Shiver My Timbers

I shiver my timbers
In the sudden warmth of March
Lockstep
Towards the twelfth dread
Another spin around the drain
maelstrom’s fire scorching space

I fancy myself piratical
adrift, now making sail
Heaving to galactic destiny
Shanghaied
The siren sings of emancipation
Unlocking the depths

Yo oh heave ho
Haul anchors away
Into scarlet skies at night
Spinning yarns that couldn’t be told
Jones’ bones are allowed to speak
Dead man no more

Not all treasure
Is silvers of steel drenched
In blood
Pulled from beating hearts
Salty breezes sweep
Hearts high on sea swells

Morning

The dappled light
Through leaf and blind
On wall and bed post
Proves the broken morning
Swift is becoming
the new fall day.

I breathe the cold air
While the dogs roam
Sniffing up the loamy scents
And watch the golden glow
Rise above the treed horizon.

My warm breath mists.

Star Wars: The Phantom Confession

At last I will reveal myself to the internet. At last I shall have catharsis.” – Darth Me

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The Phantom Menace premiered in theaters on May 19, 1999. I had just turned 12 two months before and I was ecstatic to see this new Star Wars film. You have to remember, in those days, Star Wars was a trilogy, a finished masterpiece in three volumes. It had been since 1983, four years before my birth. For my entire life, Star Wars was the best set of films there were for a nerd, young or old. It was “this colossus, this great legendary thing”.

A new film, a new trilogy, was announced. I scoured the young internet for news, images, clips, rumors and at dial-up speed, fuzzy jpegs revealed themselves for my viewing pleasure. Articles kept me fascinated. There wasn’t much being disseminated, remember, again, this was before Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and every other network. We had no smart phones, no texting, no social media. I remember reading articles in actual magazines and the newspaper about this new Star Wars film. I cut out pictures from pages and savored images of Qui-Gon Jinn, whom I mistook for Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Jake Lloyd and Ewan McGregor whom I thought were playing Anakin Skywalker. I also remember savoring images of the Naboo starfighter: graceful, sleek, and deadly. Much of my information also came from LEGO, who had just signed a deal with Lucasfilm to produce Star Wars branded and based Lego sets. Most of my early spoilers came from LEGO fan club magazines that depicted ships, characters, and locations in brick form. Pepsi had also made a marketing deal in which every can of every variety of soda featured a different character image with a printed backstory that you could collect. Even Taco Bell got in on the marketing with their stupid chihuahua.  It was all glorious and amazing and wonderful. I annoyed my family and friends silly because I would not stop talking about the new Star Wars film. It was to be the best thing EVER.

A few days, or weeks, I don’t remember exactly, into the premier my dad took myself and my brother to a Saturday afternoon showing of The Phantom Menace and I floated into the theater. I absorbed every sound, image, and musical cue with delight … except … except, something wasn’t quite right. Jar Jar Binks wasn’t funny, like he was supposed to be. There were fart jokes, in the middle of John William’s grand score even! Some bits blew my pre-teen mind – Darth Maul versus the Jedi – podracers roaring around Tatooine, but mostly it was boring with a shine and long with excitement. I didn’t realize it then, but every time thereafter that I saw it, my smile was less broad and the twinkle in my eye shrank. I remember visiting my grandfather, perhaps the next summer, and convincing him to Pay-Per-View rent The Phantom Menace. It was a day long thing, where you could watch it over and over again for 24 hours. I must have watched it 8 or 9 times that day. Over and over again. It was amazing! It was Star Wars! but it wasn’t quite the Star Wars I loved and had grown up with.

Truth is: I loved The Phantom Menace. Even with Jar Jar and the fart joke. In those early days, I couldn’t get enough of it. It wasn’t until 2002’s Attack of the Clones that I began to become disillusioned. 2005’s premier of Revenge of the Sith arrived and I was in college. It failed to end the new trilogy properly, but I had lost my love. Star Wars was nothing more than the Old Trilogy, as it was now known, and the new films were dead to me. I even spent time methodically watching Menace, Clones, and Sith and tearing them systematically apart on my blog (which you can still read under the Star Wars tab). I made a reputation among friends and a presence online by hating the prequels.

But. But. I did love Menace. I thought Clones had good parts. I figured Sith was mostly there. I don’t know when or why I let other people’s opinions and acidity eat through my heart of enjoyment. I like plenty of badly written movies that are chock full of bad performances and cheesy effects. So I suppose now we are here, at the end of my vitriol to admit a love I once held dear.

