Saturday, October 8, 2016

Freedom Ain't Ever Free

"Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose
Nothin', don't mean nothin' hon' if it ain't free, no no
And, feelin' good was easy, Lord, when she sang the blues
You know, feelin' good was good enough for me"

Kris Kristofferson (By way of my girl Janis)

Must be the week for songs by Kristofferson. It's raining hard again and it just seems right. Ms. Joplin covered that tune for me a lot of years ago and it's still one that gets right down to where I live. 

I'm still here but Janis burned out back in '70 when her friends left her lonely in a hotel room with nothing and nobody to talk to but heroin and a bottle. I remember listening to her ripping out her voice and pouring out her soul on some scratchy vinyl when I was a kid. Her voice was as raw as a rusty saw blade and she sang like she'd dipped her toes in Hell just long enough to bring the fire back with her. I was only about 12 but something crackled out of the old Wards Airline console, took hold and stayed along for the ride.

All these decades later, and so much further along the road, she still sings it straight to my heart. 

"One day up near Salinas Lord, I let her slip away
She's looking for that home and I hope she finds it" 

A song means something when it works its way into your life over and over again. When it never fades to black like so many other things do, like so many people know it's something that will never stop being your own. And you know it'll always bleed where it touches you. 

So Janis...thanks for the 27 years you gave us. And for that one song you tore out of your heart and tucked in mine. 

I'm still "...waitin' for a train and I's feelin' near as faded as my jeans" after all these long years. Guess maybe that's how it goes.

"Windshield wipers slappin' time..."

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ever After

"Things do not change; we change."
                      Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Thoreau is only partly right; we do change but when we change, we change everything. 

The great big world goes on about its way and never notices the tiny little circles of change around each of us. But in the ever-so-small cloud of our lives, those changes shake us to the very center of what we are. Our story is re-written by the changes all around us and alters who we are.

Everyone lives in a story after all and many stories begin with "Once upon a time..." and end with "happily ever after."

We all wish for our own 'Once upon a time' but 'happily ever after' is only a roll of the dice and a blink of an eye. The changes along the way may turn a bedtime story into a nightmare or a stormy midnight into quiet dawn. The 'ever after' that comes from the hand you dealt may not be so happy after all. Or you might run the table and walk away with pockets full. You never can tell which way the wheel will turn but the story will never be the same afterward.

All of us change and in the doing, change our world and everyone in it. Friends come and go, families drift apart, love fades and becomes memory. Things really do change and we ourselves are the reason.

Maybe the peaceful Walden that Mr. Thoreau looked out across never changed much but the little pond in my coffee cup has been full of tempests for a very long time. Changes in the weather that roar like a sea running heavy before a gale and screaming with the voice of an albatross. Changes in everything.

Someday there will be an 'ever after'...but until then, the dice are still rolling.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Monday Morning Coming Down

As usual, I'm a day late. Sorry Mr. Kristofferson but it feels the same on Monday as that song about a Sunday.

Yesterday was a long one and I wound up getting home late again. Grabbed something to eat and had a beer or two to unwind. I usually just perch at the kitchen table and zone out when I get home. Sometimes that's about all I'm capable of. If I sit still and stare at a sandwich somehow disappearing in front of me, after a while the sound of a locomotive will fade and the floor will stop moving under my feet. It takes some time for all the dirt and diesel smoke from the day to swirl down the drain but eventually it does and nothing is left but a dry toothpaste film on the sink. It's like that a lot when I finally get back from one of these trips. 

I tossed my grip in its parking spot, dumped out my pockets in the junk drawer and went prowling in the fridge. Younger son was here on a break from college so we shot the breeze a little but I was pretty much spent. I hate feeling like I'm only half in the world trying to talk to him. I know I'm mostly incoherent but can't seem to pull it together. I hope he understands. Not too long after nuked leftovers and cool green glass, I slowly made it up the stairs to collapse. 

I should be happy to hit the sheets but lately there's not much rest to be had. Too many things spinning in my head I suppose. I wish they'd whirl around into better dreams but somehow they seem to spin mostly into cobwebs and October chills. I keep on travelling far and wide in my sleep and I wish I was truly home instead. The pillows wind up lost in the shuffle and only daybreak or a crew caller ends the wrestling match. Hence, Monday morning...

I managed to wobble out of bed and only vaguely knew where I was. I spend so much time in crew hotels that sometimes I forget which end of the road I'm on until I run into the wall a couple of times looking for the bathroom. I figured it out after I tripped over the cat and heard the dog barking at his hallucinations. He's getting a tad blind in his old age so he just barks at things behind his eyes instead of out front. I probably do the same thing.

There's a thousand things I need to do in the next day or so but I'm having a hard time getting moving. I'm watching an insanely busy little red squirrel out on the deck raiding what's left of my sunflowers and wishing I had half his energy. I should probably pick off the little stinker before he moves into the house for the winter but I can't seem to bring myself to pop him. He and the chipmunks are racing to strip the seeds off the big flowers and they're fun to watch so I leave them alone. Maybe they'll inspire me. Just keep moving.

But still, it's Monday in the real world and Saturday to me. Days behind everyone again. I missed a birthday party for my Dad on the calendar Saturday this week. What else is new? I've missed so much over the years. I'm mostly a stranger to my own family anymore so they pretty much don't expect me to show up anyway. When you're out of sync most of the time, people just get used to not seeing you after a while. Monday morning again.

Maybe that's why today is kind of gray. The weather is gloomy so that doesn't help. I was hoping for a therapy bike ride today but it just started a cold rain so I guess that's not going to fly either. I need a ride just to clear those cobwebs I spun last night out from between my ears...maybe tomorrow. Fall and I never did get along. 

Monday morning...and I'm coming down.