Saturday, December 28, 2013

December the 29th

Again, the Wheel of the Year has turned. Today is a special day, though. Yes, Yule was last week, and yes, New Year's Eve is coming soon, but today is someone's birthday.

You know, it wasn't all that long ago that I started doing this little annual celebration, and I hope I've not embarrassed her, nor made her feel the fool in any of my blathering rambles. I love her.

Here, let me say that again:

I love you Jennifer.

You are so beautiful, so brave, so wonderfully YOU. I see mother and daughter, teacher and student, humble and proud. I love to hold you close and listen to your breathing, and I love that you are complex and intricate. I love the way you love me, and I hope to have many more birthdays in your eyes. In those gorgeous eyes. <3

Happy Birthday, my Jenny.

“May your sky always be clear, may your dear smile always be bright and happy, and may you be for ever blessed for that moment of bliss and happiness which you gave to another lonely and grateful heart. Isn't such a moment sufficient for the whole of one's life?”

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, White Nights

My heart will be forever grateful for your smile.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Christmas Post

This is the post where I usually go on and on about how loved I feel, how happy I am, and how much I appreciate my life. This year, I think I'll point in a different direction.

My friends, If you have never learned the lesson taught in A Christmas Carol, please go watch, read, or listen to it. Kindness and compassion are free, and something that the world could do well to have more of.  Being selfless and offering to be there to lend a hand to those in need is a gift not only to those you help, but to yourself as well. The 'Christmas spirit' is often lacking on our lives, and even if it only appears once a damned year, it is worth experiencing. I love putting dollars into the red buckets, giving to the kids out canning, and offering a little something to a local charity. Throughout the year, I try to keep it alive, though. I usually pay for the person behind me at the toll booth. It's a small gesture, but I love to watch the person pay anyway. If I could, I would buy the world a Coke, so to speak.

I understand that I am privileged and truly don't understand need, but I see life differently than most people I know. I can appreciate hardship, and hard times - I've been there. I haven't forgotten what it is like to eat macaroni and cheese or ramen noodles, but I guess what I'm getting at is that I HAD food. I might not have liked it much, but I HAD it.  As I get older, I realize just how many people DON'T have anything to eat at all, or a roof over their head, or a safe place to even sit. Yes, I am privileged. I hope that we, as a society, begin to remember the cast-off members of this tribe of mankind. I wish with all my heart that no person would be hungry or forgotten in a society as supposedly advanced as ours claims to be. But every time I hear a young person angry for not getting the latest iPhone or gaming console, I die a little inside. Life is more than the latest gadget. It is far more than the newest 'thing'. Life is about humanity. I think they might have stopped teaching that.

I hope that we remember this someday.

For you all, I wish the merriest of Christmases. I had a wonderful celebration with an abundance of food, gifts, and family. I hope that the next year finds me giving more to those who truly need it, and sharing that joy with my family and loved ones.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Less With More?

Another Holiday season is barreling down upon us.
As it does, I find myself taking pause, looking around, and wondering about our rabid consumption of goods and services. I'm older and wiser this year, and I've been thinking long and hard about how to do more things I value in my life without having to serve the man.

Can I do more with less?

How much of my life is simply excess? How much do I enjoy that others might consider unattainable? I have a place to live (and sometimes I wonder if it's just too large), I have food to eat (I find myself spending too large a portion of each paycheck on dining out), and I have gas for my car (oh, that... yeah), I don't travel as much as I'd like, and I don't have a luxury car (or a luxury anything, for that matter!). So what is it that keeps me in the grind every day? I don't feel particularly rewarded at the end of my work day, I don't feel like I've made all that big a difference, and I usually feel too spent to do much of anything creative when I get home. I long to create, to make, to paint, to sing, to play... I ache for the Muse to grab my hand and show me what I have to give to the world.

So, back to the question: Can I do more with less?
I think it might boil down to me taking a hard look at what is important to me at this place in my life. Do I need to buy so many meals out? Do I need to keep wandering the aisles looking for the next best anything? Do I really need another something-or-other?  The answer is no. I can see places I could save money and still be happy. But I worry that living frugally will be more difficult than I expect.

I consider myself pretty cheap most of the time. Here as with the rest of my life, however, I am split. I appreciate good quality products, yet try to find bargains. I know the difference between good and cheap cookware, bottom-end and better knives, and better fabrics. I like to eat a really good steak, or slab of fish. I think my tastes lean towards the better quality foods in general. But I accept that I can't always buy the better item. I rejoice when I find a Henckels knife at the local Savers, or a stainless Calphalon pan needing a cleaning. I know what 21-oz wool feels like versus a wool blend. I think I've got pretty good taste in drapery and shoes as well. But could I do more with less? In many ways, I already do.

I guess I can. Maybe it's time to make an effort to reign in my spending to a point where I can begin to really see a difference. Pack more lunches and watch those little spending binges. Maybe I am ready to sell off my extra items and begin to free myself from all the things I claim no attachment to. I think so.