I haven’t watched the Prequel Trilogy in years, now, and I feel a strange urge and longing to do so. Maybe it is the 11 year old in me that collected Mountain Dew cans for their images of Yoda and Qui-Gon Jinn. Maybe it is the 12 year old that convinced my grandfather to let me spend a day watching a movie ad nauseam. Maybe it is the 13 year old that treasured old LEGO magazines and their pages of colorful LEGO Star Wars sets.

At least I am willing to admit it to myself, and now, the world that reads my blog: unabashed, unashamed, unfettered: I loved Star Wars The Phantom Menace a long time ago, and may yet love it. And that’s ok.

Embrace your famdoms, nerd out, rock on, love what you love. It makes you you and no one else. And that is the best thing ever.

A Tale of Two Parts

Part the First

This is difficult for me to write. Yesterday, January 3rd, would have been my seventh wedding anniversary had I not been divorced. Unlike a spouse who died and is no longer upon the planet Earth, I am dealing with a different kind of loneliness. It is the loneliness of no longer being wanted. I know, approximately, where my ex-wife is, and approximately, what she is doing. And that hurts, because she isn’t here, and she isn’t with me. Once upon a fairy tale time, she was right by my side doing what I was doing, or I was by her side, doing what she was doing. We were together. But now she is beside someone else, and they are doing things together. And that hurts spectacularly.

I don’t know what the time period is supposed to be for getting over a spousal rejection, but I am apparently not there yet as I still memorialize a coupling that has uncoupled. I am sure I will get there at some point, but in the meantime, I am stumped by a simple question: now that she has moved on and put me behind her and someone else beside her, I am a free man. I am as if I was never married. That thought gives me some release, some comfort, but what do I do now to anchor that thought in reality? Do I burn all her love letters in a massive bonfire of dead desire? Do I delete all our pictures and digital memories as if scorching cyberspace? Do I forget her name and erase her influence from my life? Is such a thing even possible? I signed up for eternity. I was hers forever…until I wasn’t. I don’t know what to do.

Except, maybe I do know. I will do what I have done since the first noniversary rolled around: keep moving forward.

Part the Second

It is a brand new year, an entity I am calling twenty17. Thus far in my life I have mostly eschewed this whole idea of “New Year’s Resolutions” in which one is hereby resolved by the arbitrary Gregorian calendar to radically change one’s life in some way. It has seemed like so much hokum to think that just because some number has rolled over on a time keeping device, one is now able to change their life. In my nearly 30 years of experience, I haven’t seen that to be particularly possible. But here I am, about to resolve something on so public a forum as to not be ignored.

I resolve two things, first: to read more. I was a voracious reader in my youth. You would often find me curled up on the couch, or stretched out on a bed with book in hand, eagerly flipping pages, absorbing content like the proverbial sponge absorbs water. In the last few years, my reading has slackened pace to have almost stopped completely. The only reading ritual that continues is my annual reading of the Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, and the Silmarillion. Even that reading has become less a pleasure and more a chore. But I want to regain the magic of reading, and that means actually reading again. Part and parcel with my goal of reading more is to actually find a local library and get a library card so that I might read to my heart’s contentment.

Secondly may it be resolved: to write more. I used to be a prolific writer, at least one who wrote semi often about current events or currently occurring thoughts. However, as can be seen from a perusal of the right hand column on this blog labeled “archives”, there is a gap from 2015 to 2017 in which I didn’t write anything. This I want to remedy. I won’t resolve to write every day, or even every week, but I do promise to write at least once a month. So far, I am doing spectacularly as this will be my second long form essay in this month alone. Go me!

Part the Epilogue

Hereby it can be seen that these two parts join together. In leaving behind one form of life, I pick up another, and move forward. And that perhaps is the answer. Hannah, I sincerely hope, will live a long and happy life, and thus we may even cross paths again in the future. The only way I live life with that knowledge and survive that eventuality with any semblance of me is to create a once and future life that is again mine own.

Excelsior!

As of Yet Untitled

I’m terrified. Honestly scared. I am frightened that I won’t be any good at this “writing” thing. It’s been over a year since I’ve written anything of note. Sure, I’ve penned a few poems in recent months, but the last time I wrote something longer form was just after The Force Awakens was released in theaters in 2015.

I have an image in my mind’s eye. I stand upon a precipice, about to fall over. One wrong step, and I plummet to my death. I should be staring at the setting sun, watching the moon rise and the stars appear, but instead my gaze is locked on the long dark below me. Inside my shoes, my toes are desperately curling, trying in vain to clamp on to the narrow ledge in front.

