Is anyone sitting here?

Sitting in the coffee shop

by myself… with three empty chairs

a woman comes by and asks Is anyone sitting here?

I said no and then she took the chair.

 

by myself with two empty chairs

a man comes by and asks is anyone sitting here?

I said no and then he took the chair.

 

by myself ..with one empty chair.

another woman comes by and says is anyone sitting here?

I said no and she took the chair.

 

Now Just By Myself. With no more chairs.

Is anyone sitting here..?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barbed Wire Soul

You know as I continue to watch this ridiculous political race unfold in front of my eyes and continue to watch the way the world is going I  continue to kind of scratch my head and say why?  Why?  You know growing up,  I always kind of felt like when everyone else was admiring someone I was the only one admiring the other guy. I never liked the role models my friends liked;  I was different that way. But there was a underlining thread in my role models. they were usually  honest, had integrity and they were usually the underdogs. I feel the same way now.

“If there is a hard, high wall and an egg that breaks against it, no matter how right the wall or how wrong the egg, I will stand on the side of the egg. Why? Because each of us is an egg, a unique soul enclosed in a fragile egg. Each of us is confronting a high wall. The high wall is the system which forces us to do the things we would not ordinarily see fit to do as individuals . . . We are all human beings, individuals, fragile eggs. We have no hope against the wall: it’s too high, too dark, too cold. To fight the wall, we must join our souls together for warmth, strength. We must not let the system control us — create who we are. It is we who created the system. (Jerusalem Prize acceptance speech, JERUSALEM POST, Feb. 15, 2009)”

I look at what America puts on a pedestal. It seems like we want shallow, we want liars, we want vacant. I don’t get it. I have to be honest, I felt hope with Barack Obama. I thought it was a step in the right direction. I still feel that way. I think OUR country needed Barack and Michele and I think the African-American citizens  needed Barack and Michele. Why are we going backwards?

Why is this country so shallow? Why is this country so ready to praise the Kardashians and all this nonsensical reality stars or the Trumps of the world. Why are they media’s sweethearts? And nothing against the Kardashians but why are these people even in demand. I don’t get it. Why is the media talking about the Kardashians every day? Big Business?  Why is Trump in a presidential race.? He is a known racist and misogynist. He isn’t good, he isn’t a leader. Why would ANY woman VOTE for that? I know the world is corrupt but the people of this country could make a difference. Why are we dumbing down our country. I mean I guess our country is probably the most informed it has ever been because of the ability to share information so quickly and wide spread so I get that. But why is the media feeding us such bullshit. I feel like we are the watered down USA. It reminds me of when the waitress in you local diner waters down the catsup  and thinks no one notices.

So as I was watching the debate I kept thinking of something I read a while back. One of my favorite movies is HUD, with Paul Newman. This was one of the few times Paul played a really bad guy. No Morals. The tag line was A man with the barbed wire soul. Melvyn Douglas played his father.

paul_newman_and_melvyn_douglas_hud

I will never forget what Melvyn Douglas said to his son. It was heartbreaking but it was memorable. https://youtu.be/1gVa4FAikBghttps

You don’t care about people Hud. You don’t give a damn about ’em. Oh, you got all that charm goin’ for ya. And it makes the youngsters want to be like ya. That’s the shame of it because you don’t value anything. You don’t respect nothing. You keep no check on your appetites at all. You live just for yourself. And that makes you not fit to live with. 

Little by little the look of the country changes because of the men we admire. You’re just going to have to make up your own mind one day about what’s right and wrong. — Homer Bannon.

Sounds Familiar. Why do we continue to put the bad guys on a pedestal? Why do we continue to admire them?

Even Paul Newman was surprised that so many young men had posters of Hud in their rooms after the movie came out. He couldn’t  understand the admiration HUD received  from the movie goers.  He actually was quite spooked by it.Why would they love a guy that was a cad, a narcissist, a Liar, dishonest and a rapist! Paul Newman said he didn’t like it at all. It was unsettling to him.

Even in the Movie Midnight Cowboy Jon Voight had a picture of Hud Bannon in his room.He was admiring himself in the mirror with Hud as inspiration. Maybe that was a telling scene since Jon Voight continues to endorse and side with Trump. Hmm.

Anyhow it always stuck with me. Little by little the country changes because of the men we admire. Still rings true.

