Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Alamo

I know I haven't posted in awhile...hard to stay focused witht this traveling lifestyle... Just finished a trip in which I saw the Alamo for the first time. I didn't set out to find it but before I knew it, there it was, across the street. Small in comparison to the modern structures...It's next to a MALL!(Wheeeeeeeee!)...but SOLID. To think that such a small building is at the center of a swirl of mythic legend and folklore...Glad I got to see it...GaP

Monday, April 02, 2007

Cosmic Correspondence

Salut, Russ... Ray and I were having this conversation about friendship. Usually in a friendship, there is an iniator and a recipient. After many years of writing letters, I discovered that I was generally the iniator. I am convinced that most of my friendships(or romantic notions thereof) would shrivel up on the vine without effort on my part. I am pleased that you're an exception to that rule. Everyone else appreciates and comes to EXPECT a regular note from you(the "general you")...and when you STOP, they have the balls to ask if you died or something. Or you get "haven't heard from you in awhile." After awhile, you just realize that it's not really WORTH effort for all of the diminishing returns... So how do friendships flourish or begin? I've given out my "bizcard" to colleagues I meet while on the road...extending the hand of friendship if they should ever be in New Hampshire...Most often, nothing comes of it... And I have to admit, I don't like to socialize on my time off...I DO like to send e-mails or letters...but once I falter, there is nothing coming from the other side... Ah well...whine, bitch, moan... Anyway, with all of the A320 flying I've been doing, it seems that you'd need a cosmic act of intervention for our OWN paths to cross. You know, heaven FORBID two good friends run into each other...the universe might implode or something. And speaking of writing letters, how's THIS for a paradox...I have about twelve people in my mailing list that could be considered serious Christians. While I'm ambivalent about religion in general, I AM looking forward to looking for the appropriate Easter Cards for these folks. I may not take their religion seriously but I take their FAITH and their FRIENDSHIP seriously. Does this make me a hypocrite? And should I even I bother since most of these folks aren't regular with their correspondence anyway? But it feels right and natural to do that's the criteria I'm going with... Anyway, thanks for being a good friend, Captain...GaP _________________________________________________________________________________ GaP, You raise some good points. Life is like an extended cruise on a ship; you meet great people, promise to "stay in touch," exchange e-mail addresses and such and then ... poof. Gone. One of your gifts is that you care enough to actually keep the connections of friendship repaired. You're a bridge tender. And people really appreciate it. I know they do because I do. Think about it. Unless there is an overriding reason to stay in touch, chance of sex, chance of inheritance, your friend is rich or whatever, friendships are generally acts of convenience. No, I do not think you are a hypocrite because you are looking forward to the promise of an Easter card or two from your Christian friends. You do respect their faith. If everyone had that attitude (and didn't think that the person's faith was dead wrong ... what was I reading the other day ... "we do not look for truth because there are millionsof different truths about any one thing") there wouldn't be any religious wars. Why can't we get excited about a shared celebration (not by us) of Ramadan, Chunukah, Easter or the Winter Solstice (oh, right ... that's Christmas!)? About friendship where you're actually with them, spending actual time in others' company: I don't know how to do that. Right now my fragmented life does not lend itself to that pleasant experience. It's like the boat, I want one but now I don't even have the time to go *look* at any much less * own* one! What would it be like to have an integrated, not compartmentalized, life? That is a rhetorical question, I think. Speaking of fragmentation, I now have to crank up the software and get my finances squared away. Last week I went to the Virginia Festival of the Book. I loved it! But today I have 95 e-mails, the finances are a week undone and I've a ton of other work to do. And here I sit in Columbus, Ohio. My turn to whine. Take good care, brother. Russ ____________________________________________________________________________ RussMan... Here I sit in Edmonton. Day Four. Wheeeee... Actually, I've been doing lead and having a good time with it. If someone's starts treatiung me like a lackey, I'm training myself to distance myself from it. But I WILL let some passive/aggressive soothe my ego. Nothing bombastic. Something like "forgetting" to return their coat, for example... I have a CLT layover in April, if you can believe it. Let me check on it and get back to you? Could we actually be hanging out for the THIRD time in the tenure of our friendship? WAOW. Thanks for the kind words, Russ...and fuck Religion. It's stupid. I think we're in a post-human historical simulation or something. It would explain a lot... Catch you later...GaP ___________________________________________________________________________________ GaP, I live in Charlottesville, not Charlotte. CHO vs. CLT. Unless you fly the Saab you won't be laying over in C'ville! :) Screw religion? How so? It's a major deal. We can't ignore it as a reality. Best, Russ _________________________________________________________________________________ No...but I can ignore its bullshit. Whenever some Bible-thumper goes on about their pick of subjects...homosexuality being immoral, the smugness of their dogmatic thinking(we are the CHOSEN ones...yeah, isn't EVERYONE?), and just the sheer absurdity of it all...I can just