Monday, August 23, 2010

Tell me all your thoughts on God?

...'Cause I am on my way to see her.
So tell me am I very far?

"is it true?"

the intensity with which the boy asks me this question, the burning need to know, to be reassured, causes my throat to tie itself into a knot, making my eyesockets burn.

the evening was any other sunday evening. the kids need baths before they go to bed, in preparation for another week of school. as they climb into the tub, the younger one asks what has happened to all the bath toys.

"we threw them out, buddy. they were old, they were yucky. you didn't play with them anymore."

as my youngest insists that he liked them, the oldest is quiet, turned away. behind me, my wife says, "oh, buddy, what's wrong?"

and my oldest turns, his big brown eyes filled with tears. "you could've at least talked to us about it! you shouldn't've just thrown them away!"

i'm taken aback. i couldn't possibly have expected this reaction. as i get them in the tub and help them with the soap, my oldest goes on to say: "it's not just the toys, i am upset with life! i am mad at life cause we get old and then we die."

and oh, the conversations you never want to have with your children. the things you never want to hear, the things you never want to say.

i say, "oh buddy, yes that is true, everything gets old, everything dies. it's not the dying, it's all the living we do before then. we get all this time together that we should enjoy."

the tears are coursing down his cheeks now, and it is clear this is something that has been eating at him. he has been asking me about the soul recently. about heaven. and because i want him to go with his own ideas of the soul and heaven, to follow his heart, i am loath to offer too many details. "i want us to be together all the time."

"we'll all be together again in heaven, and then we will have all the time we want."

"is it true?"

suddenly, i am not sure i am one to the task of helping my son deal with his angst towards death and his insecurities as to heaven and where he goes. i feel tiny. i feel insignificant. i feel if i do too much talking, i will burst into tears and he will misread my emotions as a disbelief in what i am telling him.

but i know there is a heaven. i know we go there. i know there is a god that loves us and wants the best for us, and i have talked with him many a time. how do i know all this? well, i have just known, without any reason, ever since i was a little--

"what does your heart say? do you know there is a heaven where we will all be together again?"

he nods, still staring into my eyes with an earnestness borne of needing a confirmation that what he already feels to be true really is.

he wants to see grandpa lloyd again. he misses him still, though it has been several years. he isn't ready for grammy or nana and boppa or mom or myself to go yet. he wishes his soul would let him go to heaven for a visit, so he can see grandpa lloyd, so he can see what heaven is like. he is still crying when i put him to bed, and i am too as i reassure him that grandpa lloyd is fine and probably gets to see how we are doing. he confuses the death of my own father with the death of grandpa lloyd and inadvertently reopens a wound i thought had healed completely; a wound that i thought had ceased being a source of pain. i reassure him that we will all be together in heaven when the time comes, and that it is more important right now to enjoy the moments we have together here.

he is asleep almost as soon as his head hits the pillow.

i can't even relay the conversation back to my wife without choking up and lamely spitting out unfinished sentence fragments. in her typical sarcastic pragmatism, she asks me, "what the hell is wrong with you guys?" and causes me to laugh.

but i mull this over in my head the rest of the night. these are similar conversations i have had with myself. i was afraid to talk to anyone about my own fears and confusions towards life and death and heaven and god. and now my oldest is going through a similar phase.

and while i ultimately feel like my efforts to reassure him are lame attempts and sputtered trite answers, he has felt confident enough in our relationship to open up to me, to share his concerns. our relationship is such that he feels comfortable coming to me to discuss the greater things of life and death and the universe.

and for that, i am forever grateful.

darth sardonic

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

i've mulled this post over in my head for a few days. in the past i have been a bit reactionary; running straight here to whine like my world is falling apart because i didn't get some job or some whatever that i was really counting on, and then alluding to the ensuing inebriation.

i applied for an extension to my gi bill (it ended 1 august--ten years since i separated from the air force) under the idea that i had mitigating circumstances (i.e. the need to be home as at least one of my kids due to their special needs and appointments for seven years).

maybe it's because i had sorta already decided i wasn't getting it. i hoped i was, but some part of me knew. turns out, they only do extensions for medical reasons if i am the one with the medical situation, not a family member.