1969-midnight-cowboy-02

hud

 

 

My Northstar

 

 

As the long dark days and nights went by

you were there.

The lonely days only a special child could bear.

you were there.

A single light in the darkness.

you were there.

I knew you understood…

from the kind eyes you had.

from the big heart you had.

from the sadness in that smile you had.

from the soft whisper in your voice, when you spoke.

you were there.

when lost like mangled driftwood in the sea

you were there.

A guide, high in the sky… you were there.

My North star

You were there.

jml

 

 

 

 

Deflated

I was thinking a lot about my dad recently. I go thru periods where I think of him constantly and then I can go weeks without thinking about him at all. If you told me that ten years ago I would have told you that you were crazy. I guess I get caught up in the day to day business of living. I am  always so surprised that I don’t dream about him more. I always thought he would show up in my dreams more. It’s funny how our dreams work. I don’t understand them. They are so random and bizarre. I never dream about the people I love , why is that?  Anyway I was thinking about the blog I wrote called Monsoon in Chinatown; a letter to my father. I wrote that years ago after he died. It was an exercise to help me get over his death.  I posted it below in a previous post. I was told by a therapist it might help to write him a goodbye letter. So I did. It was a long private letter but I posted part of it. I never spoke about the day he died but It was the worst day of my 38  years of living. I felt like writing about it today. I remember being depressed, vacant, sick, scared and well not very present. I was there but I wasn’t there. I think somehow my brain couldn’t handle all the emotion so it shut off. I wasn’t myself and I was somewhere inside myself. I felt like a turtle who went back into it’s shell. I know this seemed distant and selfish to others but I couldn’t be any different at that time.. My brain was in charge. I was who I was then. My life was in shambles and this was the Main Event.

I  went to my parents house on New Years Day, my dad was still with us. I was living by myself and had slept at my apartment the night before. I would have been there already but my biological relatives invited me to go out for New Years Eve. I didn’t want to go but my mom told me to go. I had just found my biological Aunt and she asked me to spend New Years Eve with her and the family. I went. I had been spending a lot of time at my parents house when I wasn’t working watching my father wither away. It was the holidays and I think my mom thought I needed a break so she told me to go out and have fun so I went.

Have fun, what a strange thought.

I was so happy to find my biological  relatives but it was such a bad time for it to happen. I wasn’t in a good place. For many different reasons.

I had spent Christmas Eve sitting with my dad thinking he would pass…but he didn’t. The Christmas Eve I will never forget. It was me and my mom and two of her friends there in the house that night. I was sitting with my dad in his room and we watched the Christmas Story together. That was the last thing we did before he slipped into a coma. In fact the last thing he said to me was a line out of that movie. He was repeating  one of the lines out of the movie over and over.  I can’t watch Christmas story anymore without reliving that night.

I would doze off and wake to his thin frail bony frame staring at me over the railing of the bed. I don’t know if he knew I was there but I think he did. As I was sitting there with him I heard something down the street like singing. I figured it was Christmas Carol Singers so I looked out the window behind my father’s death bed to find about fifty or so people walking up the street. They were holding lit candles and singing. Next thing I knew they were in the house. The minister of my fathers and mothers church came in between Christmas service with half the church behind him. They were all holding candles. It was like one of those sappy  hallmark movies. They loved my dad, the minister loved my dad, the congregation loved my dad, everyone loved my dad. if dad couldn’t be at church the church would come to dad.

I left my dad’s side and went downstairs to be with my mom and all these people who so kindly came to pay their last respects. The minster and his flock.  My mom let them in and as they filed into our small house singing they formed a crescent in the living room and held hands.  My mom stood there with the poise and strength that her generation seems to have mastered. She was the perfect host; kept her game face on for those divine people while I melted. I couldn’t hold it together and it took every molecule of my being not cry out loud. I could feel eyes on me with their kind sympathy.  My mom on the other hand was a strong upright force that was there for them as not to make them feel uncomfortable. I will never forget the look on her face when we all prayed. Her strength was at its glorious best. She was in the hands of her god.

