Tag Archives: society

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

I’ve tried to quit smoking. I really have. There have been several times I’ve torn up a mostly-full pack and thrown away the lighter. Other times I’ve woken up with pain in my ribs, vowing never to light up again. Yet, here I sit this morning after being outside with another menthol.

It’s hard, at times, to accept the root causes for me to do something so dangerous. Other times, I just don’t care. Why am I “saving” myself? After decades of bad timing or poor fits that I’ll find someone I can share this pent-up love? I’ll be wealthy enough to travel the world and not give a flip about paying the bills? I can go anywhere and feel like a friend? As society sits right now, I doubt it. I’m being trampled by other people’s ambition and their human nature.  A nature of all the vices and judgment they swear not to do, yet commit all the same. They call them “rights”.

Smoking is my seppuku. I’ve dishonored my master, America, and not bought into the aggressiveness that wins her favor. It’s a savage thought that is considered “healthy” by her. It’s a ruthlessness that she smiles upon. “Grab her! Take her! She doesn’t understand anything else!” Lady Liberty chides with rusted teeth. “You are animal! She is animal! She demands assertion!” …and so she rewards.

Reserved in nature. Virtuous in spirit. Prudence in money. Controlled in temper. These are all Holy wafers that burn upon the skull of the red, white, and blue madam. They are all treated in suspect and shied away as a Nosferatu would garlic.

I would like to remain positive. I would like to give the people of this world a false sense of hope, as movies and books do. It makes them feel less guilty, less culpable, and they can go back to their business as usual. However, I’m not sure that can happen. Bad things happen to good people.

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Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Once again, I circle the blackened sky like a bat. I get myself so worked up in the morning and early afternoon that by evening I fall asleep only to wake up at midnight or so. It’s not so bad, I guess. It’s the not the rhythm of diurnal beings such as typical humans, but at least a late-night drive is filled with light scents of flowers and burnt wood.

Last night I was having a tonic and reading at Fricker’s. It’s just a sports bar, but it has a patio. That part I like very much. However, I happened to be visited by my friend, and master potter, Eliseo. We always have a good conversation, and I appreciate him being in such a simple area.

We talked about many things, mostly art related, but last night’s discussion dabbled in Kokology. This is the study of  心, or in English terms kokoro (“mind” or “spirit”). Its a way of discussing a person’s personality, and how they see the world. This was done in a basic three-part question and answer session called “the Cube test.” The narrator asks the following questions and interprets an understanding of the person answering them:

1. You are alone in a desert. There is a cube near you. What does it look like?

2. There is also a ladder around. What does it look like?

3. There is also a horse around. What does it look like?

Instead of giving away the answers (mine or what the metaphors mean) I’d like to try something. If you would indulge me, please write down the answer to these questions in the comments section of this entry. I’ll put trust in you to not look anything up on the Internet, rather tell me the images that come to your mind first.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

For most of Saturday, I was tapping away my thoughts about the digital age and the democratization of fine arts. I find it a very engaging topic, and wish to give it further study before I submit it to my blog. After a last-minute night of empty bars, I come home to a laptop and my thoughts… a dangerous situation indeed.

In a fit of tittering schoolboy, tabloid-esque humour, I decided to peruse the love advice columnist for the “perpetually single man.” Why would I do such a odd thing? That is me, you see, and with the aid of a finely etched, leaded crystal tumbler of Maker’s Mark I digest the salient point noted in more than one article:

Never-married men are questionable.

How lovely! It’s nice to have confirmation. At least you people aren’t telling me it’s all in my head, which is the gaslight programme of my foul, contemptible existence upon this absurd crust of rock. Thank you for being honest! It means the world to me.

It’s bad enough to deal with that “man of a certain age” poppycock, but to be faced with such acute judgment is just the thing I need to dismiss the human race in total. Out of my house! Out of my house! You confused my punch bowl for a bidet, and now it tastes like society. For shame. How many times have I wiped those cheeks without complaint?! Several, I tell you and I even used two-ply.

As I sit here in my home office, I’m left to contemplate my life and its owner-given meaning. What doesn’t sound so ridiculously unattainable right now? So, nothing. Not potential but rubbish thoughts for a rubbish life. Jessica, Shylock should dance to know my worth and your eyes.

With that in mind, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Nate the Skate and his Butcher’s Block Orchestra’s anthem: Giuseppe Verdi’s “Anvil Chorus” from Il Trovatore

 

Chi del gitano i giorni abbella?