now, here's the part where i turn away from doing my usual whining and puling. i got the rejection letter, sat down, and thought about it. where has most of my gi bill gone? guitars, basses, parts for said guitars n basses, lighting for the bandroom, pipes and accessories, trips to get my tattoo worked on, and alcohol.

i was at least savvy enough to save my last two gi bill checks, and they more than cover tuition and books for this semester and next (also my last). so the really important thing, my education, is covered. furthermore, i was awarded a pell grant (it won't be much at all, but still...)

and then i thought about friends of mine who live at home, and who make the pittance they get from scholarships or the pell grant last them a whole year while they attend school. friends who have been driving the same car since they were teenagers and just limping it through. friends who haven't gone to the theater to watch a movie in years because ten bucks is just too much to drop on something not necessary.

i have said it once, o my beloved non-existent readers, and will say it again and again: i am one lucky motherfucker. my bills, they're covered. i don't have to worry about where my next meal will come from. i have everything i need, most things i want (and an unfairly amount more of the things i want than many of my friends--but my wants list is so fucking huge, o my beloveds!) and i have a support system behind me that has my back come hell or high water.

and i have spent alot of time and energy on things that are fun, that make me happy, but aren't necessary.

so it boiled down to this: no more alcohol whatsoever on the weeknights (and i didn't even do an exorbitant amount on the weekend. our friend e and i were watching "true blood" and i had a scotch, went into the kitchen to make another, waffled, and ultimately walked back out with a big bottle of water), this weekend was my last big binge on ebay. and my wife has been gone for a week (traditionally a time when i would drink more and buy more frivolous shit on ebay, or wherever else!)

this denial is an opportunity for me to exercise self-restraint, something i haven't been very good at all lately.

my tattoo might have to wait some. i don't need to drink all the time. i don't need anymore bass or guitar parts right now (i actually need to sell a bass and a guitar really).

and this is spilling over to other parts of my life as well. i haven't been as interested in porn of late. i am ok with a good book, or a movie, i don't need to be out painting the town red.

now, in all fairness, o my droogs n only friends, these are the cycles i go on. this isn't going to be a new lifestyle. but for now, and under the circumstances, i need to buckle down to saving my money and spending it wisely on the things i really need rather than the things i desire.

is that growing up? i sure hope not.

darth sardonic

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

a quick follow up...

i declare rye to be excellent. smoother than bourbon, not quite as smooth as jamesons or a canadian whiskey, but definitely sippable. and less expensive than jamesons, though slightly more expensive than a comparable bourbon. considerably less expensive than a palatable scotch, however. there you have it, o my beloved non-existents.

darth sardonic

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Friday, August 06, 2010

a story about whiskey (whisky) fueled by gin...

o my beloved non-existent readers (which is what?!? three of you?), if you have gotten to know me at all at this sharp bit of broken bottle in the sandy beach of the world wide web, you know that when i accept something as part of my life, i also like to know at least a passing intelligent bit about it. the different aspects, where they originated from, why i like the aspect i do.

it was no different when i began drinking whiskey.

i wanted to know (at least palatially (chances are good there isn't actually a word for what i am trying to say here: palatially (which i think means "palace-like" which is totally not what i am going for!) or "palatically" (which again is dredged from my own simmering brainpan) or, probably easiest: "in relation to the palate") speaking) the differences between irish whiskey and southern american whiskies and whisky (don't be fooled my beloved droogs and only friends, the long-suffering malchiks and ptitsas!--there is a subtle difference between a whiskey and a whisky--maybe m'lady macleod can back me up on this one!) so that i might venture forth with an idea of basic differences.

before i get into the story, let's reflect a moment on why i choose the bukowski/hemingway path to literary greatness in name only: most notably, because i write like shit when i am drinking. and if only you could see the typos i am fixing right now...

when i wanted to branch forth from a simple jack daniels and/or whatever whiskey was cheap and came in a plastic squeeze bottle to something a little more nuanced, i wanted to at least have a basic understanding of said nuances. the easiest way to begin to discover this on my own was to do some simple google-fueled research (and no, google doesn't pay me shit for mentioning them here or anywhere else for that matter; but they should!) and follow that up by picking up a representative "airline" (we used to call these the ninety-nine bottles, because at some point in my formative years, these little bottles cost ninety-nine cents--oh, you've come a long way baby--or some other bullshit. but continuing our story) bottle of whatever tester whiskey i was going to probe that day along with my "tried and true" whiskey bottle.

