Big Breath

I was being mindful.

I took a deep breath. It was full. Full of brightness. Full of late Spring. Full of fresh spice and basil and grass clippings and the secret sulfur of lighting bugs. Because there has to be a scent that accompanies those blue yellow sparks.

I took that deep breath. After my Yin class. I take that class on Friday at six. (Except if I have a drinking date.)

I take that class to take all the sit out of my ass. That solid compression that is the spring coiled. But not coiled to spring. Coiled to set. That which needs to be undone.

So, (if I’m not boozing early), I work to fold into shapes that I hold for eight to nine minutes. Shapes that I’m supposed to surrender to. And shapes, that through and with my breath, I push away thinkings. Of the week. Of my weakness. This is a battle. I believe I’m at stalemate. But I try.

And now I’m on my back porch. After that class. After cooking that beautiful trout. After drinking more of that Cave de Lugny than The Spouse. And I took that big deep breath. It was a big breath.

The breath of contentment. The breath of gratitude. The breath that exhaled lightness because there was no oppressive heat or humidity. That breath that was truly deep, and natural, and of bright green flora, of freshly spayed dirt. And that was grounding.

And as I took that delicious and nourishing breath in through my nose and, just before I welcomed it into my lungs, a huge moth hit my right cheek.

It was huge. At least it felt huge. My right hand raised to swipe it away. And my breath, that beautiful and perfect breath, receded early. Too early. And I’ll have to try it again.

I did. And, now, there is rain on the horizon. I can smell the ozone. I can smell the earth. And it’s heavier than the other try.

But it is still beautiful.

OOO (Out of Office)

The words

Just before I left the office today, I set an autoresponse for my email. So when someone emails me at work they get a response from me. But not from me. They get a form letter. It tells them that I am outta here until the New Year.

And, yet, I’m stymied by the idea or a new year. I get that we need edges and that we need to group things because that’s what us humans do, blah blah blah. But on the other hand, isn’t it random that we all get together and agree that we are starting a new set of counting days in about nine days–if you’re counting?

C’mon. We can’t agree that we should minimize greenhouse gasses so polar bears don’t die–and almost all of us love polar bears.

Ultimately, I think that it’s most important to remember that the “year” is a convenient marker of time. Not a harbinger of what is to be.

Shade Friday

The beast. A bit too relaxed. On the couch.

I didn’t go shopping today. In fact I don’t know anyone who did. But that could just be because I stayed close to home.

I rolled out of bed and made some coffee. We have three different coffees available. I knew it would be a volume day, so I used the grocery ground. It is too fine for the french press, but so be it. It was the first of three pots this morning. Know well that I shared.

I finished the book that I began a few weeks ago. Remind me to never again read a dystopian novel around election time. I think I read too much into it.

I went to the post office. I asked the Big Guy if he wanted anything there. He said, “some stamps.” And then doubled over with laughter, as if he would ever use a stamp.

I mailed my niece her birthday present. Her birthday was in July. She’s a baby. She doesn’t know any better. I told the woman at the post office that I bet she’d get her Christmas present by her next birthday. We both thought that was funny.

I held the door for a man as I was leaving the post office. He wouldn’t look at me. I motioned for him to walk through. He looked away as he told me he could hold the door for himself. I let the door go. As I walked down the steps to the sidewalk, a man on the other side of the handrail told me that I could hold the door open for him, any day. I took that as a compliment.

I ate a piece of pizza. It had more things on it than I generally eat. There was pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, olives and sausage. Truthfully? It was excellent. After all that I ate yesterday, you’d think I would be full, but I just wanted to eat more. I stopped at one piece, though. Seems like I was exhibiting moderation.

I drank a can of Dr. Pepper. It wasn’t even diet. Full-sugar baby. I love Dr. Pepper. And the sweet effervescence encouraged a most amazing belch, from the depths of my belly, traversing my esophagus, out of my mouth and through my nose at the same time. Baby Bear looked up. He was quite impressed.

I decided it was now the Christmas season. I asked Alexa to play some Christmas music and she obliged with Charlie Brown’s Christmas and Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole and Brenda Lee rocking around the Christmas tree. Damn that Alexa, she totally gets me.

I tried to get The Beast to relax. Wait. No. He was relaxed. Me too.

And that’s how I do me some Black Friday. Easy.

Feed Your Head

Guitar playing at a party. It was fun.

Oh jeez. It was the damn Olds again.

They’re the ones that throw the parties. They have the green. They cater the pulled pork and brisket and whatever else their food intolerant old friends require. But back to the pork and brisket. There’s coleslaw and super bacon-ey baked beans and the most decadent macaroni and cheese that was drawn from a secret pond by nymphs who loved butter and eggs and noodles and cheese and more cheese. And a bit more cheese.

There was salad, too, with ranch dressing and a gross mistake of a vinaigrette. The latter was only drizzled on the greens by the aforementioned food intolerant old friends of the Olds or by those who were late and found no ranch dressing left. But the latecomers didn’t really care. They may have been high.