get up and walk out. Thomas Harris has written that religion has gotten a blank check since it doesn't have to back belief with critical thinking and skepticism...Basically, we have people believing in First Century Superstitions...Tiresome. All of it. I choose not to play anymore... Too bad about the non-layover...Speak soon...GaP _________________________________________________________________________________ Hi GaP, I understand your point. I'm much the same way. Over the years I've learned that the myths the religion are build upon are true (inasmuch as myths inform our soul). But always the followers get wrapped up in the dogma, then they get wrapped up in control and then we have the Inquisition and Jerry Falwell. Much can be learned by going to the original sources however. Who cares if Noah really built a big barge or if Jesus really went bodily to heaven (or was born of a virgin for that matter). What matters, it seems to me, is what these stories have to tell us about living a human life on earth. When I accept the stories as fiction I can see the messages. We do have a big problem when modern man takes a set of 2,000 year old myths and tries to hammer them into his modern life. What you're doing makes more sense; taking modern myths (in the form of super heroes) and seeing how they inform your life. Do you think Batman is real? Hell, no! Do the Invisibles roam the earth? Who cares? But the stories about them sure can teach us a lot! Getting into the modern myths is quite a wise move, my friend. Take good care, Russ _________________________________________________________________________________ Russ... Stories... I do believe you've nailed it. I always used to wonder just WHY the hell people(including myself) were enamored with stories regardless of the genre...super-heroes, romance, Westerns, espionage, horror...what have you. The point IS, we need our stories to make sense of a world where the loose ends DON'T get tied up neatly, where there ARE no sub-plots, expositions, motivations, or any discernible REASONS for the things that happen to or around us. We need stories to make help us make sense of the world/the universe...and yes, lessons can be learned from the classic story-structures. Taking the idea even further, sometimes I believe that fiction exists as an antibody---a preventative to protect reality. For example, science-fiction concepts such as overpopulation and nuclear war have been played out in novels, movies, and television as cautionary fiction...but MORE than that, they present the stories so WE DON'T HAVE TO LIVE THROUGH THEM. Almost like reality taking an antibiotic. The most current example I can give you are the scenarios on 24...First season, family kidnapping, presidential-candidate assasination attempts...Season 2...the threat of a nuke atomizing Los Angeles...Season 3, even more chilling, a terrorist threatening to release a super-virus into the U.S. population...all horrific situations that we've never REALLY had to deal with in reality...So fiction deals with it so WE won't have to? Your thoughts on this? GaP
GaP, A friend gave me a beautiful book with a Buddhist quote for each day of the year (accompanied by extraordinary photographs). Here is the quote for April 1st: "Of the ten virtuous acts spoken of in Buddhism, four are verbal; not to lie, not to engage in divisive talk, not to speak harsh words and not to engage in frivolous conversation." What do you think? Russ _________________________________________________________________________________ Russ...All good advice...but that slacker-bitch part of my personality has to have a say...Divisive talk? Sometimes. I'll say some negative things about co-workers, passengers, or whomever if they piss me off. I think of this as steam-letting somewhat. It's something I try not to over-indulge in. Lying. Some lies are necessary, unfortunately. Sometimes to others(many couldn't handle the unvarnished truth unless it's positive...So I stick with that. "It was a pleasure to meet you." "You've lost weight, haven't you?") sometimes to ourselves. I think white lies spare us from social bruising. The Japanese consider it "saving face". Harsh words? You mean like, "Hey ASSHOLE! Didn't you hear me make the seatbelt sign announcement?" "You're changing your baby's diaper just as we're about to push back? What ARE you, a fucking retard?" Yeah, that's something I try to refrain from. Frivolous. I guess the definition of that depends on the person. Talking about sports, American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, or opening the conversation with the weather...not to mention just about any public cellphone conversation...All that shit is frivolous to ME. But once again, frivolous talk is a societal lubricant. Hell, walk into any bar and any conversation between strangers begins with a nice safe sports, weather or some minor news event...Then they can build up to the big stuff. Some people have that gift of the blether, the Blarney touch...People can have a warm, engaging conversation about almost anything really. These are the people that love to chat with other people and love the company of others. They are the lubricant that makes society run better. They're the type of person you wish you could buy a beer and chat with on a regular basis...There's much to be said for someone with the gift of the patter. Amazingly, I find that I can turn it on when I'm in the Shaskeen Irish Pub. Something about the atmosphere, I guess... That's what I love about our discourse, Russ...I mean to write a simple reply and I end up writing a book...which is the nature of OUR friendship... House-sitting Bill's place today. I may watch myself a John Wayne flick...THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, anyone? Hope you're well, my good friend. Much love and warmth to you...GaP (hope that doesn't sound too granola, hippie, or homo...)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Dodged A Bullet

