Friday, October 19, 2018

First of All

First of all, first of all, let me tell you, that indeed, I am a momma's boy.  At this late age, late in the game, I'm coming to grips with that, and of how I've spent my life.  The problem is, you see, that she was the one who taught me to read, even when I was four and didn't want to read, there with Richard Scarry and the help of drawings I liked and Huckleberry, the cat, who was me.  And then I got it, and reading what not so bad after all.

Drew I did, a lot.  But eventually, the words themselves came to replace the drawing, after they had trained my eye, to awkwardly pick up what there is in writing.

Mom's house has always been a pile of books, everywhere, and my own disheveled piles of books, glorious as they are, are getting to be the thirty-years-earlier version, even creeping on my bed now, as her bed has been overrun.

And so, and so...  my problem is one of self-acceptance, and perhaps it always has.  I do some yoga out with my mat in a garden on top the flag stones warmed by the October sun.  My guts groan a bit.   My lower back is still sore, but a shoulder stand and a better plough today than yesterday, and anyway I am off today.  I do not wish the phone to ring, and I enjoy the peace that can only be found in yoking the body and the self within to yoga.

Light layer of cotton clouds move in on the sunshine, and I go back inside with my mat, to refresh my cup of muddled lime, turmeric and sea salt, with hot water.

Self-acceptance...  what does that look like?  What does that mean for an old mamma's boy who can't keep up with the silverback gorillas, male and husbands, providers, neat lives, call out the little guy on his falsehoods of livelihoods and career self-lies...

What does that mean as one works himself, his body, limbs, chakras, spine into better balance and tune...  What do all these books about mean, if I had the clarity that has to be reinforced somehow has a habit, in quietude, peace and quiet...

What if... what if I were allow myself the space to be myself, to not try to fit in with places and people with whom I don't belong, trying half-heartedly, knowing subconsciously that the act is not me, and no wonder they keep the illusion that is me at a distance, not seeing the deeply sensitive god-forbid-male and the spirit within the act.

Fitting in, is so automatic, of course, these days, the culture wars, the culture police...

How to admit after years and years of act, hey, friends, this isn't really me.

Yes, one day with my mother old I went and did yoga in the back in the garden and saw the inner me wanting finally to come out, as comfortable as I had been when I was a kid, reading, drawing....


There is something about that old pose, the Lotus.  Strength is a good word for it.   Personal, inner, steady in the flux of the world.  Not pandering to a crowd.


I have always trusted my mother.  But she, because of her childhood and what she saw, her parents coming home drunk from the restaurants and causing a scene and fighting, is an anxious sort, hard to work with, questioning the motives of others, even as she is politically astute.

Immediately after college, I was just about her only help, when she went off to grad school, out on her own.  And without knowing it, this troubled me, depressed me some, enough so that I never really had the energy to start my own career or life.  There was Hilde from my hometown, who I was in bed with at my father's, but I had to go help my mom move from one apartment to another in a different town, showing up late, with her crying over the kitchen sink.

She's sucking the life out of you, my brother would tell me.

But what can you do?  Try to find some meaning in life...


Poor old dreary O'Leary...

My mind is shit as I wake.  Have to go rent the car for the trip up to mom.

What are these stones, these bones
Of which I am built...  are they alive
As much as me?
Just as I am, too?
Wise enough men tell me it is so,
That even the atoms of the deepest
thickness of our bones
change themselves out for
Fresh ones,
As if ordering carry out.
New, no need to do dishes.
One more thing we exchange,
in constant flux,
with the world,
the universe, the stardust around us.
But in my hand, even,
along the knuckle,
here they are, old high crags
And mountain tops,
And undersea continental shelves,
Or old plateaus pushed upward, left
There when all else got washed away.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

I went and did some yoga in the backyard.  Mid-October.  Sunny.  Blue sky.  My lower back stiff and compressed, slowly going into the simple basic easy poses to take at one's own pace...  the satisfaction of receiving the sun's rays and the beauty of daylight.  Back too tight for a fully reaching Plow pose, but a good headstand.  Muscles work together, though for the practitioner yoga is always a welcome mystery.


Of many yoga poses one feels strong in the Lotus.  The back is straight, chakras aligned.  A warmth going through the pelvis and gluteus.  The torso has a sudden fresh strong feeling brought over from Warrior Pose and Tree.    The serpent flame is lit, keeping the nervous system invigorated, as it can only be by motion and body alignment and bodily activity.


