Dances with Idioms

24 Jul

smashed heads3

I am a procrastinator who can’t wait to get started.

I am violently passive aggressive.

I am a painfully shy exhibitionist–a voyeur who is determined to make you look.

Call me crazy, but I do the same things over and over again and expect different results.

I watch pots and–guess what?–eventually they boil anyway.

I took the road less traveled and got lost. Wound up going in circles. By the time I figured out which way to go, the road less traveled had become thoroughly and repeatedly traveled. Damn road totally lost its cachet.

I refuse to let sleeping dogs lie. If I see a sleeping dog, I wake him up. (But I give him a cookie…)

I cry over spilled milk. But once I get closure, I’m fine.

I like to bite off more than I can chew. Then I spit it out.

I am a back seat driver even when I am alone in the car. Of course I use the driver’s seat to actually drive, but I heckle myself during the whole trip.

Not only do I not fix it if it ain’t broke–I don’t fix it if it is broke. I just throw it away.

I toot my own horn. (I’d toot someone else’s horn but I don’t know where that horn has been!)

I read between the lines because I love white noise.

I know the score, I just tend to forget it.

I cry wolf a lot. No one believes me, but I get a kick out of it.

I can take it or leave it. (Wait, what were my choices again?)
 

My Overdose

30 Jun

trippy

 

It began innocently enough. Doesn’t it always?

I got into my car after working out at the gym. Still a little breathless and all hopped up from the “natural high” of the endorphin afterglow from exercise, I reached into my backpack to extract the vitamin supplements that I take after working out.

That was my intention anyway.

But my mind played a trick on me, see? It was a mistake I tell you.

Somehow I reached for the wrong bottle, took out a pill, and tossed it into my mouth. Then I took a swig of water and swallowed.

Then it hit me, “Oh my God, I’ve overdosed on my blood pressure medication!

I am supposed to take one pill a day and I took one before I left for the gym. (I don’t want to stroke out on the elliptical machine now do I?) Now I had taken one after my work out as well.

Just an innocent mistake, I swear it!

My mind raced, “What to do?”

“Induce vomiting,” came back the reply. That’s what it says on all the labels!

I leapt from my car and ran back into the gym.

“Can I help you?” asked the chipper young woman behind the reception desk.

What is the best way to induce vomiting? What do all the warning labels say?

I need mustard!”

What?

I need mustard!”

She looked around behind the desk in an attempt to be helpful. “Sorry. I don’t have any mustard. I have a Powerbar, would that help?”

I don’t think so…” I replied.

“Gatorade?”

I gave her a panicked look and ran to the men’s room.

I stuck my finger down my throat. Nothing happened.

I tried again. Still nothing.

I should have known my lack of gag reflex that serves me so well in certain situations would come back to bite me on the ass one day. I simply could not make myself vomit.

I guess I can scratch bulimia off of my list of potential weight loss plans.

There’s nothing to do but face the fact that soon I will be tripping on my blood pressure meds.

Somewhere in the twisted recesses of my brain the song White Rabbit by the Jefferson Airplane begins to play.

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small…

I return to my car. I need to quickly drive the quarter of a mile to my office before the meds kick in. Those drug warnings don’t caution against driving or operating heavy machinery for nothing!

I lock myself in my office and sit down. Got to think! Got to think! Once the drug kicks in no telling what will happen!

I know! I’ll just keep the door closed and locked all day. No one will notice. Except…. Damn me and my “Open Door Policy!”

What was I on when I implemented that cockamamie idea?

Maybe I should just admit to everyone that I accidentally took an overdose of blood pressure medicine. But who would believe me? Accident? I can hear them scoffing now.

No. I have to somehow maintain and pretend that nothing is out of the ordinary…

But can I function while I am tripping on blood pressure medicine? I have visions of people asking me how I am today and me responding in a strangely slow voice, “Oh man, my blood pressure is so low…

What is it about overdosing on pharmaceuticals that makes me think of the 1970’s?

7th grade Health class: I was hoping the class would be more about sex and not so much about the dangers of cigarettes and drugs. I get it! Drugs are bad. Now can we see pictures of naked people? But no, the teacher just wants to talk about topics like “gateway drugs” and such.

