I feel like a raindrop over a waterfall – Kenny Chesney

Sorry Mr. Chesney but that lyric is lame. The Flake quoted it to me, not because he was feeling introspective but because that’s the song playing through his speaker at the moment. I can relate to that feeling of insignificance but a raindrop over a waterfall becomes part of the waterfall, something bigger than itself. Offering an alternative perspective to someone who may or may not be listening and may or may not ever suffer from feelings of insignificance.

I told him “goodnight and I miss you. Or maybe I just miss the idea of you” Because how can I miss what I never had?

Is this week of sleepless nights, heightened aches and bouts of hopelessness a result of my body struggling with hormones or a keto diet? Maybe both. My mind feels like a butterknife. My body an uncooperative, aged machine.

Sharing conflicting knowledge and personal experiences with Hashimotos and hypothyroid sufferers in a keto group in social media, I lament, in addition to the challenging dietary restrictions of keto, we must also limit our dairy and cruciferous vegetable intake? My staples are broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, cheese… what CAN we eat? A woman replied “I heard we can have ice cubes”. I laughed heartily at that one. Frustrating but funny!

I also officially took a Hiatus from the samba troupe. They scheduled a publicity photo shoot for the group which I knew was coming. I told them I had hoped to be in better physical shape by the time it came up but that hasn’t happened. I admitted to them that
being excluded because of my size still bothers me and I’ve decided to temporarily pack up my feathers along with the rest of my wardrobe that I haven’t been able to part with since my relapse. I told them thanks for letting me hang but I’m just going to dance with my clothes on in the meantime. What I didn’t admit was that I was not going to subject myself to a photographer who would try to hide the big girl in the back or under a feather fan.

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The dragon has three heads…

That was always something that stuck with me from GRRM’s books and yet has it been mentioned at all in the series? I simply do not recall. Is it not as important as I thought it was? I assumed it meant three Riders: Dany and Jon  (as Targaryens) but who was the 3rd? The Knight King? We know now from the series that he was once a man, turned White Walker by the Childrenof the Forrest but was he also a Targaryen? Does that matter? 

I love formulating theories about GoT now that the show has overtaken the books. The show writers love foreshadowing, I’ve noticed. So my theory is Tyrion is going to die in the finale protecting his Queen from his sister. Dany has those moments (quite a few of them this season) where she openly doubts Tyrion’s loyalty to her over his family. Even when he’s literally crying for her not to take action which could get her killed. And she tells him he’s not a hero. Of course he is! And he loves her (although maybe not romantically) just as much as those other heroes Dany mentions. So my theory is for the finale: Cersei will try to kill Dany and Tyrion will prevent it at the cost of his own life. Cersei may not even die this season. But someone will and I’m afraid beloved Tyrion (who in many ways is the “Daryl Dixon” of GoT) will be the season’s big loss, more so even than a dragon. 
…Or Dani dies and Jon inherits the throne and 2 Orphan dragons. That removes the pesky nagging incest issue (because deep down, we all want to see them hook up) and it plays into potential foreshadowing through Tyrion’s growing concern about succession.

But even if Dany dies, we might expect the Red God to bring her back just as he did with Jon. But that would be too simple and what purpose does it serve if only one Targaryen is needed to rule and defeat the night King? I think we will see Melisandre return one last time to convince the Red God to spare a life. But it won’t happen.

Someone is going to die. It might not be Cersei. And the Red God will not bring them back

“Brown-golden bands, sand all in the sheets…” Little Big Town

Lock Little Big Town away with Edward Scissorhands and the second album from Brand New as “Things that I love but hurt my heart more than I can bear”.

I got quite a bit accomplished today. Trimmed my bangs which are always an all-day adventure that starts with “oops, missed another spot” ends with “for crissakes STOP while you still have HAIR!”