After the prayers had been said and the songs had been sung they left, the candles burned down and there was one more Christmas Eve sermon to be given and they had to get back. I went back upstairs to sit with my dad, my daddy, my best friend.  He made it to Christmas day. In fact he made it all the way to New Years Day. I spent the New years Eve with my new Aunt and her family and then went back to my apartment.  I came back New Years Day morning to be with my mom and my dad, I was depleted emotionally, tired and totally spent as we all were. I went up to see him and then I went back downstairs.  I remember I was watching the twilight zone so as not to think, trying to distract myself from the pain that was all around me. The craziest thing happened. My favorite twilight zone show came on the TV. The reason it is so crazy is because it’s the one with young Robert Redford when he plays the Grim Reaper. That was such a rare show that they never played. It was one of those 24 hour twilight zone marathons that they do on New Years Day .  As I was watching the Charming Redford as the grim reaper conning that poor old lady, my mom came down the stairs crying and told me he was gone. I ran back up to him and watched my mom finally break down. Her life partner for fifty years or so is gone.  I called the funeral home and whomever else I was supposed to call. I watched Mark, the flustered and devastated minister knock on our neighbor’s door before he realized he was at the wrong house.  He was there minutes after my dad passed to help console us. After a while my sisters started to show up with their husbands.

He finally left us on New Years Day and he waited till I got there. I was so glad I was there. Mom thinks he waited to New Years day so that she would get an extra year of his work benefits. I knew he wasn’t ready to die. He was 73, he wanted to enjoy his grandchildren, he wasn’t ready. I saw the looks on his face as he was dying. He knew the cancer had spread all over his body and even though he NEVER complained in the six months he got the cancer and died from it; he couldn’t hide his disappointment from me.

Everything happened quickly, the Hearst showed up from the funeral home and took him away. My sisters were consoling my mom and I was back in my turtle shell. I was in shock I think. After  a while reality sunk in and I had to go back home, My mom wanted to be alone and I had to get ready for the funeral.

I went outside to drive home and as I walked outside I realized my tires were completely deflated. Someone cut my tires on the day that my dad died. Are you kidding me? I just stood there looking at my tires in a state of shock.

Was I really going to have to get my tires fixed on the day I lost my father. I guess so. No one was offering to help so here it is. It is already starting. The one person that would have helped me with my car was gone. After staring at my car for what seemed like an hour.. I had my god damn deflated car towed down to the tire place and got my car fixed.

At that moment I never felt so alone.

I was in the waiting room waiting while they put new tires onto my car. They were not fixable.

There was a woman and child waiting with me in the waiting room and the child kept crying. I felt like I was in a nightmare. My nerves were shot, the child’s screams were killing me.

Then the guy at the desk decided to make a pass at me. WTF…like some kind of sleazy offer with a wink. I remember thinking  if there is a hell I am in it right now. yes..This is definitely hell.

My tires were fixed and I went back to my apartment alone and there I sat ….still.

Thinking about my mom, my dad, what was to become of all of this.

Yes, that was the worst day of my life.

Knowing then that it was also the first day of the rest of my life, a life that would never be the same without him.

 

 

 

The Absence of Love

Sometimes the Absence of Love can make us understand it even more. Like the negative of a old photograph, we see it from a different perspective, if you strip away the color sometimes you can find the light. -JML

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Women in Town

The other night I stopped to get some beverages at the local convenience store and two women decided that they wanted to start a fight with me. They kind of parked behind me and waited for me to come out so they could start some stuff. Whatever. They said something to me and seriously I was like really, were doing this?  I didn’t fight back, I blew it off but I wasn’t in the mood for their  bullshit.  I have never done anything cruel to anyone in my hometown but for some reason there is some serious hate coming my way. It is fine…I can handle it but you have to wonder why?

Now these two women didn’t say much but it was more about the way they insulted me  .. like they actually knew me. I didn’t know them. How dare them!. My anger grew as the night went on. Then I thought to myself how easy it would be to fight back and just maybe make a tragic mistake that could affect me and them for the rest our lives. That’s how it happens. It can be that quick. I am not a confrontational person and I am a non-violent person. I know myself. But they better watch out because you can start a fight with the wrong person and well..you never know. You here about Road rage all the time.

I always wondered how someone could get to that point where they would actually cross that line.  I would never kill anything or anyone but the anger I felt in that minute gave me the insight, I mean I would never hurt anyone intentionally,  I will always take the highroad and walk away but I am ashamed to say I fantasized about taking a knife and stabbing those two women in the neck.