I want to. And with that, I set the wheels in motion.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

...But Tell Me How You Feel

Surrounded by faces and voices, I listen and watch

The sky is different, but constellations the same

Shared pasts and disjointed presents fall upon my eyes and my ears

I see familiarity and distance, I see knowing smiles and leers alike

I feel as I have always, as I do so often even now

I am alone in a crowded room

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks, 2013

Another Thanksgiving is upon us, and the skies are clear and beautiful. There is a nip in the air and the Winter is most certainly coming, as is Christmas. But those things are not here yet, are they? No matter how rushed along the Holiday Shopping Craze is, today is a day that means the gathering of family (no matter the makeup) and the reflection on our many gifts. 

I was going to once again don my grumpy old man hat and tear into those upping the ante in the retail arms race, but instead I will leave that to the many others who surely will. Instead I will choose not to partake in the madness, and instead spend a few moments being thankful. 

This year, more than any other, I am thankful for being the man I am. I am far from perfect, but I am thankful for my positive aspects, as well as my many flaws. I am, as Popeye so boldly states, who I am. And that's all. I am Martin Thomas LaBelle, son of Robert and Marie, brother of Tonette. I am father of Weyland and Morgan, and devoted partner to Jennifer and Gina. I am artist, warrior, "Mr.Fix It" (sometimes "Mr.Broke It"), confidant, village elder, student, minstrel, and jester. I am the raven, seeing the world we live in from far away, and from close up. I am the darkness and the light that drives sadness and joy equally. I am singular, and I am leigon.  If you know me, you know these things to be true, regardless of the dichotomy.

I am thankful for the family that I have left, and for the ones I am lucky enough to be included in. Family is a funny thing, as there are so many different concepts. I am grateful for any family I am included in, even the ones I might no longer be an active part of. If my presence is still there, thank you. 

I could go on, thanking the Academy and my peers (neither of which would be really true, but still fun to say), but I'll stop there. I have many things to be thankful for. as so many of you do, but take my hand for just a minute and let's be quiet for just a moment, shall we?

In that small gesture, I hope you have been thankful for the things we don't always mention. Let us remember those who serve in the United States military (any branch), to the public servants who are there to protect the peace, or keep our homes standing in the face of fire, or flood, or other natural disaster. Let us bow our heads to those who are not with their families on this particular day, and raise a glass to their sacrifice of service. Let us be kind and tender to those who need it this holiday season, the members of our society who remain in the cold whilst we complain about the government from the comfort of our warm homes. Let us also take just a flash of an instant to look into the face of those we consider our enemy and try to see the world through their eyes, without the shroud of judgement upon their choices we might not agree with. Offer a hand in peace and acknowledgment that we will not always agree, but can disagree with compassion and mutual respect.

Today, gather with whatever passes as family (or be alone with a glad heart), and accept that we can not ever hope to control the entirety of the world we live in. For just this one day, be thankful for what you have, even if it doesn't seem like all that much, because to someone who has far less, you are living a dream they might never hope to attain: The hungry, the homeless, the uncared for; Those who are troubled, or weary, or empty; Those who are shunned, or wanting acceptance for whatever situation places them on the fringes of their own place in life. Take these people into your heart and wish for them a world without fear or hatred or violence. Wish for them a world that will help feed or clothe them when in need, wish for a world that doesn't frown upon a family that doesn't fit the Rockwellian image. (For that matter, imagine a different world where Rockwell painted pictures of a family with two moms, two dads, several loving members, or some other dynamic that might not fit your traditional image).  

But please, be thankful today for anything you might have, As world events continue to prove - life is short. Love freely, let go of hate and judgement, and let's all be good to each other. 

Even if it is just for one day. 

From the diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes 2nd Rhode Island, November 28, 1863:
"Our mess servant found a house, and what was better, a turkey. This they roasted, and with sweet potatoes and new bread and butter they appeared to us about 2 P.M…. The good things were spread upon a rubber blanket and we gathered around. The Chaplain began to say grace when bang went a gun, and a shell from the enemy howled over our heads. The Chaplain did not falter but went on with his prayer…."

When more artillery began to fall, “we took the rubber blanket by its corners and moved under a knoll where we enjoyed our feast,” Rhodes wrote. “Our Batteries soon got to work and our dinner was eaten while the Artillery duel went on.”  


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Her Cold Lips

It lays heavy upon my heart to feel this darkness again, my once and eternal friend. The clawed, ravenous thing that kept me so connected to my words. I am disconnected from them now, distanced and wandering. My muse lies cold in the ground, under the browned leaves. Her lips do not touch my own, but I can feel the ache from where they once lay, and I wonder if she will ever rise again to bestow upon me the grand gifts she once did.

The slick, greasy black that rises to greet me is familiar, yet unwelcomed in my current life. I remember it, even wanted it to return for a spell, but I am ill prepared to deal with the weight of it all, dragging me ever downward into the abyss of the coming months.

How will I survive? Will I emerge from the Winter whole and intact, or will I once again chip away at myself in order to maintain some semblance of who I am, or was? In the end, will the darkness carry off what is left of my tissue-paper thin soul? What happens if I simply close my eyes and allow it?