I’m also reading an exceptionally well-written account of Churchill and Orwell by Thomas E. Ricks. It may be the first book in years to hold my attention enough to finish. Purchased because I’ve always been a fan of Mr. Churchill although the more I read, the less I like Mr. “Orwell”. Although it is interesting to note that everyone who met Hitler was convinced he was sane, trustworthy, and genuinely a force for peace. Conversely, Churchill was regarded as “unbalanced”, a hot-head, full of uncensored, unsolicited and unwelcome diatribes, he was hated and derided by every political party including his own.

I also began planning for my next trip. I said I would return to California this year. Mid-to-late September, this time to Northern California to visit my sister (and NOT the Flake. Not, not, not, not…). I’ll couch surf in Sacramento with her and spend several days hiking Yosemite. I’ll take Mist Trail as far as Nevada Falls but I don’t think I care enough about getting to the top of Half Dome to attempt it although if my Army buddy “S” ends up joining me, he’ll insist on it. Three days of hard hiking is probably all my body can handle so I’ll take a break in Napa Valley and lounge all day at the Sattui winery with my sister.  At some point I’ll have to get homework done (boo hiss!) but I do not want this trip to be like my recent trip to NYC where I spent most of my time in a motel room in Jersey working on school assignments. I’m not expecting to do particularly well in this next class so I may just say “fck it” that week for grades. The last few days, I want to spend on the sand. Preferably nude. And with access to a hot-tub and more wine, recovering from the beating I’ll take in Yosemite (and trying hard not to contact the Flake who lives very close now to where I’ll be visiting).

I asked him a few months ago, when he reached out, if he only ever wanted to talk to me when he was bored or lonely (or horny) and he replied “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t want to talk to you”. So why isn’t he talking to me everyday? Now that I’ve agreed to reconnect. My imagination spins, wondering who else is occupying his time and receives the same “special selfies” he sends me… When he’s blocked and can’t reach me by phone, the pressure is off. So I do this to myself.

Love is a fraud ~ Belle & Sebastian

My dog listened to me sing for 10 hours in the car ride up into the hills of the tri-state area (NC/TN/GA).  If his farts are like contractions, how far apart must they be before I pull over?

On the way up, I took a detour through Athens to avoid Atlanta altogether. I not only didn’t feel like dealing with the traffic but something about passing what used to be the Flake’s exit hurt my heart.
I reached the base of the Smokies around 7:30pm. From there, the temperature dropped quickly and the scenery improved. It might have triggered my first sincere smile of the day. At this rate, I reached my mother’s property just before 10 pm. My only prayer was that she had toilet paper and a coffee pot, which she did, but in hindsight, I should have prayed for a working shower too.

It was like camping with a roof over my head. I bullied opened the sticky windows that would budge and cleaned up the rodent, bug and bat carcasses. While washing in the kitchen sink, dead bats floated up from the garbage disposal and by then, without gloves, I couldn’t bring myself to stick my hand down there and fish out the rest. The next day, I drove to the nearest town 40 miles away and rented an electric floor sander, found a wifi signal and ordered electronic plug in rodent repellants from Amazon. One of my Army buddies who said he would drive up to help me didn’t show but luckily the old woman living in the property adjacent put me in touch with a local handyman who would repair the shower (not til after I left) and helped me lug the 150lb sander up the narrow staircase. I was proud enough that I got it out of the car and into the house by myself but making up it up the stairs without throwing out my back or falling down the stairs was too risky. When did I become so weak? I bathed in the rain, in creeks, and in the (clothes) washing machine (when I was caked with sawdust from sanding and sweating so a baby wipe just wouldn’t suffice). I spent two full days working on the floors and a few odd repair jobs around the property then dedicated the rest of the time to hiking.

Raven Cliff falls was my favorite. Five miles round trip, a gradual incline and path that hugged the water all the way. My dog LOVES creeks. I discovered this when I went to visit the Flake in Atlanta last year. He literally bounces with joy, plunging his face and body into the cold water. He can’t do this at home because unless it’s on the ocean or gulf (which he can’t drink), there are ‘gators.