Now it was just a harmless fantasy but it made me think about people and  how someone could lose themselves if enough shit happens to them over their lifetime. I remember thinking that no matter how hard I tried or how kind I was to people bad things kept happening to me.

Now there is a lot of great stuff happening too so I am so grateful for that.  I have now learned how to ignore the negative stuff and will not let it affect me anymore. My hard work has paid off and I know I am where I want to be. I was angry but I let it go fast.

I refuse to let it affect me anymore.

Every time I watch Dateline I sit there and wonder ..how the hell could she kill her husband like that or how could he kill his best friend like that? You know, it was always inconceivable for me.

I’ve thought about this often. It fascinates me and frightens me at the same time. The human condition I guess and how easily a life can change over one bad decision.

After I saw Eugene Oneill’s Play, Hughie, on Broadway I was reminded how much I love his work. I was always attracted to his plays because he wrote about people on the edge. The depressed, the addicted , the night people. The darkness of his work and the darkness of his own life always kept my interest. I went back and read some of his plays recently. I re-read his most popular play Long’s Day’s Journey into Night.  I even love that title and completely understand it.. There was a quote in that movie that I was familiar with but I think for the first time I really understood it to the fullest of its meaning.

“None of us can help the things life has done to us. They’re done before you realize it, and once they’re done they make you do other things until at last everything comes between you and what you’d like to be, and you’ve lost your true self forever.”
Eugene O’Neill, Long Day’s Journey Into Night   

The saddest 48 words ever spoke in my opinion …. but nothing could be truer. I know this happens to a lot of people and they have no idea how it happened. It’s like a rolling avalanche, once it starts moving you can’t stop it and it keeps destroying everything in its path. That very thing almost happened to me; losing yourself forever; but a little luck, strength and resistance was the key for me and so I was saved. I remember thinking how did I get here? This isn’t who I am. For some there is a turning point and they are saved, for others there is a turning point of no return. My heart breaks for the latter.

I understand how easy it is to end up there.  The unfortunates in the world, prone to addiction or mental illness or violence or bad luck.

Maybe they were born poor or have no family. Maybe they were abused and cast out into the night. Maybe they just made one bad decision. Maybe they trusted the wrong person. Some people have to pay for that one bad decision for the rest of their life.

That breaks my heart. I can’t help but think about them. It reminds me of a movie  I love called Two Men In Town.

It takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I think it’s a great movie with a powerful message. Forest Whitaker and Harvey Keitel are reunited again in this film, whenever they work together poetry happens.

I loved them both in the movie Smoke. Harvey Keitel was a cigar shop owner and a Poet in his spare time. He took a photograph of the corner where his store was located every day at the exact same time of the day, every day.  He kept a photo album of his life’s work. I loved that. So Poetic. Great Movie.

Anyway in Two Men in Town Forest’s character (William Garnet) was a murderer who got out of prison after 18 years of serving his sentence.

He was model inmate that tried very hard to control his anger and become a peaceful person. Forest Whitaker was incredible in this movie by the way. I saw it when it first came out but watched it again recently….a few times. I know I’m a super fan but no one can deny the brilliance of his performance in this movie. There was also this bad ass parole officer Emily Smith…I loved her in this film. Imagine this scene..so she sits listening to I think , Edith Piaf,   while cleaning her guns in the desert night under the stars. That was probably a nod to the French Director; Rachid Bouchareb in this movie.

That scene sets the precedent for the whole film. Dark vs. Light, Good vs. Evil, Love vs. Hate, Beauty Vs. Beast. She was the female heroine trying to help Garnet through the whole movie. A tough but fair ethical parole officer with a heart. Brenda Blethyn was the actress. I also loved her in the movie Secrets and Lies; another great movie. She is an incredible actress.  So like I said, the movie takes place in Albuquerque New Mexico. Some scenes are breathtaking while others are just dust and ashes.

Walls and Borders are a big part of this movie too; geographical borders and emotional borders.

After Garnet served his 18 years sentence the sheriff (Harvey Keitel) in town wouldn’t let Garnet alone. He had an old score to settle with Garnet and had no forgiveness towards him. The sheriff kept harassing him, and no matter how hard Garnet tried to turn his life around Agati ( Keitel) was there to derail him every time.

