Tag Archives: thoughts

Does This Depression Make Me Look Fat?

I think it has been a bittersweet couple of weeks. There needs to be more activity here, and so I should provide it. The bitter part is staring down the barrel of Winter. However, the sweet part was seeing my high school friend and his wife in Madison, WI a weekend ago. Grass always seems greener when you walk off your property, which is usually used (I’ve noticed) to discourage you from doing something new. I think it’s better used as fair warning, to really make sure you’re making a calculated risk. Anyone travel anywhere recently?

The other sweet part is I have written some more. The sentences aren’t strung as cleverly as I enjoy, but I’m trying to keep Kurt Vonnegut’s advice in my head:

Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

And a chunk of what I’ve been writing:

We stop near a large portcullis and even larger pegged wheel, and I stare at Molvin until he wiggles out of his nest in the back. Grabbing the moist boards of the wheel, he cranks and grunts for the better part of a minute. The barely-lit sewer painted a lively picture which entertained me as I listened to his incessant bitching. Water reflected movement all around me, and slid across the walls of the sewer from the manmade river underground. The long pools wave in strange formations.

Inside and out, the moving wall mosaic had a pleasant rhythm, exciting and returning for encore. The grunting mule behind me was too busy to observe anything. Balancing himself horizontal to the ground by his stomach, he crunches his stomach a few times in a fruitless wiggle. The best that comes of it is a clinks of the chains wrapped around the wheel.

Two tunnels down, the lights stop. It shimmers momentarily and stops again. Staring made the made the light return. Returning my attention to Molvin, I whip my head back to the same spot. Black. “Move,” I mutter, “move, move, move, please move.”

“Ye git dan h’re an’ help den, Jesh!” Molvin’s ruddy face cranes from its parallel position to shout profanity at me and I jump out of the driver seat.

“Damn the gods, Molvin, do I have to do everything myself?” Maybe that was my anxiety getting the better of me but there’s no retraction after that.

“I s’pose ye do, now help!” Quitting the acrobat routine Molvin crouches at the rotten straw near the mechanism.

“Fine, if it gets us closer to the bath house.” Sliding down the seat my approach to the wheel is quicker than I would normally perform. Waiting for Molvin to stop his intermittent bitching, I dig my feet hard into the rocks. The portcullis moves in screams as we strain to roll the wheel in motion. A feeling of nausea tingles in my nose as I close my eyes softly and whimper but we continue until a pawl prevents it from falling at the top. The halls return to the quiet display it once was. Swallowing hard, little prompts me to press on through the gate.

Copyright © 2016 Corvidae in the Fields

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Sunday March 2nd, 2014

As Winter decides to entrench itself once again, I’ve tried desperately to seek shelter from a hostile planet. My choice of reading material may not be the best, but The Jungle is a fresh book for which I gnoshed upon this afternoon. It did concern me that the happenings of a turn of the 20th century meat packing plant did not upset my stomach, as I’m sure was intended, but at least I can identify the problems discussed throughout. This book would be a poor read for those with a faint heart.

At least I have good news from others. A good friend, a good man, of whom I’ve known for almost 20 years finally has his place among on the organ recipient list. He was born with Cystic Fibrosis, and ever since age 6 has experienced decreasing lung capacity. He will now await a double lung transplant that will extend his life considerably. He and his wife are pleased and hopeful. I donated my snow blower money to help cover the living expenses that won’t be assured by the insurance company. It’s for the better.

Speaking with my mother, she wasn’t surprised. What she said wasn’t meant to be damning, but my Devil’s workshop of a mind couldn’t resist. She went on to say, “Nate, you have a big heart. You take care of your friends. Had you not been hurt so much, you’d be happy with life.” The taste went sour in my mouth as the brain gleefully relived moments I wish not to remember. Only a runaway mind could truly relish injuring its owner.

Hemingway, whether flippant or serious, once answered the question “what is the best early training for a writer” with “an unhappy childhood.” That’s probably how a lot of writers come to be. I can remember furiously trying to scribble words on sheets of paper as a child. There wasn’t much in the way of encouragement in the house, but then again, I did keep a lot to myself. The efforts often fizzled in a whirlwind of other people’s concerns. Everyone has their problems, or so it is explained. I’ve tried long and hard to abide by it, and stay out of the world’s way.