Gateway drugs?! What was it she said? Something like marijuana is a gateway drug to heroin…What if blood pressure medicine is a gateway drug to something else? Like maybe cardiovascular drugs?

I start abusing this stuff and then I’ll be wanting antithrombotic drugs, maybe even something antiarrhythmic. God forbid I start using that antianginal stuff—Nitro glycercerin! Then things start blowing up—just like those meth labs I read about in Time magazine.

I am starting to feel…something. Am I getting “high”? Or, considering the nature of the drug I have taken, am I getting “low”?

What if after today I have a craving to get “low” everyday? I’ll start doubling up the dosage. Then I’ll develop a tolerance so I’ll have to add a third and fourth pill to my sinister vasodilator cocktail. Then I’ll go through my prescription two or three times as fast. When Walgreens won’t give me a refill I’ll have to start getting my blood pressure drugs on the street!

And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all…

I flash on an image of myself in one of those seedy neighborhoods with drug dealers on every corner you see in anti-drug commercials. As I walk slowly down the sidewalk, the dealers who loiter on the bus benches and under the lampposts mutter in my direction,

Crack?”

Horse?”

Meth?”

“Lisinopril?”

I lock eyes with the steely eyed dealer.

Oh, the dude wants to get low,” he says with a knowing chuckle.
I shudder in an attempt to shake off this prophetic image. It is just like they taught me in junior high school. I should have made more of an effort to pay attention.

Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall…

I remember the book Go Ask Alice. All the kids in my junior high read it. It was supposed to be the real diary of a high school girl. Later I learned it was actually one of many novels written by an adult named Beatrice Sparks as a cautionary tale for teens and then marketed as a true story.

A few years ago James Frey took that same concept and applied it to adults. Look where that got him–a television tongue lashing from Oprah.

Meanwhile Go Ask Alice is still in print and is still taught in schools as “a true story.”

There’s a lesson here: make up whatever you want, just don’t piss off Oprah.

The Movie of the Week version of Go Ask Alice came out in 1973. The movie includes the memorable line:

He’s getting high just talking about getting high, and you’re getting high off of his high, and I’m getting high
off of your high. And it’s one big contact high.

In the movie, William Shatner (after Captain Kirk but before T.J. Hooker) plays the clueless father of the protagonist—a girl named Alice. When Alice’s grades start to slip and she starts hanging out with glassy eyed kids who look like refuges from Woodstock, it never occurs to her parents that their daughter might be experimenting with drugs.

It is safe to say they are the only parents in 1973 that wouldn’t have leapt to that conclusion.

All of the parents I knew at that time were extremely paranoid about their kids doing drugs. If you so much as looked at your mother sideways she would start in with the “Are you on drugs?” If you looked sad, happy, mad or tired, one of your parents would inevitably query, “Are you high on something right now?”

Not so William Shatner and his made for TV movie wife. They didn’t figure anything out until it was too late.

When logic and proportion
Have fallen softly dead…

Still, Alice’s drug problem wasn’t really the fault of the parents. It all began when someone slipped LSD into Alice’s soft drink at a party. From there life spiraled out of control—more drugs, promiscuous sex, drug dealing boyfriends, running away from home and living on the streets. All from one Acid-laced glass of soda pop.

Let that be a lesson to us all.

After hitting rock bottom Alice seeks assistance from a priest played by Andy Griffith.

She’s lucky he didn’t throw her in the drunk tank with Otis.

Andy reunites Alice with her parents, she kicks her habit and things start looking up. Then someone slips her drugs (again!) while she is babysitting. When Alice feels the stuff kicking in, she locks herself in a closet in order to protect the baby.

For a moment I wonder if maybe I should lock myself in a closet. When I remember that Alice in the movie freaked out and hurt herself trying to claw her way back out of the closet and wound up in the hospital, I think better of the closet idea.

Where’s Andy Griffith when I need him?
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s “off with her head!

After getting out of the hospital, Alice really cleans up her act. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. I don’t want to spoil the ending in case anyone wants to rent this or read the book but let’s just say Go Ask Alice has a sad ending. (Spoiler alert:  Alice dies of a drug overdose.)