Salut, Doc... Just got back from a five-day trip...and completely MISSED a whiteout snowstorm/freezing rain melange that botched up everyone's weekend in New England...(Would THIS be the main reason why you don't schedule your family visiting in New England in winter-time? Can't say I blame you...) Really enjoyed the warm weather of Alburquerque, New Mexico...Dry, WARM, sunny weather and the time to ENJOY it...Took a stroll to Old Town and stumbled upon an excellent independent, hole-in-the-wall record store. One of my favorite environments to be in... While I was in a bookstore in the old town searching for post-cards, I examined the music on offer and this old cowboy-gentleman type was talking about some of the local artists featured. He was the epitome of frontier-style gentility, answering, "Yes, sir," "No sir" to whatever questions I had. I should be the one addressing HIM as such...and I did. Really not used to courteous, respectful behavior, sad to say. Therefore, I don't expect ANY from anyone and I keep my emotional distance from my fellow humans. Head-shakingly sad, innit? Anyway, Doc...I hope you and your family are well. Stay British...GaP

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Thinking Out Of The Bottle

There are some magical little moments of humanity that make it all worth it…You get a glimpse of the wonderful absurdity behind reality’s curtain that holds us all together…This morning, this…well, I guess you could call her a street person…bag-lady…whatever. She was pacing around rapidly, spouting non-sequitors to whoever was nearby. She was ambling around as if she were on a mission but she was actually aimless… Meanwhile, across the street, near the bank, there was this street-sweeper singing what sounded like an old blues song. When she came into his range, she began providing him with a counter-point beat, a marching “ha-yup,ha-yup,ha-yup!” sort of rhythm…They worked off each other, their completely different perspectives melding together into a sort of jam-session…A complete surprise and delight…something you can’t pay for or commodify. This was a glimpse into a higher-reality…or at least the wilder shores of sanity…It was a clear view of our shared humanity, how messy and incongruous we can all be to each other…and our commonality. And when I got onto the bus, this older gent, a bit slow, maybe a bit medicated, was rambling on about his childhood in Manchester and the rough-looking lady “translating” for him to the bus-driver was telling this story about how she’d been raped…All of these people…whom society wouldn’t be comfortable with, were providing me with an understanding of humanity that no classroom could ever provide, no philosopher could ever summarize… I also came to a realization yesterday. I am not really meant to be a drinker…okay, I’ll say it…I am an alcoholic…do it in caps…ALCOHOLIC. I had this long talk with Bill about it and he agreed to be my watchdog over whether I’ve had too much. So we hunkered down to watch more of 24 Season 3…I had three beers over the course of the three hours…but the whole time it was a considerable effort to slow down…I wanted to get DRUNK…and it was an effort of will to pace myself. I woke up with a slight headache. I decided that it was not something that I wanted to really deal with…but the lure of alcohol and the romance of the ribald, boozy, comraderie is a strong one…So that means I have to think of what to do if I find myself in situations where I would be offered a drink…a glass of wine or whatever? Do I pass? Do I nurse? Am I just obsessing? With booze, I seem to know when to stop but I tend to drink too fast…because I’m in a hurry to get buzzed, to get DRUNK. Not good. And that has to be addressed. In addition to this, I think I’m undergoing an identity-shift…similar to when I lost all the weight when I was a teenager, comparable to when I had to come to grips with my sexuality…I’m ready to change. I seem to be drifting out of comics(which I’m trying to resist…that’s a HUGE part of my identity that I don’t want to leave behind…), becoming closer to another person who is VERY important to me…important enough not to botch up with nascent alcoholism…,and there also seems to be this need for clarity. Maybe it’s a manifestation of finally getting off my ass and doing something with my life…finding success and fulfillment in a way that works for ME… Let the adventure continue…GaP