Why I write? I cannot say. People seem to enjoy it, even if my head aches in confusion and tumult in the process of making more. What have I got to lose? I’m single. It looks like that’s my path. Work is important, but what should I be at the end of the day? Maybe someday I can unclench my jaw and go with the wind. Maybe not. At least there’s something around to note I once existed.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Coming up with topics for journal entries are a challenge I’d like to think I’ve won more often than not. On occasion, I look for help. Seeking help from other sources isn’t a shameful practice; only when people are being used does it become a problem.

My decision today was to visit a conversation starter website to simply provide a question for me to answer.  This is like an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares where he gave the cooks a handful of ingredients and asked them to make a dish. Without further ado, the question is:

“What is your favorite season?”

What is my favorite season? Do I have a favorite season? Are the seasons all that important to me? It’s sophomoric, but it’s still thinking. Thought is always appreciated over spectating. A non-thinking person is merely a vessel for rhetoric.

It just so happens I do have a favorite season. My thoughts on the matter were made known on April 6th of last year with “Winter of the Mind.” I think it’s one of my better pieces. The work is more descriptive of the mental anguish I feel while wading through the snow-bound months.

Fun fact: that flash was written in a Waffle House at 2:30 in the morning while intoxicated people gossiped about me from ten feet off. Drunk bumpkins are quaint. It reminds me of Bill Hicks screaming “well, looks like we got ahselves a readah!”

Spring is coming… someday, and I’ll be ready for it. Even the buds littering the property are given a free pass for the warmth of the wind and color of grass. No amount of lawn mowing will bring me down. I may have to do things I wouldn’t normally do, like sharpen a mower blade, but it’s nothing compared to irritation of putting in storm windows.

The upcoming season is, by far, the most pleasing of palettes: the rich greens, blues, yellows, and reds. It’s all full and succulent. Life just oozes from the tips of leaves and brings forth a supple vivacity I relish in nature. Seasonal areas around here also open up, and people come back from their Winter retreats. Life begins again in Ohio. Everything moves once more.

Everyone is different, and I understand this is a matter of personal taste. That’s to be understood. We can’t all like the same thing, and I wouldn’t want it either. To say it makes for a boring existence is trite, but I’d love for people to have their own preferences. For those Winter fanatics, I hope they enjoy the rest of it. It’s certainly driving me up a wall! 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

I read Jen Maidenberg’s blog this morning which came off the heels of another reflective moment in my life. If you haven’t had the opportunity, I do recommend paying her a visit. She’s nice. She won’t bite, which should be a delightful change of pace from me who enjoys mouthing you like an Akita. Get your sanitary wipes out; I slobber.

As I’m sure those who have read my work (even in passing) would simply be shocked to find out I can be cheeky, facetious, and otherwise socially unnerving, I can also be quite kind, considerate, and all-around genuine. Well, last night had me sending an apology to a person of whom I have known for three years. The problem is I tend to think we have some personality traits in common, and for people like us that can rub. I may have been a bit over-the-top with the cheek and irritated the Hell out of her.

How does it relate to Jen? It plays off the idea of secrets. There’s a concern that if we share our secrets with others, then they will shun us or there’s the fear they will shun us. More and more, I feel like the worker that can’t hold the wood in his arms anymore, the guy who blows his nose loudly in a restaurant, or the old man who walks around in his underwear and boots. Some say that’s being “tired of life.” I prefer to call it “etiquette burnout.”

It takes energy to work with everyone around me. Most of it is spent making sure everyone is comfortable by having me as company. As suggested, I think I hit a wall sometime ago. It would have to be in the fashion of Loony Tunes, as that exaggeration describes the feeling well: the crash and slide down as the reel-to-reel grinds to a halt.

So, when I think the opportunity arrives to metaphorically show up in my magenta, polyester sweatpants and flip-flops I take it. Unfortunately, there’s always a limit to being yourself around company. I took too many liberties, and dare say went a Rascal too far. After thinking about it, my mind is now in two camps: the young and the old. The young part of me still wants to cooperate with the rest of the civilized world while the 85 year-old me is taking a nap with the words “as is” written on his forehead.

This doesn’t seem right for a 35 year-old man, yet oddly honest from this side of the fence.

Tagged , , , ,