It is my privilege to introduce to you my long time friend, associate and accomplice, Dr. Ian Nutcakes.
Dr. Nutcakes is a distinguised member of the American Psychiatric Society and a high level staff member of the Neggooozian Institute for Mental Research. In addition, Dr. Ian is founder of Concerned Physicians For Censored, Repressed And Otherwise Frustrated Artists, commonly known as CPFCRAOFA, an acronym which no one can pronounce but looks serious.
For this week’s Throwback Thursday, let’s go way back. 11 years back.
(Herein lies proof that I was a nutcase at least as far back as 11 years ago.)
Once upon a time, in a lifetime faraway, my grandfather owned a diner. From the days of my earliest memories, Pop ran the diner. He rose at 4:30 every morning, without an alarm clock. He started the grills, warmed up the dishwasher, and welcomed the first customers at 6 AM. This was who he was. He made up for it with a daily nap in his downstairs office most afternoons.
For this week’s Throwback Thursday, let’s go eight years back to an old blog post… which will then take us even farther back.
It’s one of several flowers that have bloomed on my jasmine plant over the last few days. I walked into the kitchen and thought, What is that awesome smell? The whole room smelled good! (This may also have been due to the fact that I finally took the garbage out earlier that day.)
Long, long ago, in one of those lifetime-ago periods of my life, back in the last century, actually, a girl that I was seeing gave me a similar plant. I was newly divorced. This girl thought she would liven up my home by filling it with plants. Rubber plants. Aloes. Philodendron. A lot of the typical houseplants. And there was a jasmine plant, which was very popular in the country where she grew up, but called by a different name there. There was much ado about that plant. It was meant to be the queen among all the lesser plants that then occupied my home. I was fine with that because it smelled fantastic! It had a scent that lifted one’s spirits. Beautiful.
An interesting thing about the jasmine flower: it lasts for not more than 24 hours once it blooms. Its fragrance is kept completely secret as the blossom matures. Then when it opens it spreads forth such a scent. It is a gloriously white flower with a soft texture. It is pretty to both the eyes and the nose. But the day after it blooms, its color begins to turn a pale pink. It withers. Falls to the ground. There is no longer any fragrance. It is sheer delight, then gone.
One day, the girl got mad at me. She took back the jasmine plant. She clutched it in her arms and said, “I don’t trust you with this plant. You would probably kill it.” She left. Eventually she faded. I don’t remember her scent.
One day, another day, I came home to find the rest of the houseplants gnawed down to stumps in their pots. Dirt was everywhere. This caused me some consternation as no one had been in the house all day. Later, I discovered what annihilated my plants: A RAT!
There’s really no analogy in the rat part of this story like there is in the jasmine part. Other than that maybe it was a sign that I was living in a real shithole and needed to move. Which I did. Quickly.
Then, one day, another day, a couple of years down the road, I found a plant with pretty white flowers in a garden store. “Jasmine? I once knew you by another name.”
I bought the plant. No one can take it back. That makes it all the more enjoyable.
I was eating lunch in a diner today – because that’s what we people in Jersey are known for: eating in diners. It was my escape from the stress of the office. I thought I would do a little journal writing, a little reading, enjoy a cup of soup and a sandwich (which ended up being lentil soup and a chicken fajita wrap – with fries (see my last post about stress eating before you bitch me out for indulging in fries)).
Did you notice that parentheses with parentheses thing there? Is that permissible in writing? I mean, I do it all the time in my work as a programmer, aka: “developer,” aka: “software engineer,” aka: “FREAKING MASTERMIND GENIUS!” Not to be referred to as a “coder.”
return(“Bitch, please! That’s like calling a runner a jogger!”);
Back to what I started with…
So, I was sitting at my table at the diner, nursing a Diet Coke (aka: schlepping my brain with aspartame), and I heard a woman at the next table say,
“You just have to make it through this life. Then everything will be okay.”
Now wait a minute! What kind of empty platitude was that? It inferred that “this life” is merely something to be endured, something to be weathered. Just lean into the wind and keep your eyes closed against the rain. It will all be over soon and then everything will be okay. That also assumed a lot about the afterlife, assuming there is an afterlife. Her statement contained as much dogma as the proclamations of the most radical religious zealot, with flippancy in place of fervency. THAT was faith: stating an eternal premise without a note of hesitation or a flicker of thought.
And what was the person possibly suffering through to whom she was offering this pithiness, who, I realized when I looked up, was on the other end of the phone into which the lunchtime philosopher was speaking? Cancer? Betrayal? Poverty? Good God! Maybe the trials and tribulations of old Job had revisited this poor soul! How harsh and hopeless was their condition that the only consolation that could be offered was, “You just have to make it through this life?” I couldn’t help but feel a measure of sympathy for this person.