Friday, February 16, 2007

Working For Sauron

On 2/15/07, G@P wrote: Salut, Russ... The morale at work is so bad, that it leaves me bitchy and whiny about my lot in life and everyone around me is pretty damned tired of hearing it. What no one can seem to tell me is how the situation would improve if I jumped ship over to another WORLD IS FLAT/WAL-MART situation. At least HERE, I have a fair amount of time off...and at work, there seems to be more than ample time to catch up on reading. But make no mistake...change is needed. The big question mark is WHAT? Are you a NETFLIX person? Can't believe I didn't hop onto that sooner... In the middle of FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING...and while I'm FAR more ready to appreciate it now than I was in high school, topology-travel tales take some patience on my part to get through... How are you doing? GaP How am I doing? Well, GaP, I'm bitchy, angry and tired. Tomorrow I go to the schoolhouse in MSP for recurrent. My heart is not in it. I'm suffering from recurrent headaches, my blood pressure is pegged at max for the first time ever ... and something has to change. How can we create a new reality? What are we doing wrong? Are we living in Hell and don't know it? I did my books and found that I'd spent $5,000 more in January than I brought in. That kind of cash flow drain is unsustainable. Okay, all that said, today I realized that I must quit concentrating on the negatives. In reinforcement of that idea, the Universe gave me a message. I opened the mail, expecting a bill, and found a $700 refund check from my insurance company. Then I checked my stocks and found I'd made several thousand dollars over the last 24 hours. So it's not all bad. We need to stick together and fight the dragons. We haven't done all this study and reading about myths, heroes and personal paths for nothing! I have a hard time with Tokien, too. So much so that I've never gotten past the first couple of chapters. There's a lot in there but so far it's not accessible to me. You have my admiration! Well, brother, we've got to learn to "hold our mouths right," stick to an idea of a better version of reality and, one day, we'll be sitting on the boat having a single malt and good long talk. We ain't gonna fix it all, not even the smalles part of it, that's not what life on earth is about, but we can get our spirits and minds into a better place. I believe that. Now, how do we do it? Beating up on each other is not the way. Yep, the morale sucks! Big time! I've been saying to the flight attendants in the briefing, "We're going to take care of each other, close the door on the Dumpster Doug Show and the funky corporation and keep our passengers safe. Please know I do take your concerns seriously." Since I've started saying these simple things, I've noticed I've gotten a more "thank you's," some real smiles, and more en route calls from the back, "Do you need water? We don't have any food but I just wanted to check on you. Do you need anything else?" than before. Just knowing that I genuinely (I do not say these things to blow smoke up anybody's ass) care for their interests and concerns seems to have a positive, though temporary, effect on morale (It is just too bad the skipper continues to grind his teeth and crunches on pills to fend off the migraines!). Keep the faith! Russ ---------------------------------------------------------------------- "We are raised to honor all the wrong explorers and discoverers--thieves planting flags, murderers carrying crosses. Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams." ---Peter S. Beagle, praising the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Slang Exchange

Salut, Doc... You ever consider visiting the colonies during winter? Like, say, the Christmas break? Right now, you're missing out on what we New Englanders call a "nor'easter"...We're slated to get 24 hours of the white stuff covered with a nice icy glazing to top it all off... Candace harks from this area of the States, right? I'm sure she's familiar with the term. An observation of the mother-tongue crossing the great transAtlantic: The crew was waiting for a part to show up for insallation...It was being flown out from Detroit to Newark airport. "What a cock-up," I mumbled. "What did you say?" the Captain asked. "Are you from England?" "No," I replied. "But I like the vernacular." "What does that mean?" asked the First Officer. "A snafu," I fumbled. "A screw-up." "A cluster-f**k", the Captain offered. Doing my part to make sure that all the idiom exchange isn't ALL one way...GaP

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Exhaustive Self-Loathing...

I just did my first domestic trip after a long vacation...and while it was basically easier, it drove home the fact that I really don't want to be doing the jet-set thing anymore. I find that I'm putting up a wall around myself, blankly staring through people, scraping through with the bare minimum... I'm just so jaded with humanity. Everyone and everything seems so utterly pointless, trite, and absurd to me. I see people as sheep...a bunch of vapid zombies yakking into their cellphones, cheering on the latest mass-media sports event, or filling the air with inanities like the weather, what they do for a living, or what exotic location they just came from. A bunch of labels believing themselves to be individuals... I wish I could reach out, get to know people, engage in friendly small talk but I can't really see the point. It never leads to anything like friendships or meaningful conversation. I know it takes work to CHANGE, to cultivate positivity...but it's too exhausting. So I put up walls, make as little eye contact as possible, limit my conversation. I'm a robot keeping my distance... I blame the job but the real truth is the picture I included above. How do you find your path or passion when you think that everything is pointless and ineffectual? Most of all yourself? In a world where everything is commerce and commodity, how are you able to be anything more than a sellout or somebody's meal-ticket? Sorry. My thoughts aren't very well-organized...Let's hear it for the long, dark mid-winter afternoon of the soul...