This image represents my fear of failure. It has been so strong it has kept me from writing for over a year. I don’t know where exactly it came from, what manifested it inside my brain, but it has been there: lurking.

I have many things I want to write about: Rogue One, Passengers, the untimely death of a princess turned general, my not-7th wedding anniversary, the passing of the most logical being in the galaxy, a few new year’s resolutions, all the death and gloom that was twenty16, and the list continues. But I have been afraid. Afraid that my opinion is not valid, afraid that I won’t have the words, afraid of what she will think, afraid to memorialize too late, afraid to say the wrong thing…afraid.

The abyss rises to grab me.

I had an interesting experience this evening. I am still not sure what it was I saw, but as I was locking my door, on my way out to pick up dinner, I saw something out of the corner of my eye, something dark and shadowy that disappeared behind the corner of the house as soon as I focused on it. I don’t put faith in ghosts or apparitions, though because of medication that I take I have been known to hallucinate from time to time, except only when I don’t take it. I thought about what I saw all during the drive out and back. Initially, I was spooked. I had no idea what I had I seen, if I had in fact seen anything, and that unknowning, that uncertainty scared me a little. I’m a grown man, almost 30, in fact, and I am not given to remaining afraid. Except…

Except I haven’t written in over a year out of sheer bloody panic.

In the end I decided, on my way home, that what I had seen was the coattail of my future time traveling self ducking out of the way so that I wouldn’t see myself and thereby destroy the space time continuum. (Or pass out from shock.) Instantly, I was unafraid.

And here I am writing. It still took me a few more hours of mindless mobile Scrabble and Ticket to Ride before I pulled myself off my bed and settled down in front of my laptop to actually put one word after another. And somewhere, in my head, in my heart, deep in the outer rim of my soul, I am still afraid. But I cannot let that fear stop me from doing what I love and that is to write. So I will write. I will write about Carrie Fisher, Leonard Nimoy, my ex-wife, movies that I have fallen in love with, what I have resolved this new year, the late twenty-teens and so on.

I am stronger than my fear. I back from the ledge to catch the last few rays of sunlight fading into twilight blue. I write.

Celebrating Life

On April 3rd, The Fast and the Furious 7 will hit theaters, and with it the sharp reminder of franchise star Paul Walker’s death last year. He died doing what he loved: driving.

Today, March 12th, is my birthday.

There was a time when I wasn’t sure I was going to see Furious 7. I wasn’t even sure that I was going to see today. That time was not that long ago, and I haven’t told anyone what I am about to say now, except for my therapist who helped me live through it.

Several months ago now, but still recent enough to haunt me, I was sure I was going to die, and not in any macabre way, I was sure I was going to kill myself.  I literally saw no future beyond January 1st. My depression had started to overwhelm me, and I was drowning in it. Days were literally as well as figuratively dark and cold. I looked up and saw no sky; I looked out and saw no horizon. I was alone and I was suffocating on nothing.

I had one thing before me: my sister’s wedding. I had nothing after that. I was determined that I was going to attend the wedding and have one last good time and then end it all. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” as the saying goes. I knew I was going to see my immediate family at the wedding, and so I could say one last goodbye and be done with life on this terrestrial sphere.

The wedding was as wonderful as could be. It was warm, sunny, and the happiest of occasions, but a darkness and a chill had settled in my core. I knew my days were shorter rather than longer. Once the wedding week was done so was I. I used up any positive energy I had left smiling for pictures and keeping it together so as to not ruin my sister’s big moments.

I returned from the wedding and stared down a calendar of days until the 1st of January. I manage to stave off hospitalization because I told my therapist I wouldn’t do anything to myself until at least then, but I knew that day was coming.

I welcomed it. I cherished the thought of the final release. When one has nothing to live for, one tends to think of the end as blissful nothingness. I hoped, and still do, that there is no afterlife. One life is enough pain and struggle and weariness without another life to endure. When I do die, I want that to be it, for it all to be over. I don’t want to live again, or to  live eternally. As the philosopher Yoda said on his death bed, “Forever sleep: earned it, I have.” I want to earn my forever sleep.

More than anything, that dark December of last year, I wanted my forever sleep. My weariness screamed for it.

And then, just when it was almost over, just when I had the bottle of pills in my hand, when I grew tired of setting it back down, unopened, just then I found a glimmer of something else.

Hope.