I ASK YOU!

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City in the Fields

There was a flash fiction challenge yesterday from Opinionated Man of which I had not participated. I had already posted yesterday’s flash, which was for another Reddit contest (did not win/no honorable mention). That’s not to say I’m upset about it. I didn’t want to leave people on here hanging.  The WordPress challenge seemed a little more like a Saturday write anyway. If people have read my blog for any length of time, they know I’ve spoke about my town slightly in my stories. In 1,000 words or less, I shall condense that.

——————-

Urbanites often clamor for the countryside, a respite from the “noise” and “pollution” of a metropolitan backdrop. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence especially if it’s compared to concrete. Plenty of green dots the landscape of my city, even if it’s mold. Perhaps the agricultural nature of the outer limits appeal, waving arms of wheat and corn in a Summer’s gust? The ears certainly make for better conversation anyway.

Crumbling corners and mended roads, all drizzled in chocolaty-tar sauce like a sundae stretch for miles under questionable skies. Built once with pride, brick buildings burn from apathy’s children leaving only work for the crewmen to raze. Holes, like pulled teeth, pit a once wealthy dirt. An asphalt crown is the new order of business.

Hulking and oppressive, the courthouse stands idle with all of its faded glory. Since when had you last felt alive? Bluebottle cars fly around your rotten carcass of petty justice. Your delusions of grandeur are transparent! Your mightiness is moot!

…and the floods. O, the floods! Have you come to visit us with fervor of Zelus? Have your waters ran through our hair enough? Can you not stand the sight of our houses as much as I? There would be no blame in that. Bring it to us so that we may bathe in a pool of our mistakes.

Time has come and time has passed, leaving nothing but old values as new ideas spread across a nation. Angry and afraid, a retirement community is proclaimed. Leave it as it once was, so we remember it fondly. A sepulcher for the nostalgic. There is no need to share; it is ours!

A generation took that to heart, and a generation made a new start off on coasts and in between. “They will be back!” Was the mantra of the day which fizzled to a murmur on the lips of the selfish. The world is not as it once was. Haughtiness becomes highlighted in hindsight.

Ghosts of people past still haunt the streets in which I ride. Past the schools. Past the homes. Past the shops I’ve seen too many times to remember. Pictures on the gelatin of my eyes. Translucent and faded they post bills of their likeness where I’ve been before. Up on the hill, down by the river, out by the freeway, or around the corner, I cannot live them down. The city will not let me live them down.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Thursday, March 27th, 2014

As stated in my last post, I have purchased a new set of work boots in hopes the quality will last me a few years. These Red Wing shoes were styled after those used for working in the mines of the Mesabi Iron Range in Minnesota. Does that mean much to a guy in Ohio? No, not really. I liked the design. Had the Farmer’s boot come without white soles, I would have bought those. Go figure.

It seems the Mesabi Range has had a bit of a troubled past. It’s the largest iron ore deposit in the world, yet mostly filled with taconite. This is the lesser quality ore that only rose to prominence because the better ore (hematite) was exhausted. Even at that, the demand for ore had declined in the mid-20th century. It seems Chinese buyers have taken a recent interest in the mineral, but the region should know by now not to hang their hopes upon one hook in the closet.

Many miners were laid off in the mid to late 1900s. They stewed in unemployed and drank like a fish. I know those feels. Regional native Bob Dylan mentioned the problem in “North Country Blues” off of The Times They Are A-Changin’ album.

So the mining gates locked and the red iron rotted

And the room smelled heavy from drinking

When the sad, silent song made the hour twice as long

As I waited for the sun to go sinking

If it wasn’t the lack of job opportunities, it was the conduct of the miners that gave the area headaches. Generally speaking, Lois E. Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co. was a class-action lawsuit against EVTAC (a mining company) for not preventing the sexual harassment of sixteen female employees. The case bounced around the court system in the 80s and 90s until it was settled for $3.5 million. Flat out, it’s not surprising. Know-it-all government officials and disingenuous human resource departments will throw out the “training” card as a solution. Mea culpas and whatnot.

Coming from a guy that has been in a blue-collar environment before, guys who do that know what they’re doing. There is no ignorance that would be miraculously erased through a training video. No. They know their life’s at the bottom of the societal totem pole. Throwing them in jail or fining them money they don’t have isn’t going to frighten them.