The lotus flower of translucent reality shines through.  Perhaps there is no God, a personal bearded guy in the sky, in particular, but yet still, and always, there are wise people, ones who can express that which seems fictional, is like a fiction, like all things human beings must believe in to cooperate in systems, religion, government, banking, tribe, nation, but which is in keeping with the deepest and truest understandings we are capable of in considering our greater reality as living in this existence we share.

To tell, to speak of, deeper reality, one will never be paid, never be rich upon financial terms for doing such work, but yet will be rewarded, in kind, only asking for a modest occasional understanding, along with a basic sense of what is right and true and good.


Tending bar, aside from its physical delivery of all things of a good dinner, had the deeper, the spiritual element, the serving of a fundamental need we must include in all standards of life.

Tending bar was a good thing.  A thing of the Mohammed's welcoming and inclusive community Mosque as originally intended, no judgement, no requirement of particular belief in order to find belonging.

Tending bar might have even been exactly what I'd been looking for in life, though, like yoga, it remained strange and refreshing.


In a way it was gratuitously easy to be nice to people, to smile and have fun with them, to allow for some irreverent humor.  The old Dying Gaul was the perfect place for it.  In that I always had great faith in.  John F. Kennedy's a place to go to every day, to not go crazy.

The humor and hospitality combined with the precise motions and movements of keeping bar, of keeping water glasses filled on the tables, clearing plates, pouring wine, making the occasional gimlet or martini, comedy of physical and verbal kinds mixed with a mild non-violent martial art...  Only the tediousness of trying to get everyone in and out of the bar's mouth, its opening out on the dining room, complicated by the passing on of dirty plates and the dishwasher needing to be door down and open to clean the next load of glassware coming out warm and in need of being wiped with cloth napkins.

At the end of the night dodging the busboy as he huffed and puffed, sweeping up, taking out the bottles in the recycling bin, the trash bag, the dirty linens, as quickly as he could.  Included in the list that things that made me nervous, as nervous as the arrival of the late night people...


Growth in anything has the potential to be of the organic kind, the growth of a sapling into a tree.  I figured so when I left one restaurant life and moved on to another more personal one.   Does the living being in the state of evolving through growth and increasing in maturity know particularly where that might take him?



The original homo sapien, a forager, had many talents, much expertise, great dexterity, knowledge of his world on an intimate basis.   On top of that, he was in decent shape, and nor did he have too many possessions to weigh himself down.

The restaurant was the closest kind of a life to that, that I could find, for better or worse.  I found this inherent honesty toward the original and still living creature that had evolved, having evolved in a natural setting.

I'd say by my birth, in 1965, this original creature was about to go through changes to the world which would bring great stress to him.  That's why I looked up to Shane MacGowsn, as a vestige, a surviving member of those original talented human creatures, before we all got industrialized..:

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

I guess some days you write in a state of uncertainty as to whether or not you've said the thoughts that pass through the brain.  Did I say that, or maybe I didn't...

Perhaps some day one will look back at their work and see it as a state of being "on the road."

The bar is like a river.  It's never the same, always flowing.  You put your foot in it, but it is change as much as it is the same.  No mood is the same.  No conversation, no spark of hospitality is ever the same.

I have an affection for restaurant people.  Chefs.  Some of the front of the house people, if they were cool with you.  It was the cool ones in whom I felt a need, and I wanted to help them out.  And I thought, perhaps in being able to help them out, in whatever small way  I could, I would be then closer to discovering the things of deeper meaning and that sort of a thing.


After work I went to the Safeway.  I'd been on the road for a week, visiting with mom, helping her out.  The downstairs server had told me she would be floating between to the two floors, and I was busy from the when the door opened, and held back from doing certain last minute things on account of being bitched at by the boss for getting frustrated one night and lightly punching the door to the bar closet.  We were short staffed that night.  And then here we are, unprepared, and the place is filling up and it's jazz night.  My Uber friend turned out to be Liberian, and we had a good chat.

Somewhere along the line I've learned that some people take to being helped out.  And there are other people who are less gracious, more expectant perhaps.  And who knows which kind of person one is himself.  Perhaps there are people, perhaps like me, who are so intent on helping other people out that they are so stubbornly independent that they have a hard time asking.  Thinking, I mean, it's a given.  Of course people need to be helped out!  Don't be so selfish...

To paraphrase Wilde, no great artist ever sees things as they really are.  If he did, he would cease to be an artist.

Monday, October 15, 2018

When the barman needs it, his friends come to him to support him.

The chef's friend, lovely lady from Cote D'Ivoire, an artist, comes to help me mourn the sudden passing away of the long time regular.  She reinforces the support the chef has for my place at the old bistrot.  We talk about reading the Old Testament.