Every step forward was a step back. The heartbreaking scene between Garnet and his adoptive mother (Ellen Burstyn) is heart wrenching. While she speaks with a almost detached and disappointed voice about a scorpion that was loose in the house (symbolism) I understood Garnet’s frustration because he just wanted his mother’s love; love she couldn’t afford to give.

This movie makes a huge statement about redemption over a Dark Past and  working toward New Beginnings. It seems we don’t like to let people have new beginnings. We don’t like to let people forget their past. For example; We don’t let prisoners have a second chance in this country. We let them out with no money and let them fend for themselves. It’s tragic on so many levels because so many prisoners are locked away too long and the crime doesn’t fit the punishment in the first place. It seems to be getting even worse in this country . People are going to Jail for thirty years for minor Crimes because of Corrupt judicial system. Three strikes your out? There is Big Business in putting folks in prison now a days. The increasing stats are overwhelming.  It is very sad and unjust. The song Let my people go comes to mind, Paul Robeson https://youtu.be/gtLcELU1brA

There is a lot of symbolism in this movie as Garnet washes his hands of the past. Not letting someone start again, and live their life is a sin. You can watch the movie and no matter what your beliefs are about prisoners and murder you have to appreciate this well-acted story about new beginnings, redemption, and the tug of war between good and evil.

So..when those two women in town started with me at the convenience store it reminded me of a fight I got in when I was about ten years old. Now that I am back in my home town I am reminded of childhood memories. You can’t help it, there are reminders everywhere. So I was ten and me and my best friend were walking down to the same store that I was just talking about. It had just snowed and my friend had a snow pants on. I was dressed in jeans, These two girls, older but still girls, bullies, started to make fun of my friend in the snow pants. Back then snow pants weren’t cool at all. lol.

Well I thought it was important to protect my friend ( I am very loyal) so I told them to stop and to leave us alone. Well because I spoke out they decided to turn their attention to me and  left my friend alone. They then started to jump me and I remember them slamming my face down into the snow and punched me a couple of times. I heard my friend start to cry  because she got scared because she saw blood. My nose started to bleed and there were little rivers of blood oozing into the snow…like a bloody snow cone. The two girls saw the blood and they got scared as well and ran off. I still know one of the girls names. I ended up working with her at a restaurant when I was sixteen and she played on the same softball team as well, she picked on me there too but decided after a while that she liked me and left me alone. God, I couldn’t get away from her.

The other night when those two women in town started fighting with me in that parking lot it reminded me of that day in the snow, I was ten again and I had a bloody nose. The snow was red and my face was covered in ice. Its funny the things we hold onto. I could have fought back or even went further and caused physical harm. My life could be changed in an instant. So when I got home I decided to write some words down to shake off the anger I was feeling, first I vented to my friend, god bless her…and then wrote a poem about how I feel about some of the people I have come across recently. Anger is something I’ve had to deal with and try to minimize. It has been a work in progress but I think I have mastered it. I am sick of being accused of things I never did. I am sick of being mistreated. I am sick of being patronized and  I am sick of being misunderstood but I know how lucky I am to be here to write, love, work , sing and laugh. I am making my comeback. My turning point was in the direction of up; not down and I am so grateful for that. Don’t look back don’t look back don’t look back, only forward. The ten-year old is now fifty looking forward to love and light. Your perceptions of me cannot and does not matter anymore. I am only feeling the love coming towards me, the rest will be ignored, no more anger, no more violent fantasies.. only love and light. I can no longer care about the big hoofed herds and their opinions of me. They are wrong but I know longer need their approval. I will only let the light come in. I have washed my hands of the past, scrubbed them clean.

 

 

Blue-Collar Asylum

 

Small town Small minds Mean Bastard Bigots of all the same kind.
Can’t wait to leave, don’t want to stay, born here but not from here, always on my way. Gossips liars and fakes walk the streets in big hoofed herds. Spreading their truth , their so called motherfucking righteous gospel word.
They act high-superior while their insides slow—ly die.

Living their Inauthentic miserable cookie cutter lives.
They Sound the same Look the same …Smoke their Marlboro cigs.
High School, Marry, Buy a house2.5 kids.
Drink your Beer, Vote for Trump, Drink the worm at the bottom of the Rum
I need To leave, I can’t breathe here, it’s a small town Blue-Collar Asy-lum.

 

Jloz.