Power is a very dangerous concept. I’m willing to liken it to precious metals or stones. There are many people out there who would do very underhanded things for power as they would wealth. For the American stooge, pushing around a woman is a cheap attempt to fill that emptiness inside, that lack of importance.

On the other hand, I’ve seen workplace seduction that ended up in a lasting marriage. This world is mad.

 

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By A Hair

“We were supposed to be past this!” Jonathan Quinn battered his statement across the servant’s face, wrought iron gate, and brick wall that outlined the Lieutenant Governor’s mansion. “How are we supposed to have a better life if we can’t even be a community?! Ya can’t do this simply because we’re Gingers!”

Unapologetic, the butler restated his comment which provoked the outburst. “I’m dreadfully sorry, my good man, but the council has once again denied a hearing. They further state city ordinances are in clear compliance with the regulations set forth in the National Contract. We simply cannot hold a gala in any venue within Harpshire for the Red Class.” A snuff followed the cold delivery of news, which made the oily, inky black hair of the butler’s head shift to the front. The man had finally gotten a whiff of a paver’s world. His only recourse was to slam the gate shut and retreat from the foulness of grunt work.

Roiled, Jonathan twisted his wiry head to the house. “Ya can’t stop us from dancin’. Ya hear me, Madam Guv’ner! Ya can’t arrest us all! We have the right to live just as much as any of ya towheads! Ya can keep us out of your city, but ya can’t keep us from our happiness!” Growing hoarse from shouting, Jon took a look back at his sons who came along after work for moral support. “Boys, let’s go home,” he sighed with disappointment heavy on his brow. The cap with which he held in his calloused hands was wrung in fierce anxiety. The freckles on the back of his paws twitched in excitement as he thought of the deeds he’d do if he were to ever set his hands upon a member of the Flaxen Class.

The Flaxen Class, it was even unconventionally named in the National Contract! It couldn’t have been “Yellow,” or “Gold,” or “Blonde.” No! It had to be “Flaxen” to set themselves a great distance apart from the rest of society. A wedge throughout the land was made when that wretched document was signed. None of this could be changed at the moment, though, and evening was fast approaching. The long walk to Ruster’s Point had to commence quickly.

High above the three-story mansion, a pale face observed the entire exchange. Lacy Alderwell’s keen hazel eyes scrutinized the commotion below for lip reading. Judging from the reaction of the Red Class’s councilman, he had been denied event permits for the third time. He was a Ginger, and there was no guile needed in applying “influence” upon their caste. They had to do what they were told, much like the Black Class, yet they were on the manufacturing side of the economic equation.

As she watched the sullen procession head away from the building, she caught the likeness of a young man staring back at her. Lanky, yet fresh and spirited, Connor Quinn’s face locked upon the figure Lacy made in the window. Bright blue button eyes could still be seen through the veil of dusk setting upon Harpshire, while his fiery bangs danced upon his head with fight.

Lacy shrank from the leaded glass startled. What raw emotion the boy had! She could feel his anger, though yards away, and was rendered speechless from the encounter. She had never considered herself a “root lover,” but she could not deny the presence of some inexplicable attraction held in that moment. She looked again, but he had started off with the rest by that time.

In a moment of spontaneity, Lacy decided to seek her parents. Attempts to appeal for a lower social class were absurd for many at the top, but she was to be groomed for her mother’s position when the time came. This could simply be a lesson on refining her skills of parlay. As so often it happens, the Lieutenant Governor wasn’t at home, but she easily came by her father. The city judge was a caricature of comfortable living. An ample wallet and ample chin left for a sense of self-satisfaction.

A little too lacking in political tact, she approach the topic head on. “Dad, why won’t anyone let the Gingers hold a social event in the city? They’re human are they not? We have them all the time, and no one thinks a thing of it. This does not make sense.”

“Why, it’s simple my dear,” began the Judge who obviously had the decision set in stone. “If we were to allow them permission to host a ‘social event’ in Harpshire, they’d burn the place down. They’re like children, you see. We’d have to supervise them, and our jail cells would be filled by morning. It’s just common sense.”

“Where would you be without gatherings like this, father? As I seem to recall you met mother at one. You both seem happy together. Is it correct to deny others that same right? To be happy?” Lacy laid her conviction on a little too strong, which instantly sent the judge in a rage.