i was wanting to move from whiskey sours to perhaps a comfortable whiskey soda or even better, a sipping whiskey. so my game plan was buy something to consume with sour mix for the week along with a small shot of something to test. i would bring it all home, and crack the tiny bottle of whiskey.

i would sip it straight with nothing on my stomach and having had nothing before. i figured, if i didn't gag outright from the test, then i could completely drink it on the rocks with club soda, and if i did gag, i could toss it in a glass and bury it under sour mix and finish it off.

the tests went like this: initially, i tried bourbons. little did i know, with the exception of jack daniels (which is a tennessee whiskey and aged for smoothness through charcoal and therefore just that minute bit different than bourbons--but don't worry, i only discovered this tonight!) i had been consuming this sort of whiskey in copious amounts already.

i picked jim beam, partly due to flavor and partly due to it's relatively lesser cost. but again, i had already been pickling my liver with this particular poison for some time.

and of course, jack daniels went without saying.

then i picked up a shot of jamesons and a shot of canadian club to knock those two whiskies out of the park.

and naturally, jamesons was the very manna from heaven. or whatever. nectar of the gods? you get the picture.

canadian club was also smooth and sippable without ice or mixer. (but a funny aside, o my droogs and only friends, little did i know i had been consuming a canadian whiskey for some time in the form of crown royale. yeah. no kidding.)

then i tackled the big ones. i bought a tiny johnny walker red label and a glenfidditch (which i already wanted to like due to the triangular nature of the bottle) and eagerly brought them home. here it is, i think, o my beloveds; i am finally going to crack into what i can only assume is some sort of secret club of whisky (aha, maybe now you catch the subtle and yet significant difference?) drinkers: the scotch. yeah, my first sip of johnny walker made me think someone had filled my sinuses with lighter fluid and struck a match. into the sour mix and down it goes (and i know you puritans are losing your shit over my abuse of said scotches, but let's remember, i was but a babe...) then the glenfidditch that i had been saving till last cause i wanted to dig it so bad...

glenfidditch was the only whisk(e)y i tried that tasted as foul in the sour mix as it did straight.

well, i think, that tears it. i am not a scotch drinker.

fast forward a year (and uncountable shots of jamesons, canadian club, beam, jack, black velvet, maker's mark, and plastic squeeze bottles of cheap whiskies) to the day when the neighbor b buys a bottle of balvenie and says i have to have a glass on ice with a splash of club soda. and i don't die.

and subsequently get offered a tester shot of dewars (on sale at my local liquor store) and boldly tell the sales lady "neat" cause i figure if i can't choke it down that way, why bother? right?

and actually enjoy it!

then a week later when an older fella explains to me that these are blended scotches and don't really count, and that i really should try a single malt.

"like what?" i ask, already dreading the answer.

"like glenfidditch."

well, o beloved non-existent reader, would i be myself if i didn't run out that same day and buy another ninety-nine bottle of 12-year glenfidditch and bring it home? no. no, i would not. and actually thought, hell, i could drink this. i finished the shot bottle. without food. without prior alcohol (an aside; and those of you as drink with any seriousness whatsoever will back me up on this: there are some beverages that you cannot start the night off with. you can have several of your standard drink; of your favorite, and then follow it up with, say, jagermiester shots and be just fine. but if someone hands you a shot of jager as you walk through the door, you know you will be ill and making "the face" and trying not to die within five minutes! for me, jager shots are the "dessert" drink. i already need to be on the road to der unk to even try them.) without making "the face."

then s, my guitarist, brings over a bottle of 15-year glenfidditch one night and the two of us drunk lushes polish it off before heading to bed.

