My Memory

There are events that are so influential that they linger in your mind for years.  They continue to exist in your memory to such an extreme that not only is the event easily recalled, but the surroundings, the sounds, the smell and even the mood at the time of the memory can be easily summoned.  The birth of child, a marriage, a death and other personal live changing events are obvious memories that cling to your life.  These are the remembrances that build us into the beings that we are and that we hope to become. 

Curiously, other events are so powerful that, although you weren’t a direct participant, you have the same set of recollections as the personal memories.  For me, and I’m showing my age here, the Tet Offensive, the first Moon Landing, Bob Gibson mowing down the Tigers in the World Series, the shootings at Kent State, the fall of Saigon and both space shuttles explosions are pasted in my mind.  I can remember where I was when I gained awareness of each one of those events, what my parents thought and saw, the mood in the house or campus bus for the first shuttle explosion.  I can even the feel of the blanket on the couch where I watched Bob Gibson sneer his way to being a WS legend.  I easily remember my dad sitting in his brown and weathered leather chair watching the fall of Saigon on the television.  He was speechless and the glow of the TV was cast on his face.  The general feel in the house was somber and yellow.  And, frankly, as I type that, I don’t even know what it means.  But “yellow” just jumps to mind.  I guess that’s what a memory does to you.  It makes you sense colors that couldn’t possibly have been there.   

Not shockingly, the events on 9/11 is another one of those memories.  I was in Toronto with a business associate named Lew.  We had a morning meeting and then were to drive back to Cleveland.  In those days, once you got past the metric system, Canada felt like any other US state.  Same traffic patterns, same demographics, same cars, same everything.  Crossing the border was as about as meaningful as crossing into a different school district.  It meant next to nothing. 

Four other business associates were also on the road that day.  Three were in Boston, where the flights originated.  And one associate was in Manhattan at a city club on E42nd Street. 

Within an hour of the first plane hitting the towers, we were calling each other on our cell phones and were collectively trying to digest the meaning and impact of the towers being hit, and ultimately destroyed, by the attacks.  The conversations eventually became more and more personal as the day progressed.  It started to occur to all of us that we did not have a way home.  The flights from NYC and Boston to Cleveland were all cancelled and within hours the borders between the US and the rest of the world were closed.  We were all stranded away from our children, families and comfort of home. 

The three people stranded in Boston eventually secured a rental car and drove the nine hours home a few days later.  And although the three of them had little in common, they ended up with a bond that will last forever.   The guy in NYC relied on the generosity of the club and roomed in the club until he could get a car and get off the island. 

Lew and I had to spend five days in a completely deserted Toronto.  I remember papers skipping along the streets as gentle breezes pushed through the city.  We wandered the town to pass the days and nights looking for a place to hang out and catch a beer.  Our opportunities were limited.  Everything was closed.  The workers and businesses were in shutdown.  We went to the train station a few times because we knew there were people stranded there because the hotels were fully booked.  We could find food and conversation there.

Eventually, the borders opened.  But, by the time we crossed the border into the US, Lew and I had nothing to say.  We had said it all, multiple times, over the previous few days.  We had talked about family.  We had talked about the horror of what had happened.  We had talked about music.  We had talked about the hatred that could cause such an awful event.  We had talked about god.  Every topic was fair game and there was no judgment.  We were spent and so we simply crossed the border. 

I vividly remember the personal elation and relief upon entering the US and knowing that I was on US soil.  My wife, my kids, my home, everything that keeps me warm on a cold winter’s night was a mere five hours away and nothing was stopping me at this point.  I’m sure Lew felt it as well but I can’t be sure.  We never talked on the way home and haven’t discussed it since.  I’ll never forget the silence on that sunny day as we drove home and the miles melted away. 

The Human Condition on a Friday Afternoon

Some days you have to be

more than you can be

and by time the truth hits

you try to blame fate.

And the apology that you

had to give

to set yourself free

is too weak, too late.

The failure leaves

you twisting on a rope

just another lost day

up to this date.

You can play the victim

Spread the blame

But maybe the reality is

we’re just not that great. 