The next day, my dog was moving as stiff as I was so I opted for a much shorter trek closer to “home” at Fires Creek (although armed with two walking sticks, I insisted on keeping us in the water, navigating over slippery rocks which proved to be challenging and hardly qualified as “taking it easy”).

The next day was supposed to be the big hike: Finally, after nearly a year of cancellations, I was going to do the Full moon hike over the suspension bridge at Tallullah Gorge, leaving my dog behind of course but wearing him out on trails during the day to include Minnihaha. But we woke to the sound of rain and a message from the state park calling off the hike on account of it. The extended forecast called for rain the rest of the week so there was no “waiting it out”. In this environment, I could not re-wear the same clothes day after day and I had only packed enough underwear and medication for 9 days.

I also woke to an email from the Flake. How does he know just when to reach out and just what to say to bring me back on the line? He apologized for not being a friend to me. Said Atlanta was a transition period and he was at peace in California. Thanked me for being there for him at his darkest, ugliest. Said he was again the man I met and fell in love with at the Pelican pub 7 years ago. He wasn’t asking for anything but to talk to me. He missed me so much. I caved. Replied that I was in the hills without a steady signal and couldn’t call. But the door was open again.

As I weighed my options and decided ultimately there was nothing to do but start to head back towards home, he suggested Amicalola Falls. I’d been there before but not on a trail because my family couldn’t hike. It was on the way so I decided to stop and gauge the weather once I got there. The nice thing about hiking in wet weather is the trails are abandoned. Amicalola is labeled “difficult for dogs” but another pooch-traveling hiker hinted that the East Ridge trail was suitable. And it was. A bit rocky at the top so I released my dog from his leash so that he and I could both pick the path most appropriate for us. Besides, he’s responsive to voice command and has attachment issues so he never got more than 20 feet ahead of me before stopping and waiting for me to catch up. And he’s smart. He would creep towards the edge and look out but never got too close and was never tempted to follow a small animal to his doom. Amicalola was just over 2 miles round trip and a much steeper incline than Raven Cliff. The sky cracked open when we reached the top so we ducked back into woods, taking the west trail down, protected from the worst of the deluge by the woodland canopy. Unfortunately, I had no clean, dry clothes or towels left to change into when we got back to the car so it was a wet, chilly drive for 6 hours to a dog friendly motel on the FL/GA border where we stopped for the night.

On the way, I chatted with the Flake. He invited me to come see him. I mentioned plans to go back to Cali later this year but the highway through Big Sur was still closed and Esalen was too expensive. He said he would take me hiking through the Redwoods and we would drink wine in the hot tub overlooking the Ocean where he lives on in apartments on a cliff. Of course we would also hit the nearby nude beach. Things were and still are sexually explicit between us. I mentioned I had told my sister I would visit her sometime during her next contract job in Sacramento from Sept-December but she stays at places through AirBnB so I would have to do the same. Or stay with him. I considered the state-run lighthouse hostels and calling my Army buddy from WA state down to hike (he already said he would come and of everyone who says they will make it, he’s the one who keeps his word). So I can go back to California and not see the Flake. I should NOT see the Flake. I know I can’t handle it. I know we would have a great time and then I would crash on the plane home, emotionally. I would be left empty, just like last year, struggling for months to recover from a few days of happiness with a man that loves me but isn’t IN LOVE with me. And I’ll tell him this, in a few weeks when I book my next trip that does not include seeing him.

“I just wanna be somebody to someone” – Banners

The booty call, I don’t even think I can call him that since we only hooked up twice and it was several months ago, went swing dancing for 5 hours last night followed by an additional 2 hours of salsa at another club. I had considered going to both dances and ultimately went to neither. I was so anxious to get back from Montana to dance and return to a “routine” and yet I’ve been back for 3 days and have done Jack and Shit.