The Olds relived their youths a bit by bringing on a keg or two. There was a half-barrel of Bud and a quarter-barrel of some fancy beer that tasted of tar and citrus rinds. Youth friends were grateful for the former. Olds’ friends were impressed by the latter but drank the former. It was lite.

Except for the females Olds. They drank “wine.” But it was so gross. It tasted of a time in a frigid midwestern winter when your tongue got stuck on the metal swingset or like a big bowl of berries that went bad and were tossed into a pile of loose tobacco or like something that tasted sweet going down but after a few too many clear plastic cupfuls came back up full of bitter bile.

Under the wooden beamed canopy at the party section of the state park, seated on the picnic table facing out, and with sneakers or work boots tapping on the concrete slab defining the social space, sat the uncle. Skinny and scraggly with black-rimmed glasses that would be considered hipster on a younger man and a camo colored trucker hat with a commercial symbol that none of the youths recognized, he had his guitar on his knee. He picked it fiercely and expertly, his thinning ponytail switching back and forth in time. His baby brother sat next to him.

The “baby” was almost six inches taller and was holding on to his hair. So far. His mustache was an impressive, slightly abbreviated, horseshoe. His guitar was on his knee. He hung back. His brother took the lead. Big brother leaned over to help his middle-aged sibling get his chords right. Honestly he had it, but his big brother always made him nervous. He could play much better without him, but his brother also made him play better.

It was a family event with live music. The music was played more for the sake of nostalgia, of the times when their entire family would pull out all types of instruments for the funnest jam session. Today, the draw of Dixie Chicken, Give Me Three Steps and Ring of Fire drew some of the guests like bugs swirling around a lamp. Not many, but those who fondly remembered the live music of their own juvenescence. They grinned, swigged from their solo cups and sang, too.

The Youths were doing their youthful things. Shotgunning beers, sneaking to the outskirts to smoke, eating more BBQ, throwing a sports ball and flirting.

The Olds continued to play.

The big baby brother shouted for his daughter. “We’re doing your song next.” Her mother skitted off to go find her. She was on the swingset. She was flirting. “Dad says your song is coming next.”

There was a worry, like it was live TV and they had to get another segment in before the commercial break. It was driven by the baby brother’s deference. His brother was the band leader, and he called the next song. Outsiders would not understand his anxiety. He really didn’t either, but he felt it.

She hurried but was not hurried as she grabbed her guitar case from underneath the picnic table. The “band” was on break, so she had enough time to fiddle with the knobs on the neck of her guitar. She handed the instrument to him. She could tune it, but he had the experience. After he was done, he double checked with his brother. No sour notes.

The skinny, scraggly man nodded then tapped his foot one, two, three, four and strummed the intro with a 4/4 beat. Three fingers, three strings along two frets. Fingers shifted for the next chord, and they were all in time. The leader looked up and signaled another round of intro and the dad translated the signal into words for his daughter. He didn’t need to, she knew to follow the band leader.

The brothers had been singing together for forty some years. They naturally harmonized, their intonations in sync. She brought a richness to the chorus with her strong alto. She weaved her voice in and around her father’s and then her uncle’s, holding her notes and joining their nasal twang as they drew out the words.

There was a baby in a stroller who clapped and gurgled along, his mother swaying back and forth, peaking into the pram and making big eyes and forming her mouth like a life saver. That was meant to encourage the baby. Grandma came and released the baby. She twirled him around. It was his first dance to live music.

The boy who was flirting with the daughter at the swingset sat on the top of a picnic table, keeping her in sight. The rest of the youths found themselves with fresh beers, singing along and throwing out requests to the “band.” And so the party tradition passed to another generation. Score one for the Olds. And the Youths.


We all did paintball that day. Including Larry and Elizabeth.

Dear Larry,

What the fcuk? Why did you insist on being “healthy” and do that working out crap? You KNOW that generationally we don’t do that. We grew up on canned peas salted so long they were gray, space food sticks and Tang®. Seriously, you should have known better.

It’s not like this new age exercise and artisanal food–in which onions and kale and blueberries run free–makes us healthier. It just costs more money. You know that, too.

Frankly, it’s bad enough you rejected our childhood staple, bologna, when you became a friggin vegetarian. Your Babcie would so not approve that you eschewed kielbasa for rice cakes. No dobrze.

There’s other ways to remain relevant. Ones that are more passive and include hamburgers. For example, remember we worked on music. You were a decent student. I hooked you up with those Kings of Leon tickets and introduced you to Queens of the Stone Age. Although you held stubbornly against my attempts to get you into hip hop. But there was hope. I had hope, anyway.

At least you got it right on raising kids. You loved them for them. You let them be them. You knew it wasn’t about you. They never had to seek your approval. Your daughters had your love. Period.

But you went on that fcuking treadmill. And you dropped dead.

I can say that to you. Because that’s what you would say. You were never full of bullshit. Even though you worked in a job that was full of bullshittery.

You did as good as anyone could, you stupid man. Your family was with you. I hope you knew that.

I guess that fcuking Union won. #FreeLarryOrluskie

It’s done. Goodbye friend.

Peace and love,

Apologies, Loyal Reader, if you find this tribute cryptic or unfathomable.
I could write nothing else after I heard. Today, I wrote for me, not you.