“Yes! A thousand times, yes! I will not have a group of mongrels tear up my city on the mere chance they could meet and make more! I do not care about their happiness! They will not make us all miserable because of it!” With that the portly gentleman stood up from his chair and headed toward the dining room. After a pause, he softened and turned to Lacy.

“Let them have their ball in their Ginger-bred houses!” The jape gave way to fits of laughter. So violent were his giggles and jerks from his new-found cleverness, he clutched the railing tightly as he went downstairs for he feared tumbling down a flight in carelessness.

Walking about snowdrifts in the dead of Winter seemed a lesser task compared the days spent thinking about Connor. Often Lucy would sit in her bedroom staring out at the trees, and wondering why she felt this way. Many meals were passed up for the chance to be alone. It wasn’t until the maid, Angelina, came to her door to determine if young Lucy needed the care of a physician.

“Lucy! I have breakfast for you. You haven’t eaten in too long. What’s the matter with you girl? Are you sick?” A clink of the service tray added to the suggestion that she eat something.

“No.” The long drawn out denial brought Angelina closer to the bed.

“You’re still hung up over the Gingers are you? Why in the world would you do such a thing like that? They’re holding a makeshift gathering in a barn near Ruster’s Point. They’ll be fine. Besides, you haven’t any reason to pay attention to those hoodlums! Why…”

“STOP! STOP IT I SAY! DAMN YOU AND YOUR THOUGHTS!” Lacy was prone to passionate talk, but this was out of character even for her. “You don’t know anything about them, do you? You say those things because you’re not one of them! What if you’re wrong? What if they are better people than you even? Why they could be the most beautiful people anywhere and you won’t know it!”

Angelina took a step back at this reproach. She often considered herself a motherly figure, as Madame Governor was often elsewhere. The scalding tongue took her back to a place she had not been in a long time. Intuitive and sharp, her eyes narrowed at the set upon Lacy.

“You’re in love. Aren’t you, Miss Lacy? You’re in love with a Ginger boy! Oh me, it’s true! This is dreadful news! I’d never thought I’d see the day. A daughter of the Governor a root-lover!” Her legs almost gave out on her and she took a chair close to the service tray. Frantic, Lacy rushed to her side and knelt at her feet. Burying her head and hands into the old maid, she began to sob.

“Oh, Angelina,” she choked, “I can’t stop thinking about him. He’s haunting me and my thoughts! Why can’t I get him out of my head, Angela?! I must see him! I must find out what it was I saw in him that afternoon.”

A world-wizened woman Angelina was. Age painted streaks of grey in her raven hair resembling that of a river, the river that time carved into her existence. The story whimpered though Lacy’s tears was highly obscene, yet rang as true as a clock chime. There once was a time in her life where she was that folded mess before her. It may have not been cross-caste like this, but very similar nonetheless. She once cared deeply for a man long ago. He captivated the very life, and she could not think of anything else. As history would have it, it was never meant to be. The love of her life was inevitably beaten to death by his Flaxen master because the eggs were cold, one crisp Autumn morning. She would do anything to spend one more moment with that man. Anything. Lacy would obviously do the same.

“My child,” Angelina spoke after clearing her throat, “if I do a favor for you, you must promise me never to tell you parents. I could very well lose my life over it.”

“Yes! Oh, yes, Angela. You’ve known me to be an honest girl. I’d never betray you. I swear.” Her eyes looked up to the maid with red-rimmed hope.

“We’re going to make you a Ginger for the ball. There are some dying chemicals in the utility wing of the house, and an old friend of mine could see to it you have the work clothes from their laundromat. You need to understand what you’re about to commit. This is treachery, my dear. Many people could get hurt over this, if you were found out.” The seriousness of her plan stared at Lacy like a black cat.

“I… I’ll do it. I want to see him. I need to see him. I need to know if I’m right about this. I can’t go through life without knowing.”

…and so they set to work. A call was sent out to the supervisor at the Ruster’s Point community laundromat, who agreed to “misplace” an order of clothing. It would be stowed in the cook of mansion’s purchases for the week. The red dye from the fabric center took to Lacy’s hair beautifully. Being that most of the community would be at the council meeting that night, she was left with a little breathing room being a Ginger in the mansion of a Lieutenant Governor. Quietly she moved just after dark. Ruster’s Point was set apart from Harpshire by a wooded area. She advanced quickly on the barn, as the event could be heard for miles. Emerging from the thicket she quickly melted into the crowd. She had never seen so many red-headed people in one place! The workers we up to all sorts of activities: dancing, drinking, storytelling, playing music, gambling. and maybe even more private affairs upstairs in the hay loft. Such means didn’t afford much, but they certainly bought euphoria that night. Madame Governor could not crush the will of the Red Class!

