan.  The booze was insidiously working its way to my brain.  I said, “Did you see the sky turn scarlet at sunset?” sunset.jpg The long slow pull she took of her whiskey put the diamond on her finger in front of my face, long enough for me to take notice. “That’s a good one,” she said with a wink, and the words poured out slowly, friendly, “Yeah, I suppose you can sit here.”
This could get ugly, I thought. That ring sent streaks of light flashing through my retinas and bouncing around my brain while she talked. She kept asking questions and watching my reactions. She bought me another pint of stout. I’d been thinking of leaving, just saying good-bye and walking away, but I couldn’t refuse. She asked me what I’d read lately, and I had to confess that all I’d read lately were the channel listings in TV Guide. I didn’t know if “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was even a book. She rattled off the titles of half a dozen books: Tuesdays With Morrie, Sex and the City, The Bone Collector, The Perfect Storm, Night Train, before I recognized Killing Floor. I don’t know why, but I didn’t even try to fake it; I admitted I had bought it, but hadn’t read it. When would I have had time to read?
She asked me what I thought about putting a road through the petroglyphs. petroglyphs.jpg Did I think the Forest Service should log 600-year-old Ponderosa Pines in New Mexico? Did I think the new Governor had deliberately exceeded his authority in signing the Indian Gaming Compact? This is the hardest bar room mating ritual I’ve ever run across. I asked her if she’d ever watched Babylon-5 on TV, and she didn’t know what that was. I tried to explain the show. “Oh,” she said, “I don’t care for science fiction; it’s too predictable.”
Frankie, the bartender and a damn good tattoo artist, put a bowl of pretzels in front of us, and Carmen excused herself to go pee. I grabbed a fistful of pretzels, and watched her walk away, totally absorbed in her walk. There was confidence in the way she carried herself. Now’s my chance to leave, I thought, popping pretzels in my mouth. red_diamond.jpg That diamond ring on her finger mortified me. I thought about jealous husbands and tall boyfriends. I thought about fists and guns, and quietly slipping out of back doors. Did I really want to do this again? I gave it all too much thought, because she was already coming back. I heard her boots clicking on the wooden floor, and turned to see her adjusting her red cowgirl hat, hat.jpg angling it slightly over one eye. She had the other eye on me. Well, what the hell, I thought, I’m a weak man. I went fishing for compliments. I asked her if she liked my tattoo. “Yeah, I like it,” she said, “It reminds me of the one my husband has on his butt.” Well, there it was, the code word, husband, for “You’re barking up the wrong tree; don’t bother me,” but she certainly seemed available. I didn’t ask about the husband – perhaps I should have. If she wasn’t going to talk about him, then why should I? I wanted to keep my cool, pretend I didn’t care about husbands. The truth was, I didn’t really care about the whole institution of marriage; there was nothing sacred about it to me. I didn’t know anyone, including my parents, who was still married.

However, I did remember the tall blond guy in the pickup, pickup.jpg demanding to know if I was fucking his wife. I remembered the trucker waiting outside the bowling alley to avenge his dishonor. And I thought about the others, the guys who never knew that their wives or girlfriends fooled around, and with more than just me.

The band played a nice high energy electric country. I two-stepped with Carmen. We drank. We danced through two sets, and I asked her if she’d like to come home with me. “No,” she said, and, “I have to go,” she said, but, “Would you like to come to a party tomorrow night?” she said, finally. I told her I did, so she wrote down the party address on the back of a deposit slip from her checkbook. I stashed that paper with two addresses in my wallet, stuck it in between two twenties I knew I wouldn’t need until the next day, and walked her to her car. “Nice car!”, I said. mg.jpg It was a little green MG, low to the ground, dual carburetors, bucket seats. I was impressed. I kissed her before she got in. She wrapped her arms around me, and sucked my lip into her mouth. After just a few minutes of stuff like that, she poured herself into the seat. “I’ll see you tomorrow night,” she said, and the engine roared. She winked at me, and peeled out of the lot.