Go Easy

We have spent the last 45 miles together in close proximity to one another, but as you round the bend and begin to bask in His glory, the blinding Sun somehow makes me untrustworthy. Your right foot slides off the accelerator, where it was comfortable, and slips over to the brakes. You look nervously in your mirrors, and farther down the lane. The trust we shared now broken, this act is repeated over and over again until the long line slows to a near halt then resumes. Others, more trusting than you, are taken by surprise and have to slow far more quickly than is appropriate.  The wink of chaos appears in the confusion.  As we become accustomed to the dazzling light, we being again to trust, speeding together as brothers and sisters in arms.

You know, I seriously do not understand the concept of “Hey, we’re going 85 mph! We've been less than three feet apart for miles, but when I get a little sun in my eyes, I’ll have to slam on the brakes and slow to 50 just so I can be sure that there isn't a pile-up just ahead.” If we all stay in position, and don’t do anything stupid, there is no need to slow. Keep doing what you are doing and we’ll all be fine. We’ll all be fine TOGETHER.

Here I go again, the grumpy old man rises up in me and I am forever baffled by the inability of people to trust what they know to be trustworthy. We might not be neighbors, or lifelong friends, but we've shared far less space than several tons of steel should be comfortable sharing for quite some time. In traffic, we've forgotten that our bumpers have been close enough to nearly touch so many times that we no longer feel threatened by the possibility. But factor in less than 3 seconds of dazzle, and suddenly you have forgotten how to drive steadily (as you have done for miles and miles already this morning or evening).

Let’s stay in our lanes and keep it steady, Freddie. Whattya say? Can you dig it?

I could write for hours about my travels, and the wonders that seem to never cease while in traffic. Maybe I should. Maybe it would be good therapy.

Until then, Drive on my good man (and woman). Drive on.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


I don't like following the rules.

I cross against the light. I don't always cross in the crosswalk or stay inside the lines. I don't have a problem cutting a light when turning right, pushing my way into an intersection to make a turn, or making my own damned parking spot.  I'm okay with skirting the regulations, with not necessarily following the return policy, and I'm perfectly fine with peer-to-peer networks. I can pick locks, I collect keys, I watch for entry codes when I can, and I love to be where I'm not supposed to be. The 'No Admittance' sign? It's like an invitation.

I'm not overly concerned with making mistakes. If it happens, I'll deal with the fallout. If something breaks, I'll fix it. If I'm not supposed to do it, I probably will. Or at least try. Why not? You'll stand there and worry about getting in trouble while I'm already seeing what that button does.  Tell me your reasons for being constrained by unenforceable regulations and I'll smile and not worry to much about them. Tell me why you simply MUST follow the included instructions and I'll just see if I can't figure out how to operate it myself.

I'm rambling here, but you get my point. I'm a scofflaw. I'm a rogue. I'm a hooligan. I'm a rascal, a scoundrel, and a trickster. I'm that guy your mother warned you about or you were told not to fall in with. I'm trouble with a capital T.  But you know what? I'm not going to apologize for it one bit. If there's a way around that rule, I'm going to find it with a smile on my face. Too much of life is wrapped in warning stickers and lists of rules. I say loosen up a little and stop sweating over pulling that tag off your mattress. Stroll down the corridor at the mall that leads off the beaten path. See what's behind door number 3. Live a little. Sometimes, it's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.

Life is full of rules made up to keep us "safe".  I wonder out loud if many of those rules aren't there just to keep us compliant. So, I've got the flashlight and my pick set. Let's see what we can see...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  - Benjamin Franklin

     Where are the patriots? Where are all the “Never Forget” bumper stickers, t-shirts, and hats? Where is the outrage against the terrorists trying to strip America of its freedom? Where are the flags, once flying on every street, every lawn, and every car? Where are the candlelight vigils held for the lost? Where are the millions of men and women clinging to each other, united under our nation’s flag, standing up tall, so proud to be American? What happened to all that? It’s only been 12 years, folks. I personally know people who FORGOT what today was. Is it so easy to forget that today is September 11th?

     So what has 12 years brought us? Are we still proud to be American? Are we still proud to stand before Old Glory and place our hand over our heart as we recite the Pledge of Allegiance? Do you feel safer today when you travel? Do you feel a sense of national pride when you stand in line at an airport, shoes off, arms raised, and ‘walk through the scanner, please’? Is this what freedom looks like?

     Did you know that the TSAPrecheck program allows you to sail through those checkpoints for an $85 fee? I say that we are not safer. I say that we are simply more conditioned to accept that the NSA can review your phone’s contact list remotely, and that there are civil rights violations being perpetrated upon a public willing to give up freedom in lieu of safety. I believe that there is no longer a chance to revolt against the government machine as our founding fathers did not all that long ago.  I believe all hope is lost in a society happy to accept a government spying on the scale that it occurs today.  I’ve blogged about this before, and I’m sorry to be revisiting the subject, but I feel pretty strongly about it. I think we should all feel strongly about being coerced into giving up our freedoms by thugs wrapped in the cloak of “National Security”.

     To those who have already forgotten, today is September the 11th. Twelve years ago, in 2001 at 8:46 AM, the North tower of New York’s World Trade Center was impaled through the heart with a Boeing 767. At 9:03 AM, its twin sister was mortally wounded, again with a Boeing 767.  Two Boeing 757 aircraft were also hijacked and reportedly struck the Pentagon (9:37 AM) and a field in Pennsylvania (10:03 AM).  There were no survivors from any of the aircraft. 246 Victims were aboard the 4 aircraft, 2,606 in NYC (both towers and on the ground), and 125 at the Pentagon – all told, nearly 3000 Americans.
My heart still goes out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives.