Poking in and out of stalls, Lacy had a terrible feeling she was being watched. Observed. Studied as one would document a science experiment. She had to push past her paranoia and seek the boy she saw days ago. She would never forget his face, and there was no face like that here! She felt her chest tighten as she considered her stunt may have been all for nothing. As she sat, she watched the Gingers interact with each other. There was laughter. A sea of sound came from all corners of the place. They were happy. These people didn’t remotely resemble the beasts painted by the Flax class. Not in the slightest. She may have been so bold as to say this was a better ball than the black-tie gatherings held by her parents.

It wasn’t until she took notice of a dice game that she spied the bright blue eyes of Connor Quinn. Without another second she was upon him laying a hand on the shoulder of the boy who was her phantom-made-flesh. Caught off guard, he shot straight up. After catching his breath Lacy smiled slightly at him. “Pardon me, miss!” He wasn’t expecting to see much of the womenfolk that night.

“I caught you from across the way. Would you care to dance with me… ?” Lacy tilted her head and moved her ear forward in a backwards attempt at an introduction.

“Uh, Connor. Connor Quinn. Uh, yes! Yes, miss…” Reciprocity has its charm.

“Lacy.”

“Well, lead the way Miss Lacy. Lads, I’m out for now.” Connor wasn’t completely convinced this was even happening.

The band prepared for their next song. Slowly and carefully, the fiddler set his jaw on his instrument and was off in a flash. The tempo hit fast and hard with no sign of slowing down. Couples all about the dance floor bounced and swung in tempo of the music, but no one was keeping score on form. That was for a Flaxen event.

The energetic movements of the newly met team swirled with the spirit of youth. They were connected at last and in unison. The rush of twirling finally wore off and Connor spoke first.

“I’ve never seen you before. Where are you from?” It was a legitimate question. Everyone knew everyone else in Ruster’s Point.

“I’m from out-of-town. I’m visiting the area in hopes for find what I’m looking for.” She said with her mouth pushed into a huge smile.

“What’s that? What are you looking for?” Connor wasn’t good with code. He never had to used double-speak before.

“A feeling.” She wasn’t going to tip her hand so soon.

Puzzled, Connor, began to search her eyes for clues. His father always said that the eyes were the window to the soul, but he never told the boy what he’d find. In doing so, Connor realized he had limited function over his body. This state of semi-paralysis frightened him. He was not able to command himself in the way he always could. It was new; it was terrifying. It was only then was he introduced to Lacy’s influence. It wasn’t mistake. Her intuition had found something on the street that evening a few days ago. She took him by his collar and kissed him. There was no penalty of law that would dissuade her from recreating that moment again.

As if on cue, the local constabulary hollered at the mouth of the barn. “Hold up! HOLD UP! We have reason to believe there is an imposter among us.” The news sent waves of chatter throughout the building. “Calm down. Calm down folks. Harpshire’s sheriff has told me that we wouldn’t have any trouble if we brought back the suspect ourselves. She’s 5′ 5″ and has dyed her hair to look like us.” The band put up a horse laugh with the retort, “why the Hell would she do that? Is she paying penance for murder?” The house shook at the jest, which wasn’t taken very kindly to the police captain. “Dammit, Bill,” he barked, “this is a Flaxen Class refugee. If they don’t have her back, they will tear every last board off our town looking for her!” The joke was over, and the Gingers could only murmur as to the danger of the situation.

Panic took over Lacy as she started to take flight only to realize her grip on Connor was so strong it made her come to a dead stop.

“What are you doing?” He was still trying to comprehend the situation as she was scurrying away.

“We have to go. Now!” Lacy nearly ripped his arm out of his socket as she dug the heels of her work boots into the mud.

The police captain caught on to the commotion in the back. That was the girl. He knew it. No one else would dare think they were Flaxen class, and feel right about it. “That’s her! Over there!” He raised his baton and pointed squarely at the two making for the back gate. The barn became a free-for-all as the screams and shout bounced from person to person. The whole town needed to purge itself of the foreigner.