Why do I laugh at stuff like this?

"When science teachers are exasperatedly trying to explain the concept of genetics to idiot children, they usually bring out examples of hereditary traits. They pick simple, easy-to-spot things like hair and eye color, and of course, tongue rolling. If you can roll your tongue into a gross tube shape, it means one of your parents also has the most pointless superpower ever. If neither of them have this ability, but the mailman does, it means your mother is a filthy whore."

I saw this picture years ago and thought it was tremendous.  I recently just stumbled over it again.  It was taken during the 2012 riots at the NATO summit in Chicago (I wish I knew the photographer so that I could give proper credit but I don’t).  It wasn’t an overly violent riot (especially compared to 2011 riots in London, the 2013 riots in Sao Paulo or the recent riots in Ferguson).  But, there was plenty of fighting between the riot police, the protestors, outsiders and looters.  There was a fair amount of property damage and many arrests. 
There is a simple reason why I so enjoy this picture.  One night after a rough night of battling between the police and the protestors, this picture was taken at a Burger King near the riot zone.  Notice that it is a picture of police officers in riot gear ordering up their fast food, smiling, having a nice enjoyable time and right behind them in the line are protestors.  I guess everyone gets hungry and respects that when you’re hungry and its time to eat, you just go get in line and patiently wait your turn. 

I saw this picture years ago and thought it was tremendous.  I recently just stumbled over it again.  It was taken during the 2012 riots at the NATO summit in Chicago (I wish I knew the photographer so that I could give proper credit but I don’t).  It wasn’t an overly violent riot (especially compared to 2011 riots in London, the 2013 riots in Sao Paulo or the recent riots in Ferguson).  But, there was plenty of fighting between the riot police, the protestors, outsiders and looters.  There was a fair amount of property damage and many arrests. 

There is a simple reason why I so enjoy this picture.  One night after a rough night of battling between the police and the protestors, this picture was taken at a Burger King near the riot zone.  Notice that it is a picture of police officers in riot gear ordering up their fast food, smiling, having a nice enjoyable time and right behind them in the line are protestors.  I guess everyone gets hungry and respects that when you’re hungry and its time to eat, you just go get in line and patiently wait your turn. 

Me feeling sorry for myself…but I’m over it now.

The floorboards creak

And the walls whisper

The pictures try to speak.

I feel locked in this empty house.

The time has passed

When joy abounded

I thought it would last.

But now it’s just an empty house.

Layers of paint peel

From the walls

Babies no longer squeal.

It is simply a big, hollow empty house.

The laughter’s a memory

Lost to the past

Every minute now a century.

Waiting for death in this cold, empty house.

The weight bears down

And crushes my shoulders.

No more smiles, only frowns

Are left in this meaningless empty house. 

travelblogdj:

More street art in Bloomington, Indiana.

World’s greatest office…

World’s greatest office…

Some Old & Some New

My head is spinning

And the world won’t stop

Right now I’m standing

But I’m about to drop.

So, please speak to me

As the equal that I am

And stop treating me

Like a harmless little lamb.

Try to fix yourself

And let me be

Because the problems that you have

Are within you and not with me.

If this seems unfair to ask

Or you think I’m out of line

Then any offer that you make

I’ll respectfully decline.

Because it is time for me to go

You’re certainly no fun

And I’ll let my injuries scar

From the damage that you’ve done. 

* old poem from the mid 80s?  I was angry with some authority figures at the time and felt as if they were holding me down and beating me with mental torture (strong words but I was clueless). 

However, the next poem posted…is a new one.  I wrote it over the weekend after having too many shandys.

Super Power

It was a compelling story

Deserving to be penned.

There appeared there was no beginning

And certainly there was no end. 

We tried to get the meaning

It was destined to be a classic

But we died of total boredom

Because we simply weren’t fantastic.

The greatness that we felt

Was left hollow and not completed

The future we envisioned was

Flat, grey, blurred and quite defeated.

So, we stumbled down our path

As our anger came to blows

And our Eden became a wasteland

Because this final story we couldn’t close.