The party was rolling by the time I got there. I was late since I’d been at the bar all afternoon. The front door was open and I strolled in. Carmen saw me right away; she must have been watching the door. “Beer’s in the fridge,” she yelled at me, from the other side of the room. I didn’t know who her husband was, or where he was, so I just waved at her, and grabbed a mickeys.jpg Mickey’s wide-mouth off the shelf from behind the Jack Daniels. Hmm, cold Jack Daniels, I wonder whose that is? I didn’t have to wonder long, because Carmen was there before I could close the door. She grabbed that bottle and took a god-awful-long swig, and then sloshed some into a glass. She never said a word to me, just planted her lips, sticky with Jack Daniels, on mine. She tickled the base of my tongue and I forgot to breathe. My lips throbbed with waves of pleasure. My mind took a vacation. She squeezed her left arm under my right, and steered me somewhere. She pulled me into a room along the hallway from the kitchen, and closed the door. She snapped my buckle open, buckle.jpg and yanked on my pants. I pulled away from her a moment to unbutton my shirt, and her dress was off – fell off of her like it was made to do that. Well, I won’t bore you with the details, but when it was over, I was higher than a Carlsbad bat at sundown. It was hard to get dressed after that, what with all the kissing each others lips and other parts, but we finally managed it, and as we kissed again, there was a knock on the door. Carmen turned the light out.

Man, oh, man, that wasn’t a good idea, I was thinking. “Carmen, are you in there?” I heard a man ask. Carmen didn’t say anything. “He knows you’re in here,” I said. She turned the light back on, and the door opened. Sure enough, it was another tall one, blond, Aryan looking, at least six-foot-three. At five-eight, I’m impressed by that. He looked at Carmen, looked at me, spun on his left heel, and walked away. Carmen went after him. I went back to the party.

I danced a snappy Reggae tune with a pretty woman whose boyfriend glowered at me the whole time, then headed back to the kitchen, looking for something to eat. I found Carmen there. “We’re leaving,” she said. “Are you going to be alright?” I asked, feeling guilty, but admiring the way her clothes caressed her body. “Oh, it’ll be OK,” she said, “We have to go home and talk,” and she hurried out of the kitchen. I found a half-eaten green-chile-chicken enchilada casserole enchilada-casserole.jpg in the fridge, and wolfed the rest of that down like I hadn’t eaten in days. Actually, I probably hadn’t. The next night, I went back to the bar. Frankie poured me a Guinness as soon as he saw me. “Well, what happened partner?” he asked, “You left all of a sudden last night. Did you shack up with that pretty little filly you were with?” “Yeah, I did,” I said. “Well, how’s come you’re here now? You can’t be tired of her already?” he asked, winking, as he wiped the bar around my glass. So I told him the whole story, and he asked what I was going to do now.

“You know, Frankie, I think I’m going to have you ink some clothes onto that Elvis tattoo.”

© 1997, 2010

Posted in cowgirl, fiction, humor, Life, madness, marriage, relationships, sex, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

IF LOVE EXPECTS FOREVER

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 16, 2008

There’s more to love than romance and lust
more to love than sharing and caring
or kissing so looong you forget to breathe.
There’s more to love than even that.

I lost a love
a special love, comforting, relaxed
sensual, full of future,
an obliteration of all failures.

I hurt How to describe the pain?
I hurt everywhere all at once
my skin muscle bone
every cell in my body hurt.

I’d lost more than a lover
more than the comfort of her flesh
more than her presence in my life her beauty her wit
I’d lost more than a mate to share sorrow and joy

I’d lost more than the children we might have had
the feel of her swollen belly
the cry of our infant
the joy of teaching, nursing, nurturing
our children our children our children

I cried at first
pounding my hands on a floor wet with tears
I played with her gun carelessly left behind.
Shot a bullet into the desert it worked well.

no not that.
I imagined her return
believing our love would bring her back.

“I couldn’t hurt him,” she told me
She had to do what was best for her.

So she went to him

she didn’t talk, about us
she didn’t want to care.

I couldn’t live I couldn’t die

I was dead.

Radio, sweet music, had lost its power
The birds just screeched flowers only smelled
I couldn’t eat I couldn’t drink I couldn’t feel
No food no water no love
Too late too late too late.

“Our love is over,” my love told me.
“Men always want to hang on.
When it’s over it’s over.” It’s over.
“We’ll still be friends really.” Really?
Once we shared ideas
Now she’s too busy his politics her politics
my ideas are wrong, my friends mistaken.

Love is more than that
more than expectations
more than pain pain goes away.
Love is learning how to survive
day-to-day
and love again
no expectations now.

Losing love showed me my soul

I never knew I had one.

© O’Maolchathaigh

Posted in Life, love, madness, My Life, poem, poetry, relationships, sex, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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