Pumping her left arm, Lacy held tightly to Connor’s hand. “Where are you taking me? They’re after you. Not me. You are who they’re looking for, aren’t you?” He stopped at attention, breaking the link between them.

Cupping her knees, Lacy finally came to grips with the situation. “Yes,” she said panting, “after I saw you in the street with your father looking for an event permit. I needed to meet you. I couldn’t explain much of it at the time, but I knew I needed to see you. There was something there that I needed to find out for myself. I felt a connection, and I couldn’t live my whole life without knowing if I was right.”

“Well?” Connor started to get upset at the stunt, “you risked the lives of my family and townsfolk to do it. Were you right or was this all for nothing? How did your little experiment turn out?” Locking up his body, he clenched his jaw. What kind of game was this? What a reckless stunt to pull under the circumstances. This was insane!

A hurtful pang wrapped around Lacy’s stomach which made her grit her teeth. “What?” she uttered under her breath. “You tell me, Connor. Tell me you didn’t find anything back there that you couldn’t explain. You tell me you could let me go so easily. Did you find someone in me that allowed you to come this far? Tell me!” Her fists balled up in frustration at the interrogation. With little provocation she launched her fist into his shoulder and pushed him back a foot.

With quiet contemplation Connor stared once again at her face. He couldn’t find any words to articulate what transpired that evening. His breath slowed and he began to speak, but the only word that came out was “yes” softly and quietly. Brevity is the soul of wit, but the tongue of love. Their tête-à-tête soon broke with the shouts of the pursuers.

Connor looked in the distance, then back to Lacy. He only had one more word to give: “go”. She could not stay any longer. Their paths had to diverge again. All she could do was nod when she made a skip backward and took off for the forest. A new phantom was born, and Connor watched as the slight figure disappear among the branches and twigs. This would be unbelievable, if it had not happened to him. He sat down to relive the minutes that recently passed him as quickly as they came. Why did it have to happen like this? Many a man would kill to meet their match. Love isn’t always kind. Love isn’t always convenient either.

Not long after, Jonathan and the police caught up to Connor. He was alone. Still as the night air with no sign of the Flaxen charlatan.

“Where’s the girl, boy? She’s in a heap of trouble.” The anger in his voice came from a place of deep-seated fear.

“I broke loose and she kept running.”

“What did she want with you?” The question had to come up sooner or later.

The moments that passed between Connor and his father sharpened the anxiety of the people behind them. “I don’t know, father.”

“Where did she go?”

Connor pointed his thumb towards a corn field  off to his left and simply said, “that way.”

The posse rallied around councilman Quinn and tore off in that direction. Maybe they knew he was lying? It didn’t matter at that point. All he could think about was giving Lacy a few more minutes on the run, and more importantly, in his head.

Lacy crumpled her porcelain body upon a park bench well outside of Ruster’s Point. It wouldn’t take long before word reached the Lieutenant Governor’s mansion, which would lead to nothing fortunate. “Home” as she knew it stretch out around her. She then thought of Connor and his face looking at her while they were together. That was supposed to be the solution to her problems, but she hurt more now than ever. How could being right hurt so much? After a moment of nursing a sore mental state, a fire flickered inside her. A red fire, pushing her off her perch. It wasn’t going to die here. No, not after that. She needed to see him again!

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Friday, March 14th, 2014

These past few days have been very reflective, and not much has been said on here. I know I excitedly discussed the options I had over the last weekend, but Sunday brought a certain withdrawal of such claims. There is a lot to be said about The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, and I’m not entirely sure it could be done justice with a blog post. To say that Americans are in a better position financially now than 100 years ago is truthful. A person of my station at that time would not be able to afford a house or possessions without the use of graft or other crime. On the flip side of the coin, there has been a deep sacrifice in family to procure such things today. Sacrifice. Something tossed about these days, as if it were a foreign war. As it stands right now, I am staring down the barrel of acquiring a second job. It’s nothing new for a guy like me, as I have been there before, but it does make me wonder if others aren’t fully recognizing the damage done to this country. This is the point in my life that I fully understand the honest man isn’t the common man. The honest man is the uncommon man, which is only paid lip service by those who “know better.”

Naïve? Yes. I will not argue the naïveté of such. What should it matter, at this point, to anyone anyway? Being frank is a part of who I am. Should anyone hold it against me that I try to make it work? It was that hope which made this all naïve.