That ending seemed a whole lot sadder when we all believed Go Ask Alice was a true story.

Go Ask Alice, like Reefer Madness before it, is intended to scare kids straight. It actually worked on the kids I went to school with—no one at my junior high used drugs.

Everyone waited until they were in senior high school. Some even waited until college.

Remember what the dormouse said…

I guess by now you’ve figured out that I did not die from my reckless overdose of pharmaceuticals since dead men do not blog.

Despite the all of the warnings I received in junior high school, I did what so many children of the 70’s would do—I turned to another drug for help.

I decided coffee was the answer.

If caffeine elevates blood pressure then I figured drinking more coffee would give that extra pill something to do. Apparently it worked.

Let this be a lesson to us all.

Feed your head!

Feed your head!

Feed your head!

 

 

Paris Street Art

21 May

Art is not to be taught in Academies. It is what one looks at, not what one listens to, that makes the artist. The real schools should be the streets. ~ Oscar Wilde

The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, the Rodin Museum, and The Cluny are a few of the most famous art venues in Paris.

Another place you will find art in the City of Light is in the streets and alleyways of the city. Some might see it as vandalism or just graffiti, but I think Oscar Wilde would approve.

In today’s blog I would like to share a slideshow of the art I enjoyed while traversing the streets of Paris last summer.

Please pour yourself a glass of Chardonnay or perhaps Bordeaux, put an Edith Piaf CD on to play, and sit back and take in a sampling of the street art of Paris.

Amusez-vous!

An artist has no home in Europe except in Paris. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

An artist has no home in Europe except in Paris.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Mother’s Day

8 May

Bill's mom

 

Happy Thursday before Mother’s Day–because it is never too early, or too late, to wish our mothers well.

I hope all of the Moms out there have a special Mother’s Day this Sunday. As I often do, I will spend a portion of Mother’s Day remembering my own mother.

She passed away 34 years ago this month. That means I’ve spent more years on Earth without my mother than with her. She was 51 when she died, so that means I have now lived 4 years longer than she did.

I don’t write a lot about my mother because I am still a loyal son. My mother was an alcoholic and my childhood was a jumble of the craziness and the sorrow that comes from living in an alcoholic home. Children who live in that sort of environment learn to cover at a young age: “Everything is fine.” “Mom is taking a nap, she’s just tired.”

The time without my mother has taught me some important lessons. Life isn’t easy and people make choices and then have to muddle through the best they can based on the choices they’ve made. My mother was no exception and neither am I.

I know many people have their parents in their lives up until they are a ripe old age. That situation comes with joys, pain and lessons of its own.

Since my father died when I was 6, and then my mother passed away when I was 21, I was, as I graduated from college and headed out into the big, bad, world, an orphan. I use that term for dramatic effect–I had other family members in my life, I was not truly alone in the world. But to focus on my point, (which is not easy at 5:30am, when I am typing this) I was parent-less at a young age.

Sometimes I think the opportunity to take on adulthood and make your way on your own is a little gift the Universe gives us to help us learn to better understand and ultimately forgive our parents. Some folks have it all together when they sally forth into the world.

Good for those folks!

Three cheers for those folks!

I hate those folks!

Well, not really, but I do envy those folks because I was not, to say the least, one of them. I screwed up.

No, I didn’t pursue a life of crime or drug abuse and wind up in jail, but I screwed up plenty of times. Yet I somehow got back up, brushed myself off, and kept on going. In the screwing up and the false starts and the regrets that come with them, I learned to appreciate the challenges that my parents had to wrestle with.

My mother was a single mother, with a young boy in tow. I can only imagine how difficult and challenging that must have been. There was a certain sense of “you and me against the world” sometimes, which created a bond that survives to this day. My mother was fiercely protective of me and I learned to be protective of her. I also felt a responsibility to be “a good boy.”

Frankly, I wasn’t always as well supervised as a child should be, but I stayed out of trouble, for the most part, because of my loyalty to my mother. I didn’t want to cause her any grief.