Do you know what she said next? After the person on the phone spoke and she listened, presumably… after I waited in suspense and rehearsed all the tragedies listed in the above paragraph… after my lentil-filled spoon stopped in mid-air before my open mouth…
“Ok. So, I’d like to make an appointment for a mani-pedi. For two people. Thank you.”
Oh, come on! Jesus Christ, lady! You were on the phone with a nail salon?! (No, that’s not using his name in vain! I mean that as a prayer! Because SOMEBODY needs to straighten out this woman’s view of life and death and compassion! I mean, Jesus Christ!)
Well, that revelation demanded a reassessment of my beliefs about the suffering of old Job on the other end of the phone line. Cancer was quickly replaced by human trafficking. Poverty was usurped by money laundering. Heartbreak was displaced by prostitution.
I shook my head and thought, I just need to make it through this life. Then everything will be okay. Because, Jesus Christ willing, there won’t be any stupid people there! And if there is lentil soup on the menu, that will be paradise!
In keeping with the current “Throwback Thursday” theme that is all the rage with the kids these days, here is my contribution: a (true) story I wrote in 2001, thirteen years ago! (Did I really just say 13 years?)
Even though it was written after the internet was well on its way to being a ubiquitous staple of everyday modern life, this story is showing some signs of age, a little rust here and there. For instance, iPods were not invented and CDs were still all the rage. (A little Googling revealed that the first iPods hit the market in October of 2001.) Also, this gem of a story hit the internet 2 1/2 years before MySpace opened its doors and 3 years before Facebook began its intended world domination. (What’s MySpace?) This story was published during the era of “online journals.” We didn’t have “blogs.” Blogs didn’t catch on until after some of us toyed around with “weblogs” first. Same difference, “blog” just sounds cuter. There was Diaryland back then, a site were you could sign up for a free online diary. It was pretty basic and you had to “host” your images elsewhere. But there are some of us still around who went hardcore and built our own websites. We told our stories, recounted our days. We made image galleries, resizing photos and making thumbnails and html pages and we “ftp’ed” all of it to our servers (for which we either paid a monthly fee or we got free hosting, for which we had to tolerate ads on the headers and footers of all our pages). Facebook has combined all that and, unfortunately, has conditioned (reduced) us into primarily writing brief statuses and witty comments. Who writes stories online anymore? Who has the attention span to read them?
But, you know what? All that great stuff aside. Growing up, what the hell was an internet? Who thought about the “World Wide Web” in 1975, except the Army? Who cared about computers? We had bikes, and footballs, and BB guns, and the outdoors, and imaginations. And, as a rite of passage into our teenage years, we all discovered the true opiate of the masses: Rock-n-roll.
I want to go back! I will willingly turn in my iPhone, walk away from the entire internet without even glancing over my shoulder, hand write all my letters for now on, if… if you will let me go back to those years when I first discovered rock music. I don’t want to go all the way back to the days of GI Joes and playing hide and seek. Not that far back. Just back to the days when I first grew my hair long (when it was still an act of rebellion), when girls lost their cooties and became the most intriguing of God’s creatures, and Led Zepellin had just released “Stairway to Heaven,” and the sound of electric guitars and drums brought me to life. I want to go THERE.
This story from January 30, 2001 is about the beginning of those days for my cousin, Patrick, and me. I miss those days. I miss my cousin. (And some of the trouble we got into.) This story is a reminiscence of those days.
I'm doing the Running with the Devil race again this year. I've been concerned about not being ready for the heat of that race. Seeing as the race is held on ski slopes, there isn't much shade to be found. I'll have three hours to go up and down the slopes (a 3-mile course) as many times as I Continue Reading →
(Originally posted on the website Heron Flight) PRESIDENTS Kneeling roses disappearing into Moses' dry mouth Breaking into Fort Knox stealing Our intentions Hangers sitting dripped in oil Crying freedom Handed to obsoletion Still you feed us lies from the tablecloth Everybody's going to the party Have a real good time Dancing in the desert, blowing up the sunshine Everybody's going Continue Reading →
(Originally posted on the website Continuum...) Zero, zip, zilch... That’s how much I’m writing tonight. I’m tired. I have pneumonia. I don’t feel like writing. I think I’ll watch a movie instead. Maybe I’ll watch "Pulp Fiction" since I’m in a Tarantino mood after watching "Kill Bill 1" with my friend Suzy today. Actually, what I’m doing is cheating. Continue Reading →
(Originally posted on the website Continuum...) A few days ago I wrote about my neighbor's beautiful, well-kept lawn. Look what happened! A whole crowd came to see! Actually, our little town had a Memorial Day parade today. The parade participants gathered at our end of the main street before the parade began. Soon there were all kinds of people on Continue Reading →