There are brighter notes to this, and I’m willing to move on to them. Tuesday night brought me an acquaintance for a chat. He learnt I wrote, and was very enthusiastic about the idea. He’s a potter, painter, and teacher. In the middle of discussing motivation and inspiration, he recommended the documentary PressPausePlay. Having a deep respect for Eliseo, I watched it the following afternoon piecemeal between projects. They key for this particular movie is to take it all in without expressing an opinion until afterward. It touches on many aspects of what the artist has to grapple today.

My take had multiple thoughts, but initially there was only one. It takes time for me to sit and think for the rest to come to light. Regardless, I wrote a note to myself which eventually found its way to my home office wall. It reads:

Nate,

You cannot spend your life worrying about the ends. The only true end is death. It’s the process of making [creating] that means more than death.”

I found something personally useful this week,  and with a bit of spirit, I won’t forget it.

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Saturday March 8th, 2014

Today I have a couple of things to say for a change! There is reason enough to believe I should break them out into separate posts, as they’re different topics. What fortune! I think I’m more excited about that fact than I am the actual material but what happens next is still a bright spot on the grey-matter-gone-black that is my mental faculties. There may have been a spider or two that scurried away as I cracked open that cellar door.

Last night was shaping up to be a real Emo-city, cut-and-not-so-dry, window-gazer of an evening. All dressed up in suit and tie from a seminar I attended that day, I went to eat dinner out. The hurried, mechanical pace of American restaurants and a waitress too young to flirt with didn’t satisfy what I craved. Fortunately I keep a book at my side, being that dining alone is a way of life here. I thumbed the pages of The Jungle before setting out for a different venue. Ho-hum. That’s not in reference to the book, just the atmosphere.

Next stop was a swankier bar downtown. I’m not entirely sure why I went there. Maybe it’s because the women dress better? With better dress though can come attitudes, especially with the clientele being employees of a large corporate headquarters a few blocks away. Just as a side note, it doesn’t take much money to gain a sense of superiority in the Fields. A yearly salary of $70,000 could cultivate a behavior similar to that seen on “The Real Housewives of…” It’s slightly amusing, as I have been to much more wealthy locations in this country, but mostly tragic… and annoying. Most annoying was the woman so drunk she was laughing like Salacious B. Crumb and loudly.

Scratching cold starts in my journal, I could only stare out the window in efforts to find some sort of inspiration. A video comment by Ira Glass found on Jodie Llewellyn’s blog was running through my mind at the time, and I felt I needed a running start to have the spirit move me. I ended up walking out with little to show for it. The gloom of a failed evening was starting to follow me. So, I did the best I could: change cities.

Driving about 20 minutes north reveals a small college town with a better tone throughout, in my opinion. I set up camp at a sports bar near the highway just to sit and read. Those are what I’ve decided to be the staples in my life right now: reading and writing. Most of the time there was being conscious of a presence sitting next to me. Cocksure and country alpha, I could feel a pissy nature emit from the turned back of a patron. Was he jealous that I was reading, or just a jerk? Later in the evening he was joined by another and his dialog only assured me of the latter. Foul with crass etiquette (i.e. spitting), his  conversation covered a gamut of gems ranging from aggression to sour grapes.

Not quite ready to give up the ship, I stopped by a bar I usually visit for some tonic and whatever else I could squeeze out of Upton Sinclair. I don’t like the idea of being so frequent to an establishment that I either lose interest or wear out my welcome. Last night was not one to mull over that fine point. It turned out to be a great decision, as a girl broke my concentration with an inquiry of the reading material. After a well-received joke, I went back to reading as her significant other body-blocked our field of view. He was definitely jealous of our rapport, and I relished it like a villain.

Stepping outside for another broken promise, I had the pleasure of meeting two gentlemen from the local university. Both were philosophy majors with a interest in books. Naturally they opened up with my selection for the evening and we had a delightful conversation that ran almost an hour in the freezing cold. Steinbeck, Hemingway, Sinclair, Dick, Asimov, Kerouac, Bradbury, Heinlein, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald were all under the same roof. I could not have been happier even if I wasn’t a fan of some of the authors. The spectre of depression had been banished to the void for at least a night. Happily, I drove home content for a change.