I remember, with my head bowed respectfully for the dead.
I remember, with a  wary eye on those waiting to strip away my freedoms.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Moment

Beauty held me close to her heart 
and let me listen at my leisure
She spoke to me in whispers
and I listened with my eyes closed
Beauty told me of life, and love
She kissed my head 

Love lifted me up into the sky
Love saw my smile and felt my tears
Love let me soar betwixt the clouds 
You gave me wings

You, yes you. My love, my life, my heart, and my soul. 
You, who holds me in the night in your arms as Beauty does. 
You, Starry-eyed, and wondering.

I am humbled by these gifts, and I treasure every moment.

There is no greater reason to live than Love


<3 <3 

Sunday, August 11, 2013


     Franklin James Stein sat on the curb holding his ice cream to his face. The unopened wrapper clung to his dark skin, and the cool water condensed along the seam between the frozen treat and his overheating cheek. Franklin closed his eyes.

     Donald Batista saw that little bastard Frankie across the street doing something stupid with his Popsicle. He decided that Freaky Frankie needed another beating, so he started closing the distance between them with (what looked to the world like) a rhythmic saunter. In reality, as he was crossing the street, Donald was trying to free his right testicle from the elastic leg opening it had been trapped under for the past few minutes.  It was uncomfortable, but there were too many other kids around to just reach down his pants and do something meaningful about it.

     Franklin sat, cooling his face with his ice cream. He could feel it melting, but he didn’t care. It felt so cold on his skin.

     Donald gave up with his ball. He broke into a half-run, wanting to beat Freaky before he ran away. He balled up his fist and wound up as he got closer. Other kids stood, staring at the impending beat-down with a mixture of morbid fascination and pity. Donald was at least twice the size of Freaky, and in the past had beaten the smaller black kid so badly that he had to stay out of school for a week, unable to see.   Freaky never told who did it, though. Probably would have ended up dead if he had.

     Donald was now close enough to Franklin to say something before hitting him and not worry that he was going to get away if he ran.  “Hot, Freaky?” he yelled as he swung his fist downward towards the exposed right side of Franklin’s face.  The other kids watched the almost comically slow-motioned arc that Donald’s fist made through the air. The trajectory lined up nicely with Franklin’s cheek bone, and would surely crush it down into his upper jaw, breaking it and lining up another extended stay at home.

    Franklin turned on Donald with alarming speed, ducking just as the fist screamed past his face. Donald was off balance and spun wildly out of control. He counted on his momentum driving him onto and through Franklin’s body, his intention to spill the boy and his Popsicle into the gutter.  Instead, it was Donald himself careening into the gutter, littered with hot trash baking in the summer sun. The other kids were horrified at first, then began laughing uncontrollably as Donald tried to stand, covered in hot, damp litter, and now nursing a bloody elbow and knee.  His face was screwed up into something that resembled hate, if a kid his age really understood hate. “You little motherfucker” he spewed from his dirty mouth. There was a used gum wrapper dangling from his lower lip.  “You’re fucking DEAAAAAAAD”

     Franklin stood up and laughed at the larger boy. He grabbed his knees and doubled over for just a second, his laughter making his sides hurt, and tears form in his eyes. Donald turned redder as he realized that he was being laughed at AND the other kids were joining in. He balled up his fists again, bloody knuckles leaking onto the curb. He rushed the smaller boy hard, intending on pummeling him into the sidewalk. Again, Franklin dodged at the last second, sending Donald face-down again. He rolled over; his shirt now torn and hanging open, exposing his soft, white belly. His forehead was bleeding from a scrape, and his eyes were narrowed like a reptile. Franklin stood as tall as he could, flipped Donald off, smiled, winked, and ran easily down the street, waving to the cheering crowd as he did. Donald stood up and leered through welling tears. He took two steps towards Franklin, who was, incredibly, approaching at a jog.  “DONNY DONNY DONNY! Fall-Donny!” he chanted as he approached, his eyes bright and triumphant.

     There was a loud noise and the crowd silenced behind it. Franklin fell in a slump, the crimson stain spreading across his back. He would miss his12th birthday next week.

Donald smiled over the body at his older brother Raymond.

One of the girls in the crowd screamed.

Monday, August 5, 2013

On Gifts

I am here, alone for a bit. I have a chance to write – a gift I often abandon for being entertained by my Facebook feed, or chatting with people I have or have not met. Sometimes I abandon the chance to write in favor of feeling alone. But tonight, I am going to write.

I was recently given a document. It was a thesis written by someone I care for very much, and I am learning to understand and explore. This is not something I accepted lightly, nor without wondering what I would discover of her there.  And discover I did.   I questioned my own process while reading it, I wondered aloud with her about what she would find next. And when I was done, I understand more about her and her struggle in life than she could have ever expressed in any single conversation we could have. This was not written for me, nor for anyone else. It was written for HER, and I admire her courage for sharing it.