I purchased books in the airport, one on Winston Churchill (I’m a history buff and a closet fan of that complicated man and the era he led in) and another book of recently published scraps of stories and plots from F Scott Fitzgerald ( and it may forever remain unbeknownst us how much is plagiarized from his wife). I remember a time when I devoured books and now I can’t remember the last one I made through its entirety. It’s not that I’m disinterested, it’s that I struggle to focus. It doesn’t matter the content, my attention Trails off after a few pages and then I can’t recall what I read. As if I can’t even comprehend the words on the page. What is wrong with my brain? How will I ever find another decent job if my mind is mush? And I’m pretty sure I blew both interviews this week. One for saying the wrong thing out right and the other, the dreaded brain fog or hiccup, words escaping me all together. I used to be unfailingly articulate. Now, its as if English were a second language.

“Every me and every you” – Placebo

Montana was a bust. I spent my birthday and the following week trapped on a porch, breathing in smoke from the burning mountains and counting down the days and hours until my flight home.
I went to visit a recently retired Army friend-turned-frazzled mom. Her daughter adored me but the son was unfriendly and fussy. My friend was too exhausted and unmotivated to hike although she had the gear and her kids were perfectly content to ride on our backs. In 7 days, I may have spent a total of 2 hours on foot in the terrain. I was stir crazy, unaccustomed to being sedentary. I cleaned house (which made her mother uncomfortable, I learned), walked the short stretch of road to and from the local grocery store and lunged around the yard when no one was around. We did make it to a bar one evening and bored local cops stalked us as we walked home sober. Ive never been stalked by cops before. What option do bar-goers have in a town too small for cabs and Uber?
Although it was nice to discuss music again (I failed to agree that Ben Gibbard of Death Cab ripped off the sound of Placebo from the Cruel Intentions soundtrack). And it was endearing to meet a family with roots. Sisters, uncles, countless cousins…they were bickering, loving land barons with thick paper deeds dating back to the mid 1800’s. My friend has history. She can trace her lineage even without the help of the Mormons. I know nothing and can learn nothing beyond my Ashkanazi gypsy horse thief great grandfather.

But back to my friend. In her desperation for children, she compromised on love. Perhaps forfeited is a more appropriate word. A willful, independent, forceful personality saddled but not tamed by parenthood. She seethed resentment though dare not voice it because it’s hard to complain to a lonely, childless woman. My mother said “It will get easier in a few years when they get into school and she has a few hours to herself again”. But watching her struggle and I, bored to actual tears, wondered if this was a lesson for me, G-d reminding me to be careful what I wish for. What is worse? Living, sleeping, and dying alone or being trapped in an unhappy marriage and mommyhood?

It’s okay if Harry and Sally never hook up

That’s what I’m thinking about, last nights conversation with my Asshole Best Friend (ABF). As I’m pre-flight cracking: folding myself in half to release my back, then shoulders, then lift my legs like dog-meets-tree and the sounds of my hips popping is loud enough that the man beside me in the line to board the plane remarks on it. It will be long day of flights to reach Montana. I’m visiting a friend there for my bday. Because you know I always grow desperate around my bday and need to get the hell out of town. Scotland last year, Alaska year before (and looking back, you recall how those went). Montana is a foreign land to me and I wanna make those mountains my bitch but these days, my appetite for adventure is bigger than my physical capability. Also my friend has 18mos old twins and is in full-time mommy mode. I told her we could split them up, pack them in papooses and ruck them up the mountain with us. Not sure if she’s down but she used to be fearless. Freshly retired from the Army, I’m dying her hair pink. We’ve been obsessing over Guy Tang colors and I’m going to follow one of his recipes for a 5 part harmony of rose gold and pink. My mother will be next with varying shades of silver and dusty violet metallic.

But I digress. The Flake called again and it went straight to  VM because he is still blocked. He just wanted to apologize.  And I’m thankful for the apology. It eases my resentment.