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Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

I happened to find this article from The Wire in my Facebook feed yesterday morning. The condensed version is Amtrak providing “residencies” to “writers” for “free.” As I’m lead to believe “free” is meant to be they don’t have a price tag yet, “writers” are to be determined by Amtrak, and “residencies” suggest spending a night in a sleeper car. What I gather is they’re still in the stages of determining if this will work out for them.

It all started when a New York City writer made a suggestion that found its way to the right people. Go figure. Once the test run was offered to a colleague of said writer, it made itself into print. Many involved in the writing community have expressed interest in the project for its “creative atmosphere.” I can agree. This combines two of my favorite activities: being in motion and writing stuff down on paper. I write on paper because I like to doodle, and edit, and tap my pencil on the pad and stick it behind my ears.

It made my heart ache for about two hours with flare ups each time I edited this entry.

Why would such a fun idea be so painful?

Granted it’s Amtrak, with its memories of crashes and other problems.

…but so what?

Airlines have their risks. Why the Hell does it hurt so much?

For the business conscious, it’s a matter of supply and demand. I could see the demand flying into outer space. The supply, on the other hand, would stay at a precious few. I did write my reflections on the amount of writers in this world, and how much of a mind trip it is. What would make me so special? Such things are declared to be a case-by-case basis.  I’m never good at case-by-case basis. I’ve known this since I was little.

I find myself often imagining the worst and hoping for the best even when history has given me many examples of outcome. I suppose I could work it around my job, but why even go that far? These things aren’t meant for me. The only time I get anywhere is by having a multitude concrete achievements to precede me. There isn’t anything magical about me.

Society is fickle, very fickle. Winning its favor was never my strong suit.

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Monday, February 24th, 2014

I don’t like causing too much of a fuss out in public. For one, it’s much quicker to maneuver around low-quality humans than it is wasting time dealing with them. Second of all, this area is small, impressionable and judgmental. You get a reputation, and that’s not always a good thing. All of this is under the assumption you’re not from money. If you’re wealthy, you can do whatever you please. I’m sure many in America know that unspoken rule.

I decided to have a vegetarian burrito at the local Chipotle last night because guacamole is fantastic and I wanted to take a ride to a nearby town for some brainstorming. When I arrived, the line was at least twenty to twenty-five customers deep. It would be roughly a ten-minute wait. Not a problem. I’m patient.

As I approached the counter, the line workers started to run out of ingredients. The making of tacos, burritos and bowls ground to a screeching halt. Cooks were frustrated, the line crew was panic-stricken, and the sharks were starting to circle. By sharks, I mean customers.

As the replacements slowly came in, a person who appeared to be the shift manager said something to the cooks out of my earshot which garnered a tired, irritated response along the lines “I’m doing what I can.” It was at that point a middle-aged soccer mom got on her soap box. She explained how the in-fighting wasn’t helpful, her experience there wasn’t that great, she didn’t want to come back again, everyone was upset about what was going on, and she wanted to see the manager. I tolerated her whining up until the point she dragged me in on it.

Excuse me, lady? Speak for yourself. If I have a beef with these workers, I’ll let them know. I don’t need your help. Thanks, pay for your food and get lost. It would probably be a good thing for everyone involved if you didn’t come back ever again. Heck, I’ll frequent the place more to cover the loss in business. How ’bout them apples?

By the time I got up to the frazzled staff, I was boiling hot. It wasn’t from the workers; it was that spoiled little brat ahead of me. If I was too hungry to be decent in public, then it’s my own fault for not eating sooner. She could have made her own dinner and saved us all the headache of listening to her. These employees have to churn out meals for dozens of people a night. People like her. She needs to get real. Don’t try to catch people coming and going.

I addressed every employee as politely and friendly as I could. If there was an ingredient temporarily out of stock, I’d say “no worries” and find the next best substitute. The irked cook who sparked the woman’s diatribe went so far as to say “I like this guy!” I raised my finger and said “patience is a virtue” without so much as a hint of emotion. It was the truth. It didn’t need to be doctored up. He smiled. The tense atmosphere cleared out and the other customers who were acting like brats shriveled up like Shrinky Dinks. Serves ’em right. I’d also like to believe it got me a tad bit more guacamole than corporate suggests.

We’ve all been in frustrating and stressful situations before. We’re not perfect. We get mad. That’s normal. If you can’t cut people slack for being human, don’t even bother asking for any when you become such. It’s going to happen, too. I guarantee it.

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