Hope for a future, for a better tomorrow shone through my deepest depression. I decided to make a radical decision for life instead of against it. I decided that January 1st was not going to be my last day on earth. I can’t tell you exactly where that minuscule drop of hope came from, or why I decided to delay death, but I did. In my mind, I simply decided to see exactly how long I could stretch life. At the time, I didn’t know how long that would be. At least another day. At most, a week. Here I am, three and a bit months later, still going.

Along the way, I decided to move to Texas, to physically grasp a brighter, warmer, sunnier future. I decided to leave all I could behind me, and strike out for something new. I am making my run for the border, eating and drinking and being merry for tomorrow I live.

In just a few weeks, I will sit down in a theater and watch the Fast and the Furious 7, and silently, simultaneously, mourn Paul Walker’s death and honor his life, and I will do what I have been doing since January 1st: I will live fast and furiously, one quarter mile at a time, until I have earned a natural end and a forever sleep.

No more do I contemplate my own death, at my hand or by Nature’s. It will come when it comes. For now, there is living to do. And never more have I been aware of that than today, on my birthday, as I turn 28 and start a brand new year. I honestly did not think I would see today, but here the sun sets and this day is almost over. Another one is coming.

 

Ca$h for Clunker$ is Not for Me

Being in the middle of the complex process involved in purchasing a vehicle, I feel I can now, at least a little bit, comment on the government’s Cash for Clunkers program.

First, and my biggest problem with the program, is that in order to get a credit for your clunker you must purchase a NEW car. USED cars do not apply. Now, I understand that the idea is to get rid of older, less fuel efficient and more pollutive cars, but it seems that the program considers any car manufactured before 2009 to be a clunker. I am a college student, and cannot afford both tuition and car payments on a new car. I can only afford to purchase a used car outright, and hopefully for only a few thousand dollars. However, given that most new cars lose several thousand dollars in value as soon as you drive it off the lot, that usually makes them cheaper alternatives to purchase under the moniker “used” than would be a “new” car. As far as I know, we have been making relatively fuel efficient and cleaner cars since the turn of the millennium. What I really want to know is this: why can I not trade in my 1995 “clunker” (which I can afford) and purchase a used car manufactured after the year 2000?

In particular, I have been searching for a Jeep to purchase. My father owned a Wrangler at one point, and I have very nostalgic feelings about Jeeps. Furthermore, I don’t intend to drive my Jeep farther than six miles a day, simply needing transport back and forth to college for classes, and occasionally to the local Giant store for groceries, so fuel efficiency isn’t a terribly big deal to me. However, I have found that most used Jeeps made before 2000 are within my price range of $3500, that is, if you can find someone willing to part with their Jeep. Most of these Jeeps are 87-91’s, which, unfortunately, is within the Cash for Clunkers timeframe. If any of these owners wish to trade in their old Jeeps for credit towards a new one, my available pool evaporates. Unfortunately, my troubles are not over. Those Jeeps that are made after about 1998 that are available on the used car circuit are likely to still be in condition and mileage to make them priced around $6-7000, which is almost twice what I can afford, that is if they are being sold at all, because they are likely to be more fuel efficient, and still owned by somebody because they aren’t clunkers, just a few years old.

Here I come to my point: if the Cash for Clunkers program applied to used cars manufactured after 2000, I could indeed afford a used 2001 Jeep for $7000 because the program would net me at least $3500, which combined with my own budget would allow me to get a vastly cleaner and more fuel efficient Jeep, but in my price range. And isn’t that the point? Instead of driving a 1995, or worse, a 1988 Jeep, I would have one at least 15 years newer, but without having to pay for a brand new vehicle.

In general, I like the idea of an incentive to help people decide to drive cars better for the environment and that conserve fossil fuel usage, but that doesn’t demand the purchase of something new, or the total destruction of the old.

However, I am very glad to have found, and be taking possession of this afternoon, a 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee that has a new engine and transmission and will (hopefully) last me a few years until I can trade it in for perhaps a post-2000 Jeep, which by that time will be old enough to fall within my budget, that is, if they haven’t all been wantonly destroyed.

And, let’s say nothing of my fiancee’s 1992 Toyota Camry which is still getting around 29 mpg, which isn’t the best, but is still twice what “clunkers” must be under in order to qualify for the upper tier of credit ($4500). Why destroy such a fuel efficient and affordable car (she got hers used for $2300)?

I just simply do not understand destroying valuable vehicles, and in the process, an entire segment of the economy, for as we all know the Used Car market is an old and honored American tradition. We may be cleaning up the air, or at least, not polluting if further, but who will care if they are out of work or unable to afford transportation?