I also understood some things about myself in the act of reading about her. She spoke of gifts that she has received, and of not judging others for their station in life. She wrote of her travels on the surface, but when you read between the lines, you realize exactly how much of herself she lay before the reader.   She revealed shame and need, just as much as she revealed joy and contentment.  She is appreciative of her life, and of the struggle others have because of life’s circumstances.  Another reason to love her for whom she is.
I have been given gifts in my life, just as all of you have - just as she has.  Reading about her gifts makes me examine my own ability to be who I am every day. Another of my loves wrote about gratitude and acceptance – about being open to giving AND receiving.  I wonder how long it has been since I came upon that realization in my own life? It feels as though I am naturally giving, and in most cases I am willing to receive.  The place I have the most trouble is accepting that I am worth the love I receive, and I am freely given every day. As understanding as I am, as non-judging as I am, and as open to accepting others as they are, I am still unsure if I am truly worthy of this love.

It falls to insecurities that were gifts at various points in my own life.  My teenage years were filled with doubt of being loved. It wasn't until I was in 10th grade, 1985, when I felt I found peers willing to accept me as I was. There were other friendships before then, some I still kindle, but it was that magic year when I learned to understand friendship and acceptance. I no longer felt as though I needed to be something else to be accepted. I fell in with those who fit poorly with other social groups, yet were not entirely outcasts, either.  I learned about just being me, and that was a crucial lesson.   These people, all of them, were my friends on a level I hadn't been able to grasp until I fell into them. And they were all marvelously THEM as well.  Where then, do the insecurities arise? They are a part of me. There are many places in my childhood I recall where I felt love would not be possible. These places are not for this forum, but perhaps someday, I'll write them down.

It was during this formative time when I met my first girlfriend, She was introduced by a friend, and there is a long story there, one I will not tell here.  But I fell in love with a girl I barely knew, and we learned to be together. I am as responsible for who she is today as she is for who I am.  She is a point in my life I cannot change.  Even then, I felt lucky to be loved, and this led to a part of my life I will not regret, nor say I didn't want. But when that relationship ended, it was 17 years later.  I had other loves, giving and receiving gifts from them as well. I loved them and still carry some of them in my heart, some longer than I really should.  But all those years ago is when  I first noticed my ability to love others and not replace anyone, and it wasn't until an epiphany not very long ago that I realized how that led me to my current life. I found ways to explain it that were different than how I understand it today, but it really meant the same even then : I am not wired like others.  Thus, my current relationship situation seems more understandable.

I have tried to teach my children to not judge others. My son, now 20, demonstrates an ability to live that as a man. He has his own issues in life, gifts that his mother and I gave to him both consciously and unconsciously, but he is a man and I am proud of him.  My daughter is a marvel of acceptance. I am proud of her as well, given the chances she has been given to make her own choices.  I hope that my children will continue to nurture those gifts, and someday realize that allowing the person in front of them to be who they are.

I am grateful for my fluidity; it allows me to move through life with an air of lightness. I am unafraid of new situations and although I sometimes need to process and deal with emotions, I am willing to do the work.  I am grateful for my mechanical aptitude, and my fearlessness of taking things apart. I could apply this to people I meet as well, since I am known to ask deep, probing questions of them. I am grateful for my ability to converse – something a friend gave me advice on all those years ago, and I use still. I am grateful for my ability to love, without expectation, without condition. I believe my mother, most of all, gave me that.  She let me be who I was, even when that fell outside her own ideals and beliefs.  For all the other gifts I am not, or will not, name here, I am ever grateful. I spent a lifetime learning to be me, and I carry with me lessons I've learned from myself, and from others.

I am not what many consider normal. I am not safe. I am not unwilling to take chances or risks. But I am willing to put those I love first, and to try and do what is right. I am willing to learn from my mistakes, own them, and try to make the best of the fallout when it goes badly.

I have been given so many wonderful gifts in life.  I am learning to give myself one right now: I am worthy of the love I receive.

Many times, I've told others, “If you want to know me, read my blog”.   Here, dear readers, is another piece of my soul.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


"The cocktail party effect is the phenomenon of being able to focus one's auditory attention on a particular stimulus while filtering out a range of other stimuli, much the same way that a partygoer can focus on a single conversation in a noisy room. This effect is what allows most people to "tune into" a single voice and "tune out" all others. It may also describe a similar phenomenon that occurs when one may immediately detect words of importance originating from unattended stimuli, for instance hearing one's name in another conversation."

                                                                             -From the Wikipedia entry for "Cocktail Party Effect"

Open your ears to the rest of the party. There is music, there is laughter, and there is so much more going on. Expand your mind, open your senses, and broaden your focus. There's a party, my good fellow! A PARTY!  Move to the music, grab a partner and dance with them, share your smile! Don't sit there alone in the corner and play with the cat! Don't hide your smile behind your hands! Cavort! Frolic! Swing those hips! I mean, seriously!  Don't just sit in the corner and pet the cat, people!  Be involved. Talk to LOTS of people and learn about them. 

I could offer the same advice about life, too. Open your arms and embrace the whole world! Love freely, be forgiving of those who you might not otherwise think should be. Smile a lot. Laugh. Sing, Dance. Don't waste life picking everyone apart for things you don't understand or agree with. Choose to be HAPPY. 