tonight, there is a special on some channel about breweries and how whisk(e)y is made. well, my beloveds, my tried and trues, o thou stalwarts and strongs, who return here week after week (or month after month though i am guessing this particular post will drive all three of you away as surely as garlic makes the vampire pick another neck), i discovered one aspect of whiskey that i have yet to explore, and will most certainly rectify as quickly as it takes for me to hit my local purveyor of imbibed spirits:


i am the sort of fella who has fallen here from some other time. though i recently updated my facebook status to "if i had actually lived in the '50's, i would've been put in an institution" (and is it ok to have paraphrased oneself? i sure hope so.) because i realize that while the '30's, '40's, '50's, and '60's have some odd kind of interstellar hold on me, i would have been ill-fitted into those eras, i also realize that forgotten items from these glamorous ages draw me in. and rye is, without question, one of these things.

while george washington himself was said to have distilled rye whiskey back in the day, prohibition pretty much demolished whatever corner of the market rye might have ever had. however, it is slowly making a comeback.

and i know that if someone says, "pick an irish whiskey right now" i would quickly reply, "jamesons, in whatever way you want to mainline it to my liver" or, "in five seconds, your favorite single malt scotch!" (hands down that 15-year glenfidditch, o my beloveds), if someone asked me about a rye, while i would've wanted to know; would've wanted to have already been sipping it at my house on my own and in the know: i have not. i don't know.

so tomorrow, when i pick up my triangular bottle of glenfidditch, i am going to do my damnedest to also pick up a bottle of rye (shouldn't be too hard, my favorite cheap bourbon, mr. beam, actually makes one) and begin test driving it. and hopefully liking it.

cause i feel i must've at least given it the ole college try. (which is also a relic from another time, not too dissimilar from myself.)

darth sardonic

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Monday, August 02, 2010

the air was a-buzz...

when my wife and i first arrived in new mexico from alaska, she was six months pregnant, and i was hanging out during the day in preparation for my soon-to-be career in stay-home parenting.

for the first month or so after we closed on our house in tularosa, i was occupied emptying boxes, finding suitable places for everything, and trolling the local used furniture shops for a few necessary bits and pieces to complete the place.

once this mission was accomplished, however, and without a regular job to keep me occupied, boredom set in, and i began to wander to and fro in the area, hitting pawn shops, antique stores, and what can only be referred to as "junk bazaars" hoping to find some super cheap bit of awesomeness, or at the very least, an inexpensive guitar or bass project.

on the way to high rolls, just before 82 began to climb steeply into the mountains, was one of these junk shops. it looked like a quonset hut erected to house two, or maybe three, small biplanes, with an extended porch-style roof protecting the larger items such as rusty rototillers and vintage schwinn bicycles from the burning afternoon sun. small american flags lined the chainlink fence, behind which were parked a litter of dusty malfunctioned vehicles and signs invited you in to peruse the large assortment of goods while others assured you that the owner was packing heat and would shoot you rather than dial 911 if you were caught shoplifting.

items for sale ranged from farm equipment to glasswares, furniture too new to be antique and too old to be worth anything, and old costume jewelry. as i worked through aisle after aisle of a mind boggling assortment, i found myself near the back of the store, where there were a few specialized rooms. upon opening one, i found rack after rack of forgotten vinyls and 8-track tapes by bands that no one would recognize anymore. in another, library-style magazine racks featuring "club" and "oui" and other skin mags dating from the late 70's and early 80's.

the last one in the row had a sliding glass door, like it had originally been a porch and had eventually been walled in.

so i slid the panel to the side with difficulty as time and settling had caused the tracks to run askew, and stepped into the porch room.

the light was dimmer, and it seemed to have affected my brain, as all my senses seemed dulled momentarily, and my skin was already running in goosebumps before i even realized anything was going on.

the next thing i thought was that i had finally completely snapped, and my new found rock bottom of insanity had manifested itself in a buzzsaw sound that was growing like an approaching chainsaw in my head. i actually reached up and ran my fingers over my scalp and through my hair as if i half-expected them to encounter the teeth of a blade eating through my skull.

then my eyes cleared and i realized where the sound was coming from. every available wall space in the 20x12 room was floor-to-ceiling with terrariums housing snakes. not just any snakes; rattlesnakes. and each and every one of the possibly 200 snakes was pissed off, and expressing itself by rattling its rattles to create a sound that i could only associate with an armageddon of angry hornets and power tools.

i turned back around and exited the room rapidly, shaking my head as if i had gotten water in my ears and could not get it out.

and i did not go back.

darth sardonic

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