I said all that to say this (circling back to point…) my parents did the best they could with what they had to work with. They made choices and then had to work with the consequences of the choices they made; sometimes they were just dealt a bad hand through no fault of their own. I can so relate to both of those experiences.

My parents were human–this admission completely destroys my childhood fantasy that I was actually an alien from another planet, but I will just have to live with that.

I completely get that being human is an imperfect state of being. Life is funny and difficult and sometimes amazing. My mother was those things too.

I had a funny memory recently, which on the surface isn’t funny. My mother died two months after I met my significant other, Ray. My mother met him once, but I never had the opportunity to come out to her.

Whatever my other relatives may have thought about my “friendship” with Ray at that point in time, it must have been obvious to them how much he loved me when he attended my mother’s funeral. While my mother’s siblings and nieces and nephews and I did a pretty good job of holding it together, Ray wept like a baby.

When he came through the receiving line, Ray couldn’t speak, he was so choked up. Tears were running down his face. He just hugged me close, smearing tears and a bit of snot on the shoulder of my suit coat.

Remembering that moment after all of these years, I am moved to realize how loving that was–Ray’s sorrow was that awful pain one feels when someone you love is in distress and you can’t “fix things” no matter how much you wish you could.

OK, but it was still kind of funny. I think my family was thinking, “what is with this guy, anyway? He hardly knew the woman!” It was sweet. And funny. So was my mother, and so is life.

My love to all the moms out there. Happy Thursday.

 

flower glow

Time, Time, Time, See What’s Become of Me

12 Apr

 

words words2

Time to blog again, I tell myself.

Regularly.

Writing should be a practice, like yoga or fine art painting.

You lay the brush down too long, you find you can’t fill the canvas any longer. And if you try, all you get is a waste of time and paint.

You leave that yoga met too long, when you return, you find the only pose you can now execute with any level of accuracy  is the Child Pose.

My mind has been a scattered mess lately. After months of dealing with an ongoing crisis (great blog material, but not quite yet) I turned the corner. Winter was harsh, even by Florida standards, but Spring has arrived. Blue skies. Sunshine.

Work brain, work!

In the past week I managed to lose my keys in a relatively small space, inside my own office. I did not locate them until the next day–in my gym bag. It should have been the first place I looked.

I have managed to send several incomplete messages via email, when instead I thought I had deleted  them without pushing Send. So, this necessitates yet anther message to explain to the other person, “oops. What I was trying to say, meant to say, hoped to say…”

Friends laugh when this happens, but at least one of the messages went to someone I was hoping to impress. Then the conundrum, should I send an additional follow-up message? It makes me think of the scene in the movie Swingers when Jon Favreau can’t leave well enough alone and keeps calling a girl he wants to take out, leaving one message after the other on her answering machine; each message more rambling and pathetic than the one before until, finally, the woman picks up the phone and says, “Never call me again”

I spent pretty much all of last week confused about which day of the week it was. I actually had a moment on Friday when I was certain it was Monday. At least when reality hit me, it was a nice surprise.

I have not been certain what month we are in for the entire first quarter of 2014. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that I have a three month calendar hanging on my office wall. The prior month is on top, in the middle it is the current month, and then at the bottom is the month ahead. This is great for planning ahead and/or reminding yourself what day of the week a certain date fell on last month. But if March 31st has passed and you don’t bother to turn the page, you find yourself–well, not you specifically “you”, it might be better to say “one finds oneself ,”continually scanning the month in the middle because, hey, that is the current month according to the way this particular calendar is supposed to work. I finally turned the page on Thursday (or maybe it was Wednesday) but I still thought Friday was Monday. (But it totally wasn’t! Yay!)

I refuse to embrace the phrase,”senior moment” to explain my scatterbrained moments and lapses of memory. Nor will I use “brain fart” as an excuse for a memory loss. I am sure this is TMI, but I am now at an age when actual flatulence from the usual place is inexplicably on the rise (now no one will let me ride in their car with them again, I just know it) so I don’t need any additional places wherein or from which I “fart.”

A friend of mine recently shared a news story that lifted the spirits of all of her friends of a certain age. German researchers determined that as people get older, they don’t really lose cognitive abilities. The problem is, they know more. There is simply too much information in their brains, so it takes a little longer to sort through it all.