A long time ago, I was that guy, You know the one. The guy you just dread talking to. The Asshole in the Corner.  I scoffed when a dear friend of mine went on a negativity diet and said nothing but positive things for 30 days.  I decided to try it. And you know what? I felt better. My feet stopped hurting as much as they were, my back wasn't so painful every morning. I felt better, and I haven't looked back a day since. Yes, I have my days, we ALL do, but it was such a meaningful choice. And to this day, I try hard to be the ray of sunshine that brightens the day.  I was told at work by someone that I am always singing and smiling, and I am positive. THAT was worth the investment in myself right there.  To brighten someone's day is such a gift. 

So, Listen more. Smile more. Laugh more. And CHOOSE to be happy. Life's to damned short to be otherwise. 

My heart is free, my soul is smiling, and I am proud to be who I am. 

Recently, someone special offered up a set of "Team Love" stickers. When I was that guy, I would not have been so touched by that small gesture. These days, I'm a grinning fool

Fly my loves. 


And hug more. It's good for you. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Spotlight Revisited

"My flesh is mortal
But my soul is eternal

And I choose who I share both with. "

Somewhere in the night, I sang.
To an audience, no less.
It was amazing. I was completely awash with nervousness, but I sang and played my ukulele to a fairly full house at a local haunt.

A very long time ago, I begged the question, "Did you come here to see the show or to sing for us all?"

I answered that in a very different way at long last.  Now don't get me wrong, my life is pretty much an open book as it is. But this was a new adventure, one I have been avoiding for far too long. And now, I am aching to do it again.

The young man who works for me in my office laughed when I told him about playing my uke and singing. He asked me "You can sing?"
I answered, "We can all sing."
Again, he laughed. "No, I mean you can sing good? Like, you know... I have friends that sing REALLY good. I can't."
I replied, "Who cares? Just sing. Nobody even looks up in most cases. We put too much importance on meeting some mysterious standard. Just sing."
He smiled and said simply, "That's cool"

Bet your ass it's cool!
I was too nervous to have ANY sort of stage presence, but I did it. The guy working the board screwed with me a little, since he was fidgeting and messing for a while, and I missed the fact that I was supposed to be playing while he did.  But eventually, I just played. Gina sang "Coin Operated Boy" into a quiet mic, and the bar was pretty noisy, but she sang just fine. Even when the guest drummer totally botched the timing of the song up, and I missed a chord change here and there. She continued with "White Rabbit", then yielded the mic to me. I did my version of "A Pirate Looks at 40", "The Man Who Sold the World", then asked if I could do one more... I finished with "Hurt".  I was told to make love to the microphone, as I was too quiet.

So I tried.

I'm getting more comfortable singing into one, and I'll keep at it as long as I can.

Would you like to sing with me? There's plenty of stage and there's time.


It's All About the Moment

Did you ever just close your eyes when you held someone's hand? Just close them and *feel* that hand in yours? The way the skin moves under your finger tips? The supple texture of it? The tiniest of sounds as your fingerprint's ridges glide over the surface of that hand? The way that the blood fills and refills the delicious plumbing just beneath the skin? 

No? I'd recommend trying it sometime. It's so intimate. It's so very perfect. Close your eyes and try it. truly lose yourself in such a simple thing. You might be very familiar with that hand, the scars, the dimensions, the weight, and the temperature - but then again, you might be surprised. 

You might just discover that you only thought you knew that hand. 

Our hands are how we interact with much of the world. They tell stories if you are quiet and listen very carefully. Stories that you might have missed. 

I find myself working hard to live in the moments that make up life. Not the view from 30,000 feet a life passes by below, but actually IN the moment. What did it smell like? Was it warm? Did I feel anything unusual emotionally or physically? Did it taste differently than I expected?  Were there unusual or new things to see? I try very, very hard to do this because I've only realized how important these moments are in the last few years.  I suppose I've always done this, but not consciously until somewhat recently. 

Take that hand, close your eyes, and tell me what you see. 

It's all important. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

*Tap Tap Tap* "Is this thing still on?"

I've been busy.

Work is really busy.

Sorry I haven't seen you, I've been busy.

The year is just flying, huh? When did life get so busy?

How am I? Busy.

See a pattern?
Oh, HI! <picks up the microphone> There. Is that better? Can you all hear me now?

So yeah, I've been busy, it seems. Busy with work, busy with my loves, busy with life, busy with a whole bunch of things. But you know what I just realized? I haven't been living the way I want. No, now stop. You in the back, sit the hell down - this is MY show. You want to talk? Get your own damned blog.

But yeah. I haven't been living the life I really want. I've been floating through the days rather than living them, for the most part. I've let work become my excuse for everything - Why I''m not writing, why I'm not doing ANYTHING artistic, why I'm so damned tired all the time. It's WORK'S fault!

It might be partially, but in the end it's MY fault.  I'm just not living.   Now don't misunderstand me - I've had some AMAZING experiences with my loves. I've been to see some incredible bands, and to Boston, and NYC, and just so many great experiences, but the days between those experiences have been less than stellar.

You know what I want to do? I want to get back to the music I've discovered again. I want to spend more time singing in public and working on the Lovecraft album with my incredibly talented friend. I want to go to the park and make an ass of myself with my uke. I want to draw or paint, DAMN do I want to do that. I want to be able to BE the artist I feel inside. I have this craving to create.

