Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Water

At one point during the hot minute that Dane Cook was on top of the comedy world, he had a bit about knowing a cry was en route. I think today has been one of those moments, but right now it’s acting like that sneeze that just won’t come already.

            It’s the first heavy, summerish day of 2020 in Kansas City. I’m in my home that I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to stay in, the lingering threats of COVID-19 are looped around the ears of the face-masked, and American unrest rises by the hour with every heinous act committed by police officers and the stubborn, unchanging minds of so many who just can’t seem to shift their thinking by two millimeters.

            I’m about halfway through A Deeper Understanding by The War on Drugs, and via a shot in the dark, I’d say this is my 50th listen. This record serves as a kind of medicinal antithesis, and what a dose might do for an ailment seems to be the opposite with depression; your brain magnetizes to things that seem to only pull you in a step further.

            I’ve taken two naps today (one of which was in the same room my kids were watching something), and worried continuously across the week that my air-conditioning unit will vanish like a dying Jedi at any moment. From my dining-room-window view, an Amazon van slows but doesn’t stop.

            The shit is thick and so I turn to one of my only forms of healthy therapy and start the mower.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Dream Fiction no. 7: Raccoons & Fishermen

Had I done a better job, had I had the wherewithal at age 30, I would’ve better documented the Ireland trip, and in hindsight, some key experiences cry out from memory lane, lamenting the faintness of their existence in my mind. Fiddle-playing John Madden from Killarney will always burn the brightest, but the Portuguese fishermen in Dingle remain a close second.

            There’d been the aged what-the-crick bartender who held a fleeting residence in the romantic corner of my mind, and of course my girlfriend at the time, whom I’d eventually marry (and eventually divorce). I’ve never been able to take my mind off of those fishermen, though. Their fervid drinking, wind-chapped faces, and hands that resembled those of Oswald Cobblepot. That I thought for a moment that I could converse with them proved somewhat correct; I knew Spanish, but had never heard Portuguese. Hell, it had probably never even occurred to me that other versions (beyond Castilian) existed.

            This young brunette, Rachel, and her son, me and my kids along with Emily and Jaden, Tiffany and a friend of hers, and Customer Service Manager Mickie Hammer, all of us…holed up in my old room, along with my mom, and a few others…the lot of us crammed into a somewhat-dilapidated version of my mom’s old house. There were wind gaps and leaks, snow on the ground outside, a possum that’d repeatedly gotten in, and then there was the Ben Katz crew at 5:00 in the morning with their dog that bites a lot…the angry fashion in which I’d asked them to leave shortly after their arrival.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Album-Cover-a-Day Runners Up


             You’ve seen the album-cover-a-day challenge on Facebook. Maybe you’ve enjoyed them. Perhaps they annoyed you. You might’ve even participated.

            The rules are that you do it for 10 days and you can’t say anything about the records that the album art represents. No reviews, no nothing.

            A bit of the way into mine, my sister commented that she imagined it might be hard for me to only pick 10, to not review any of them. And she couldn’t’ve been righter. So much so that I’d already been concocting a list of the albums that -- for one reason or another -- didn’t make it in to my top 10.

            No one said you couldn’t make that list and review those albums. So that’s what this post is.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Mr. Completely

I sent her with soup and made a litmus-test joke. She had them clean and waiting for me. I'd forgotten them. They're home now.

"Hearts will billow when the dream, dream comes and it comes in to me"

-- Trey Anastasio, 

Kansas City International Airport

Somehow three months have slipped by since my last post.

            A lot has happened since then so it’s not been on account of laziness or disinterest. I mean, it’s mostly business as usual with the regular-life stuff: work is work, the kids are still sweet and good and busy, the house is, well, standing, I suppose. I’ve been editing a manuscript for a writer who plans to self-publish. My rec’-league hockey team is off to maybe its best start ever. The Blues are playing well and the Chiefs have a shot at clinching their fourth-straight division title this weekend. I’ve finally gotten consistent again with swimming a few times a week and while that’s great, I still need to ramp up the discipline to make three lifts a week happen. Baby steps, I guess.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Fatherhood, Part II

When my alarm sounded at 3:30 Mountain this morning, I felt mostly in control of my travel anxiety. All my clothes were washed, neatly folded in my suitcase, the contents of my carry-on tucked and zipped in their necessary compartments. I avoided snooze, had my morning pee, showered, shaved, and summoned an Uber.

            Richard and I made the appropriate amount of conversation for 4:15 a.m. and his Toyota Prius puttered along the Colorado freeway with efficiency. The security line was buzzing as usual at Denver International Airport, and once I was through it, off the train, and seated at my gate, I found myself purposelessly jumping in and out of apps on my phone. When I’d grown tired of this I looked up and noticed a woman across the aisle looking at me. I looked back down in what was likely a normal bit of social awkwardness, but was quick to return another glance when she spoke my name.

            “Lesley Speer,” she said. I jolted out of my chair, likely energized by the strange feeling I’d had in Richard’s Prius that I would run in to someone I know, which happens more often than not when flying to Denver from Kansas City, or in this case, the opposite.

            I sat with her for the 10 minutes or so until it was my turn to get in to the Southwest Airlines’ numerical-order line, and -- the flight being at capacity -- that was the end of our exchange. I’d already downloaded a podcast that was nearly the exact duration of the flight, and as we prepared to taxi, I snorted at the preview for the upcoming Between Two Ferns. I repeated my out-loud chuckles as I consumed the podcast, and probably made the couple sitting next to me think I was a little bizarre.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Dream Fiction no. 6: The Janky Pontiac & the Soaked Tuxedo

When Phil and Jennie’s big day’d arrived, my anxiety had reached a pinnacle that likely rivaled their excitement. Their private ceremony, now six weeks in the rearview, along with its 25-person guest list, had carried the energy back to the grind with everyone, but had never waned. Not even, or so it seemed, when it came to me living in their newlywed space for the duration.

            The three of us had managed to avoid toe-stepping in Phil and I’s old East Fourth Avenue pad, but I’d only wound up staying there by accident: car troubles, coupled with their wild generosity, had landed me back in my old college bedroom. The time had come, though, for the party to happen, for my exit to springboard them into their real life of marital bliss.

            There was, of course, the matter of my ’88 LeMans, and whether or not the suffocated-by-faulty-exhaust engine would be able to get me from the San Juans back to the Front Range. The brakes still had enough life in them to get me down the mountain passes; summiting them, though, was a different story.

            At least the heat and the stereo still worked.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Freewriting: Black Pants

            You came to me in a work setting and we were bound by circumstances. Well, at least I think we were. I know I was. And even though it was a lifetime ago I can still remember those black pants. They were over there. By the copy machine. You rooted through the file folders and they were on you, calling to me in a whisper so loud I scanned the room twice, unsure if others’d heard.

            Across a handful of months we crossed paths from time to time, never without mutual smiles. Seeing your name on the computer always brightened my day and the few live conversations we had I cherished. You were good at your job, I think, but that wasn’t why; our dialogue always turned my motivation on its head.

            After a time I was gone and the same would soon be true for you, too, both of us returning to the grinds from which we came. And the tiniest connection we had evaporated into the skies of our respective lives.

            Trying to quantify everything that has transpired since feels like an attempt to assess your cloud-flanked altitude before the pilot announces it. There’s just…too much of everything.