Which explains why I will find myself recalling some long forgotten event from my very distant past–something I had totally forgotten about until that moment. My brain is too full and all of those thoughts are elbowing each other for space, so sometimes memories come unbidden to the surface without any prompting from me. And sometimes all of the concentrating in the world will not access the name of the person standing in front of me.

My cache is busting at the seams. I may have too many cookies too, but…mmmmm, cookies…

In my house, when one of us finds himself frustrated over something forgotten, making him feel old, we break into our On Golden Pond routine:

Norman: I got to the end of our lane and I couldn’t remember where I was…

Ethel: You old poop. Listen to the loons!

For the record, I usually do the Katherine Hepburn part and I’m not half bad, if I do say so myself. My partner’s Henry Fonda isn’t half bad either. Which is surprising because most of his imitations sound like he is speaking in a parody of a Jewish accent crossed with an Italian accent, even when he is trying to ape a French accent.

Which brings me back to blogging. Since I can’t actually reboot my brain, perhaps some exercise will help. Soduko? Crossword puzzles? No, writing is definitely the best exercise for my brain. So, a return to regular blogging is a marvelous start.

Assuming I can remember my WordPress password…

Happy Saturday!

 

 

Arizona Reserves the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone

23 Feb

I cast thee out

 

So, the Arizona Legislature passed something called SB 1062. Lots of people are in an uproar about it, so I thought I’d check and see what all the hub bub is about.

From what I can gather, this bill redefines and expands the state of Arizona’s definition of “exercise of religion” and “state action” to protect businesses, corporations and people from lawsuits after denying services based on a sincere religious belief.

Basically, as long as a person’s behavior is motivated by a religious belief, and that religious belief is “sincerely held”–that person or business is protected under the law.

A lot of people think this law is intended to provide Arizonians an extra opportunity to be mean to gay people. I can see that this law would certainly do that.

For example, if my religious beliefs tell me that HIV is God’s punishment for being gay, I would be free to deny medical treatment, or anything else to a person who is HIV positive. Of course, if my religious beliefs tell me that your religion is a crock or is just plain evil, I am also free to deny you goods or services because, hey, sincerely held beliefs!

Can you imagine? Like, for example, a country club populated by WASPS could deny membership to people of the Jewish faith because they sincerely believe those people killed Christ.
If I am an atheist, can I discriminate against Christians? Why not? As long as your atheism is a “sincerely held” belief.

Don’t get me started on some people’s sincerely held beliefs about Muslims. Or Buddhists, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Catholics, or Mormons…

Pregnant woman without a wedding ring (or worse–pregnant lesbian with a wedding ring!)–I sincerely believe you are a harlot and no,  I will not serve you in my holy restaurant.

You two men–I will not rent you a room in my holy hotel because I suspect you are a same sex couple. You’re not? Then how come you have the same last name? Brothers? Hmmmm, you look like homosexuals to me. So, shoo! I can’t be too careful, what with my sincerely held beliefs and all…

The folks behind this bill say it will not lead to discrimination but will, instead, “protect the religious freedom of every Arizonian.”

Because apparently the state of Arizona is overrun with sinful people who are forcing “people of faith” to do all sorts of horrible things like bake cakes for same sex weddings and all manner of evil. This is apparently the biggest problem facing the people of Arizona today. Once this bill becomes law, Arizona will be OK, I guess.

What’s wrong with that?

Something these legislative people should know, that I know (and I am not even a lawyer or even a paralegal) is that the interpretation of the law will not be determined so much by the people of Arizona as it will be by case law.  When an angry lesbian mothers whose child was denied medical treatment or an upset Mormon family who were refused hotel accommodations start dragging all these sincere people into court. Basically, you won’t know how terrible this bill really is until you’ve unleashed it upon the arid land that is Arizona.

I think the people who want to see this bill pass would do well to provide examples from the Bible that illustrate why this law is so important.

How about that time Jesus fed the multitude with just a few loaves of bread and some fish? Wait–that’s a bad example. I don’t think Jesus even asked if there were any gay people in the crowd who might inadvertently be fed by him, despite his sincerely held beliefs.