I also have the craving to SHOP! It's time to freshen up my wardrobe and come to terms with the fact that (a) I've put some weight back on and (b) I want to look GOOD not only for my loves, but for myself. It might be time to go blonde again, too.

It's time to stop the excuses. I'm tired. yes. I'm busy, yes. But we all are, aren't we?  Isn't it time to get on living again?

Can you smell the Summer coming? Me too.

<drops mic back in the stand>

I think it's time to write a song.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


I missed the sign-ups for Boston's Run to Remember this year mostly because I dragged my feet, but in part because there was a significant rise in registration after the Marathon Bombing.  I found out this morning (I've had my eye off the ball, ok?) that there are NO SPECTATORS ALLOWED at the start/finish line.

Are you fucking kidding me?

The applause and roar that hits you when you come down that straight to the finish line is such a boost. I am not competitive by nature, but damn if that really doesn't get you going. So the absence of that crowd at the line will be horribly missed. I can imagine that the volunteers will still be cheering, but that's not the same, is it?

And it also means that the jackasses who bombed Boston have won.

Boston Strong?  No. Boston lied down. It was just a slogan after all, wasn't it?

We can keep enormous public places such as airports safe from terrorists with expert screenings by those wonderful TSA agents. We can keep Disneyland safe with private security screenings and we can identify individuals with automated camera technology. Hell, we can even keep the 911 Memorial safe with a process strongly resembling an airport screening, but we can't do this is Boston even AFTER it's already been attacked? I wonder how many people pass through the gates at O'Hare every day? I bet it's a shitload more than the crowd attending the Run to Remember tomorrow.  I guess it's just too much to ask.

There is a huge part of me that wants to go get arrested for standing on that bridge and cheering the runners on. I know I won't, because if the other associated negatives that go along with that, but damn do I want to.

If you are running the race this weekend, then YOU are Boston's Strong. You didn't lie down and let terrorism take over your life, and I applaud you.

This is Memorial Day Weekend. A time when we are supposed to honor those fallen in defense of our freedom. Boston's Run to Remember is about that as well.  Let's not forget that we are still free. At least until we lie the fuck down willingly.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Standing Ground

I won't ever lie down.

No matter the efforts to make me, I won't do it. I will not be scared off of my land by any act of terrorism, nor will I simply resign my rights as an American in the name of  "National Security". I will question authority always, I will push back where I can, and I will not give up the things I love when threatened.

I'm stubborn like that.

The bombing of the Marathon today scared people I love, and that is more than enough reason to never slip quietly into the dark mass of sheep willing to be afraid to keep doing what they love. I doubt any of the runners today would consider not competing again, given the chance. I am going to run through the streets of Boston in a month or so. I'll be aware of the increased security that is bound to be in place, and I will grudgingly line up in the inevitable lines to be screened before running, but I WILL run. It would be a disgrace to do otherwise.

I am happy being the man I am. I take chances, but there is little to be gained from being timid. Some consider this to be a fault of character, but I do not. I wear my scars proudly, and I savor the pain that I endured to gain them. Each one is a sentence, or a word, or a paragraph waiting to become a part of my lifelong story, and so far I've got quite a tale going. Look closely at my heart and you'll see the map of my travels. You will see the roads I have taken to be who I am, and the places I've been. You will read between the lines and surmise that I am careless with my heart and my body.

And you'd be wrong.

I am not careless. I am daring. I stand before you naked and honest about all the mended bones and all the bandaged flesh. I am more than the sum of my parts. I have wrapped myself in chance, and I am happy to fail again and again, each time rising to accept the pain and hurt. Each time, learning more of what it means to be me.

To those wanting the world to tremble with fear, I am the enemy. I will never lie down before you.


And I strive to inspire others to do the same.

Stand up and shout to the world that we will not be afraid to be who we are.

I am Wicked.
I will not go quietly.

Will you?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Holiday in Winter

our hearts entwined
our lives a tangled mess
our souls bound
ever in love

our eyes flash
our skin burns
our fingers clasp
ever in love

our minds wander
our breath hitches
our smiles shine
ever in love

the rose ne'er wilts 
when it grows in a garden so grand
and an unfamiliar road leads you
ever in love

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Don't Tell

I am in love

And my heart will forever be full

The stars above are proof enough

Hold my hand and touch them with me

Let us sing in the black void

Let us share those moments

And let us never forget why we are here

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Petals upon the pillow
 Blood red rain as it dies
Beauty eternally burns
 In those dreamy eyes
Whence those kisses fall
 From lips I yearn to taste
And I speak your name
 To your heart I've so long chased
Rhythm and Beats
 Music on my weary soul
Those melodies you sing
 Your hand  I wish to hold
It's love, It's love
 That rises in the sun and crowes
It's love, love my dear
 Like petals from rose.


For I am Black, and Loathed.
And in the Skies I shall watch
Below the murk and the lost and hopeless and despised
I am King.

The streets run with tears
The rivers thick with wretch
Ne'er taste the flesh of the dead
With your nameless lips

Ground Zero (or How I Stopped Having Hope for Freedom in America)

Ground Zero.

