Thursday, December 24, 2009


Take off your shoes, Take off yourself
Take off your rented mental health
Take off your raincoat, settle down
Take off your nightmare and your frown
There is a place for you to go
To see another ringer in a rock show
Take my pretense for a time
Cause I want to say to you...

I will pull no punches. This Christmas is going to hurt.
To cite the obvious, things are tough all over. There's not one person I know who isn't feeling at least the slightest pinch in the wallet and their livelihoods, thanks to the economic malaise gripping the country. Many of those same people -- I won't mention names, other than to say I'm one of them -- also feel their lives have gone askew, the paths to their goals no longer as straight as they once were. Or even going in the same direction.
The holiday -- Holy Day -- season isn't the time to focus on what you don't have, of course. Or, so the optimists of the world tell us. No, this is the time to be glad for what you do have. Family. Health. A roof over your head, and bread on your table.
Sometimes, that is very hard to do.

If you're not here to hear me scream
Am I silent like a dream?
Where all the dragons are my friends
Each night we meet our bitter ends
Do I need you to make me real?
Like Wheeler spinning his own wheel
Quantum strings within my brain
Popping sanities insane
And I'm nobody... without you.

This Christmas, I am blessed with a wonderful family. Blessed doesn't begin to cover it. My parents are two of my very best friends. When I was younger, I gravitated towards my Mom; when I got older, I started to understand everything I had in common with my Dad. There are very few decisions I've made, where I haven't been able to immediately see whose outlook on life influenced me more. The three of us have seen a lot, have been through hell and back and back into hell again.
For all our failings, the strengths that have been forged in those fires are what I try to focus on every day.

Not everybody has a brain
Not everybody's going sane
Not everybody wishes well
Not everybody's heaven's hell
Sometimes there's someone to blame
A place for shame
Sometimes good's better than bad
Sometimes good's better than bad
Sometimes good's better than bad
Sometimes you're better than me

I am also blessed to have some wonderful friends -- a precious few lifelong friends who are like family, as well many as wonderful people I've gotten to know through the years... at various jobs, among the aviation community, and in my current occupation. I am incredibly lucky for all these people, the love I have been shown and have given, and the experiences we've shared.

Heaven fell on herself tonight
As the devil met me in the wishing well
And in that moment I found myself knowing
That in the end it's just about you and me
Nothing smaller or larger
Though dragons are good for the soul
Nothing can be better than baring yourself for another
Open for ridicule, scrutiny, and indulgence
Therein lies the balls, and the mind, and the heart
As fear is truly the Mindkiller
When nothing is left, everything is gained
You see... I wish I was a poet
But I know as we go round and round
Though endings are never ever happy
It's the happy moments along the way
That make it OK...

When you put it like that... the occasional bumps in the road (and even deep chasms) are worth it. Merry Christmas, everybody... and may 2010 be a damn sight better for us all, while keeping the good of 2009 in our hearts.

Lyrics from "Nobody," by John Ondrasik. You may watch the video here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Learning How To Swim

No, this is not me. 

I never learned to swim. I took lessons at the Missouri Valley, Iowa pool when I was 6 or 7, and grew just proficient enough (on a boogie board) to earn a Snap-Tite model kit of a 1979 Mazda RX-7 from my proud mother, courtesy of the local pharmacy's toy department. It was molded in color, in an odd shade of greenish-gold (not unlike the 6's "Pebble Ash Metallic" hue.) With each awkward paddle, I knew I was one step closer to that kit.

That was the extent of my formal swim training. My parents -- mostly Mom -- talked about the need for me to learn how to swim, but practical considerations always got in the way. Nineteen years later, the pool at Pacific Grove apartments in Clovis, CA offered one of the few shared happy memories for me and my soon-to-be-ex at the time, who taught me a little more about how to paddle around the pool. Near the end of it all, at least I could roughly equal the aquatic prowess of her six-year-old son. 

By that time, I was unafraid of wading into the deep end... probably because I was already so in over my head, I didn't fear drowning. 

I haven't been in a pool since; bobbing in Lake Grapevine over Labor Day 2004 -- just after moving to Dallas -- is the last time I can remember being in the water, apart from wading ankle-deep into the Pacific in Oregon, the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston and the Atlantic in St. Augustine, FL. 

I've been thinking of swimming lately... more accurately, I've been thinking of drowning. I don't think that's ominous, or even metaphorical. The feeling isn't one of fear; just of being overwhelmed. I miss writing... not for a living, though, at least not right now. 

Many have asked me about my reasons for leaving my last job; I won't expound on them here, except to say my decision wasn't nearly as personal or pointed as others have suggested (or seem hell-bent to think.) In the end, it really came down to sheer economics... and, more than a little burnout too. But that's in the past, and that's where it will stay.

I admit, though, there have been times I've missed writing. (I hesitate to call what I did "reporting" -- features aside, the nuts-and-bolts of the daily gig involved gathering news items from a number of outlets, and regurgitating key facts aimed to an aviation audience. I refer to it then and now as "news aggregation," with a dash of personal flair incorporated whenever possible.) 

When I left my former job, I reassured myself the combination of a relatively-structured, 40-hours-per-week office schedule with weekends off would allow me time to sit at my computer, and organize the many story ideas floating around in my head into words on the pixilated page. That was two months and 11 days ago... so far, nada. Hell, I haven't even posted anything meaningful on the blog I spend $4.50 a month to maintain! 

I fear I've forgotten how to "write," the way I used to. And, as a result, I feel like I'm "drowning" in ideas... good ideas I think... that I can't for the life of me put into printed prose. 

I know I'll "get it" eventually; at least I hope so. For the moment, I'll allow myself some comfort in these words, given to me by a wonderful friend and the first person I shared these concerns with. She "gets me" the way few do... and if this doesn't say it all, nothing does:

"I just got done reading your blog, and I've got to say, I LOVED it. Don't tell me you can't write comedy again. You've just got to have one of those "breaking out of the gates" moments again - and that will take one simple thing. Actually being able to write for yourself, about a subject of your choosing. It's going to take some time to retrain your brain that sitting down at a computer is a fun release... So don't be discouraged if that wit and that fast-paced writing isn't coming to you yet. Hell, you can't even walk in your door without thinking you have to check the computer! It's going to be a little while longer before you can re-train your brain to think, "Hey, that's a fun toy for which I should express myself." 

Point taken. So, for now... I think I'll try paddling towards earning that toy once again. And we'll see what happens.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Anyway, About That Dream Job...

So, what's happened in your life in the past six months? A lot has happened in mine, some things better than others but overall most all of it a positive move. Most recently, I've left the world of aviation reporting at Aero-News to return to the cubicle life, at a "desk job" here in Albuquerque. The lure of benefits and better pay proved more powerful in the end than airshows and demo flights... especially in this economy.

A side benefit of this process -- procedure? -- is that I hope to have time to do some personal writing again. For the past several months, I put what creative reserves I had into ANN... and it will be nice to do some creating for my own edification again.

More to come!