But my asshole best friend. We may only talk on the phone once or twice  a year but that’s partly becsuse I hate talking on the phone and he traps me for hours. Last night, it was 4.5 until my phone died. By then he was drunk, rambling and repeating himself. Telling me he attempted suicide again on his birthday and, unsurprised and a bit less sympathetic than I had intended, I advised him to take a tip from me: take birthday weeks off, run far far away and go check something off the bucket list. He also lost his recent radio gig in a blaze of dramatic glory. Frankly, I’m surprised he lasted as long as he did. On the upside, He started writing short screenplays again. One is nearly finished and he bounced a few other ideas off me. One is based on us. A key scene being a memory that he holds dear (and I was too drunk to recall): at a concert, he says something to upset me, of course, I lash back and he apologizes. I sit next to him and lay my head in his lap (I do not remember any of this, by the way. I can’t even recall what concert we were at). He’s stroking my hair, thinking about how much he loves me and wonders if he should kiss me. But he doesn’t and instead, puts me in a cab and sends me home, like I requested.  And that’s the scene that haunts him, he should have kissed me, he insists. I’m on the other end of the conversation, shaking my head amd flapping my arms like my brother in an autistic fit thinking “Nononono!!!” But my voice is calm as I say “Well, thank you for not taking advantage of me when I was drunk. If you had, we may not still be friends”, he replies “Of course we would. And we’d be married with kids” I cringe and flap again, “You know,” I try to joke, “its okay if Harry and Sally never hook up” but he isn’t listening. He’s again describing this kiss that could have altered the course of our futures, that will be the alternate reality played out on video. And  I hear my mother’s voice “See? I told you men and women can’t be friends”

A Eulogy

My Trusted Agent closed down his blog over a year ago because instead of catharsis, it fed a dark, destructive need. But sometimes he needs to get it off his chest. So I offered to ghost-publish his e-message in a bottle…

 

I drove by a familiar spot in my past. (It’s been awhile)
Just a random restaurant with a private parking lot.
What made this place special
that I would meet “Marti” there from time to time.
We were like two teenagers in heat. Kissing, grabbing at each other and when possible,
fucking like crazed rabbits.
I met Marti while on a business trip a 1,000 miles from home. I was still recovering from a recent death  of a close family member.
We were both in a dry spell in our marriages.  We filled a basic need for each other.
No promises, drama, plans or chains.
We made sure each one finished, at least once.
When it rained was the best.
The droning on the windshield, and the extra layer of privacy made it even better.
We would meet at my office after hours, at each other’s house when everyone was away for several days.
We were a perfect “fit”.
Our rhythm was always spot-on.
Whispers and moans, encouraging each other to do this and that.
Complimenting on how something felt or how long it had been.
When she was on her knees, she was shaped like an elegant musical instrument.
Her hips and back were a thing of feminine artwork.
The line of her spine and dimples on her lower back were burned into my mind.
She tasted sweet.
She always loved it on top.
I mention this not out of cheap sensationalism, but in the fact she would hit her perfect spot and would come several times. She would roll her head back with her eyes closed and had a half smile on her face. Sometimes her face would contort and she would gasp from the tremors and convulsions in her body. She would always tighten up. Her wetness was always just right.
She knew exactly what felt good and how to get there. It was a goal and she was determined.
She was one of the few women with whom I could go twice around with without stopping.
It was like fucking the Sun at times.  The warmth and danger always present.
We drifted apart as life got in the way. We had our own lives to focus on.
A few years later we managed to catch up. (Years before that these calls/texts would lead to on-the-fly hookups)
She told me she had major heart issues and surgeries.
I wished her well and said goodbye.
Today as I drove by that parking lot, I looked her up online to see if she still worked at the same office (I just wanted to say Hi) and that’s when I found her obituary.
How do I grieve for someone I should have never knew or touched?
I’m empty.
These days I’m trying to be a good person…husband…
But this is such a sudden hole in my past. Like a page ripped out.
I feel ashamed at the same time.  A familiar guilt of not deserving certain people in
my selfish life.