Most Americans will know what that means these days, I assume. If you are part of that tiny percentage of people who don't, I'm referring to the site that was, prior to 9/11/01 the location of the World Trade Center's North and South Towers. Now, it's just a couple holes in the Earth located in lower Manhattan. It's more than that. It's a Memorial to the lives lost there, and it's a really great place to take facebook profile pictures, AND it's got a gift shop.

No. I'm not kidding.
A fucking gift shop.

But I'm ahead of myself here. Let me start at the beginning...

When we arrived at the site, there was a chain-link fence wrapped in blue privacy fabric with the 911 Memorial logo (Yes. Logo.) waving gently in the breeze. The new towers, still under construction, loomed overhead against the sky, and there was a distinctly large police presence. A line looking remarkably like a queue at Six Flags awaited just beyond the velvet ropes. All visitors must have tickets to stand in line. It seems that one must secure a visit time and print tickets via the internet or some such nonsense - but there were attendants announcing that tickets were available at the gate for those not possessing them today, a somewhat rare occurrence it seemed. The memorial is not yet complete, but visitors are allowed to view the portions ready for public consumption. So with newly issued tickets in hand, we ventured down into the circuitous pathway, showing our tickets when prompted. Remember- ALL visitors must have a ticket, and it must be displayed until you are instructed otherwise. Sorry. Moving on...

So we wound our way around into the construction, and through several checkpoints before arriving at <cue fanfare> SECURITY. It looked a lot like the TSA screening area of your local airport. Remove all hats, glasses, belts, coats, bags... you know the routine. As I reached down to untie my shoes (That's a good citizen - do what you are trained to do), I was told I could leave them on. My bad. I was wearing steel toed boots. After passing through the metal detector and setting it off twice (I announced that I was wearing them), I was ordered to lift my pant legs up over the cuff of the boot for inspection. Then we were released into the line again, for two final checkpoints. The first was attended by a woman lining the ticket with magic marker (I assume to prevent reentry into the free exhibit OR to prevent me from passing my ticket to a terrorist waiting just on the other side of the fence). The second was just another bored guard, I believe.

Then we made out way down the cattle chute (STAY TO THE RIGHT) and into the Memorial plaza itself.  It's lovely. Two enormous holes in the ground, granite-lined, with waterfalls into a pool that drains into the center column. There is a wide rail engraved with the names of all those who lost their lives that day surrounding each of the two holes - one each for the two tower locations. Essentially, they are the footprints of the towers themselves, permanently vacant from the New York landscape. The light poles dotting the plaza are reminiscent of the towers in shape. Groomed trees are placed strategically throughout, crating a space that begs for reverence and thoughtful insight. However, the throngs of visitors are busy making sure that they are getting good shots of themselves for the family album or Facebook. It's noisier than I would expect, and the theme park atmosphere is juxtaposed against the somber browns and deep grays. People move about quickly, making sure to visit all four sides of each  depression. It's maddening to someone like me who has a very different idea of what respect for the dead means. Don't misunderstand, I'm all for a party for the dead. I'm all for celebrating the lives of those who have passed. But this was like setting up barker's row at a funeral home.  It just felt wrong.  Many visitors were doing the "Take our picture?" thing to others, smiling and making sure that the background clearly identified itself as the 911 Memorial. Sorry, ladies. Take your own damned pictures like so many of your neighbors are doing.

Ever visit the Viet Nam Memorial Wall? It's respectful of the reason it was erected. Same for the Korean War Memorial, and so many other places that mark tragedy in our world. I wonder if the USS Arizona Memorial feels like this?

I'd had enough. Personally, I think the towers should have been rebuilt. No matter what you believe was the real cause of the event, there would be no greater fuck you to those responsible than to get on with living. But no, we chose this instead.

We made our way out, following the instructions to STAY RIGHT, and followed the crowd. And the last stop was the "911 Memorial Visitor's Center" complete with GRAND GLASS WINDOWS displaying such wonders as the NYC PD custom motorcycle and banners ensuring that you knew where you were.

Into the glass doors we went. To the right, two large images of something related to the memorial, and to the left? Well, it was a gift shop. Tee shirts and shot glasses and books and all manner of collectibles ready to go back home with you. All sorts of things for you to remember your visit to the 911 Memorial.

Sorry gang, I believe that you got it all wrong. Tear down that Memorial and rebuild the towers. Let life get back to business as usual. And may whatever god help the first poor jackass I see actually wearing a 911 Memorial tee shirt. Raping the memory of the tragedy is not a great way to make sure we all never forget that day.

I mean, seriously - If this is so great, why not just have Sandy Hook School Memorial ashtrays?

I am angry about all of this. I am really pissed. And a big part of it is our willingness to just stand in line with our papers and be ready to show them when ordered. I'm angry that we line up at airports and take our SHOES off so we can be inspected and X-rayed and examined before boarding a plane. I am angry that I can have my regularly-sized tube of toothpaste that I was told to place in the provided bags thrown out, while a forgotten can of hairspray comes onto the plane with me.  I'm angry that we are slaves to regulation in the name of safety. I'm angry that the war on terrorism has been used to perpetuate the war on tourism. We are supposed to be free, remember?

Not so much anymore, I'm afraid.