And not only did Jesus provide free health care on more than one occasion, he didn’t even bother to screen out the sinners from the people who actually deserved to be healed because they shared his sincerely held beliefs.

Maybe that is because Jesus wanted to reach people who didn’t share his sincerely held beliefs because, you know, why preach to the choir?

It has been a while since I have been to Sunday school, but I am pretty sure you’d be hard pressed to find one example in the Bible in which Jesus touch someone’s heart by being rude.

I believe that the people behind this bill do the true believers a disservice. This bill is going to give all sorts of pious jerks the opportunity to act snotty to other people in the name of Jesus–and feel good about doing so. All the while convincing significant numbers of people that these folks who call themselves Christians are, well, pious snotty jerks.

I am not sure that is the most effective way to spread the gospel, but that’s just me.

When you compare the lessons that Jesus taught with the messages the supporters of this bill are putting forth, you kind of get the feeling that SB 1062 is rather un-Christian.

At least that’s the way I see it. Heathen, though I may be.

Still, there is something I love about this bill.

I love that Arizona often attempts to out-crazy Florida and is usually successful.

Thanks, AZ for making FL look somewhat lucid, at least on occasion.

Happy Sunday.

More Bikes of Paris

26 Jan

paris bike wheel gone

I have not ridden my bike in awhile due to a variety of circumstances (details of which are for another blog), including Winter–damn Artic vortex. I know there are heartier souls who do not let the cold keep them out of the saddle. I have no excuse other than, I am a child of Florida and when the temperature dips below 60, I run for cover.

Since I am not riding my bike today, I thought it  might be fun to look at other people’s bikes. In 2012, during my first trip to Paris, I discovered what a cycling town the City of Lights is–and along with my regular touristy shots, I found myself drawn to photographing the copius bicycles of Paris.

This past summer, when I returned to Paris, I was again drawn to take snapshots of the bicyclettes I encountered all over the city.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from my Paris trip 2013:

paris bike share glow

Bike-sharing is huge in Paris. According to the Vélib’website:  Vélib’ is the largest bike-sharing in the world run by the Paris Town Hall since 2007. With over 20,000 bikes covering the city available 24/7 all year long in 1,800 bike stations located every 300 meters. How does it work? Take a bike, return it where you like, Vélib’ is a self-service bike system available 24 hours a day, all year round. To access the service, buy a 1-day or a 7-day ticket online or at any Vélib’ station or sign-up for a long-term subscription! The image above is a short of one of the bike stations at night.

paris bike pink heart2

I heart bicycles AND cycling is good for your heart so, I think this picture speaks for itself,

paris bike rusty4

The bikes of Paris come in all shapes and sizes and degrees of shininess.  You can tell this bike has been around the block more than once. It wears its rust like a badge of honor.

black bike black and white

Bicycles are beautiful even in black and white.

bike and cannonball2

Did someone shoot a cannon ball at this bicycle or is the cyclist planning to go bowling? Oh, the French–you just never know what they’re up to.

paris bike hungup3

There is more than one way to park a bicycle and this is a case in point.

glowing bike

At night the bikes along the Seine seem to glow…

saddle

Bike saddles are notoriously uncomfortable. I love this old leather bike seat. It doesn’t look comfortable but it certainly has character.

paris bike red reflector

paris bike velo point2

Yet another spotr in Paris where you can rent a bicycle (velo).

street bike bw

Now that is a pretty bike!

paris bike shadow2

A bike in the shadow of a small fountain on a narrow rue.

paris bike reflection3cropped

paris bike notre dame

This is a cyclist (to quote ABBA) “in the tourist jam, round the Notre Dame…”

blue bike

A bicycle waiting patiently for the cyclist’s return…

paris bike checks

…and another.

paris bike cafe shadow

A bicycle parked outside a cafe. Can you get any more French than that?

bike with mirror2

As they say in France (assuming Google Translate is to be trusted):

Merci de vérifier quelques-unes des belles motos de Paris.

Au revoir!

Indie Hero

Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller

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