But enough about me, let’s talk about what you think of me

I re-blocked The Flake yesterday. Did I tell you he took a job in Monterey, CA? My dream (our dream) to live on the Pacific Coast and he got there before I did. Last month when he was going through the interview process, I took his calls and texts, to offer encouragement and advice, to be the “better” person. But it’s always about him, only him. He called again today and when it went straight to voicemail, he was compelled to leave a message to say “Either you blocked me again or your phone is off…” Fine. Here is my next letter to him:

“I encourage you to re-read those letters I sent you last year explaining why I cut off contact. The one-sided fact of our “relationship” (I can’t say ‘friendship’) and me wanting (and deserving) better, than you were willing to give meant that I could not be “just” your friend. Now, I don’t want that from you but the one-sidedness remains. You only reach out when you need something, when it’s convenient to you. You never look at MY pictures when I travel or ask how school or treatment is going or ask about my dancing or ask to see the video of me singing or how my mother is doing…it doesn’t even occur to you because my life simply doesn’t interest you. If it doesn’t affect you, it doesn’t matter to you. You’re so wrapped up in trying to impress others that I wonder if you know what real friendship is?

My phone is often off or on DND because I am usually in a class or otherwise busy. I return your calls and texts if they genuinely important because I care about you. But I am not here to entertain you and fill the silence when no one else is available. I have neither time nor interest in investing extra effort in someone who only thinks to reach out to scratch his own itches.

I also don’t appreciate the manipulation. A picture of you wearing my shirt NINE months after you took it off me, coyly asking “Is this yours?” You damned well know it’s mine. Followed by the Google Earth picture with a circle around your new home on the Pacific Coast… I don’t know, and you may not even be self-aware enough to know, truthfully if you are gloating or sharing. But frankly, your intent doesn’t matter at this point. All that matters is how it makes me feel, which is like crap.

Nothing has changed except that I no longer have any hopes or expectations with regards to you. Not as a friend or anything else. You are still not good to or for me. And every time you contact me, it picks open a scab. Or perhaps you are not the man I thought you were.

I hope your mother is doing as well as can be expected. And congratulations again and good luck on the new job and fulfilling the dream of living on the Pacific Coast. Hopefully I’m not far behind but you won’t know if and when I am. Mainly, because you lack the interest to ask.

Please do not reply. At all.”

 

In other “news”, I aced my law final. Maybe the difference is I was engaged and interested in this class so I grasped the concepts better. Or maybe I tried harder because I was starved for approval from my professor, a federal judge teaching for the hell of it. When he said my work was “among the best I have seen in many years of teaching…I am very impressed. I commend you on your effort and skills”, I ate it up. My friend “S” reminded me that he thinks I’m incredible too and I said “Thanks but that’s a bit like my mommy telling me I’m pretty”. Of course it counts but we also crave external validation. Not exactly Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs but my emotional pyramid of Love/Acceptance needs includes, from most to least important, from close friends and family, then from respected peers/authority figures, and then the least important but still registers like a pebble thrown into the lake, love/acceptance from strangers.

And my inner voice asks “Can’t you just say ‘thank you’…?”

Veteran entitlement?

http://www.breachbangclear.com/signs-of-veteran-entitlement/

I have mixed feelings about this. Yes could be an attention seeker or a leech on the VA teet. I’m a bit of a history buff and I’ve seen enough footage of World War 1 and 2 to know I had I had it “easy. Even picking through the remains of the Alfred P Murrah building and Khobar Towers. Or getting knocked out of my bunk once or twice by bombs that were much closer than a mile away. Or staring into the faces of the enemy Dead. They looked distorted like when I was a kid and would pinch Barbie’s head. I’ve lost friends to cancers that I suspect 50 years from now will be revealed to be a result of years of radiation and possibly all the crap that was pumped into us. I thought I’d have three-eyed babies from all the anthrax shots but instead I’m just sterile and in remission. And now long-term studies are coming out about those orange malaria pills that we ate like candy. I wake up in tears from nightmares about those I couldn’t save, ours and theirs. But Fireworks don’t bother me too much. Except for the whistlers. Those fuckers do sound like incoming, incoming, incoming..