The moral support of work shines on me again.  You put so much into it, she tells me.  It's your bar. Give the chef a call.

And I feel better about things, having found the Biblical dignity of working the God's vineyard, administering to His vines.

I turn on the Bose to listen to the radio for work, news on Trump's politics, winning the next battle, his focus, and it is all bad parenting, very bad.


With Carman, late at night, playing guitar as a tribute to Uli, I returned, in the Fall, to the Bible.  To the spirituality of work, by which I mean.  And for the first time in a long time, I took breaths without as much fear and generalized anxiety.  I had found the essence of my job, and as I say, it was one hundred percent a spiritual practice, which sometimes, blinded by concerns, we do not see.

I suppose such things can only come through stress and journeys...

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Dear Lord, one true sentence.


It is raining, lighter now, and over the hills with orange and yellow and still some green in the trees, I can hear a football game announcer, and then as I walk in the parking lot, The National Anthem.  It's roughly one thirty in the afternoon, and I've been trying to get on the road, leaving my mother's town home apartment, to drive back to Washington, D.C.  In my own clutter and hers, I cannot find my second pair of eyeglasses, the ones with the James Dean clip-on sunglass lenses, horn-rimmed, the black RayBan case my heavier pair, graduated distance to reading, came in.  I have to drive south, a long ways, the highway.  Into the sun as it lowers in the afternoon sky as I race toward Harrisburg,

I went back into the house several times, mom telling me, get on the road already.  I'm better at packing now, an LL Bean canvas large tote bag, a rolling suitcase, my green air mattress, a backpack. I have it all, but when I look through the rental white Malibu I cannot confirm I have this pair of glasses.  My lower back hurts.  I'm not looking forward to being on the road seven hours.  I was thinking of driving back yesterday.

The day before, as the doctor recommended, I took mom down to Wayne's drugstore to get her a flu shot.  The local Rite Aid was out of the Shingrex vaccine, and I needed the second part of it, and so I asked, and they said, at the counter, sure, no problem.  Mom was in the room getting her flu shot, then the guy asked me in.  He loaded up the needle, mixing two liquids from small vials.  "You're going to be feeling flu-like symptoms," he said.  My arm hurt the first time around.  The second one is different, he explained, as far as the body's reaction, having been primed by the first part of the vaccine.

We walked out into the day and continued on to the Port City Deli there on the main street, the wind gusting off the lake.

And the next day, I woke up aching all over and not wanting to move.  Not the day to be driving.  One more day with Mom, why not.  She kindly lets me retreat to my air mattress, my coat over me, after lunch, and I fall asleep.  Sleep has not been easy up here.


In helping me look for my eyeglasses case, Mom, coming over to the car in her bathrobe as the rain started up again, was bent over going through my thitngs.  "Oww!   God damn it"  Her finger tip is bleeding.  I feel my posture sag.   Yes, I know what had happened. my toilet kit, my Harry's razor.

Back in the house, a paper towel over her index finger.  At the sink.  I pour some rubbing alcohol on another paper towel, and this hurts her.    Oww ow, ouch!  And the blood is still coming, not dramatically, but enough to make a presentation.

Somewhere in all of this, as I go out to walk it off, as she tells me, as I am about to yell out something, as she sits in her old Eames chair... Mom, keep it elevated.  Keep the pressure on...  I find my glasses case, hiding in the side door low compartment underneath the driver's armrest.   Yes, of course.  Found it.  I bring some witch hazel over with the roll of paper towels.  It still hurts her fingertip to the touch, but not as much.  Her eyes still widen.  She has a book of Seamus Heaney in her lap, spirited to her, along with the long thin tortoiseshell calico part siamese cat.  I administer a small glass of chardonnay in a tumbler.  You're right mom, you are taking this all very well.  And the walk helped, even if it was a sad one in a sad parking lot in October with the rain and the sound of local football game.

Look on the bright side, we got a lot done.  But I feel sad, the first time she's not coming out to wave to me good bye as I drive away, waving back, eyes filling up.  She is, after all, a lovely person, even as she is.


An hour later, I am out of the rain, driving, listening to NPR, about illegal shark fishing in El Salvador and the related human trafficking...  pulling into the rest stop over looking a beautiful valley parallel to the highway.  Stiffly, getting out of the car.   I call her, on her cell, she picks up.  It's better, but still oozing.   Shit.  I go in and use the restroom.  There are two young African American woman behind a folding table, raising money for the local cross country team.  I put a dollar bill in the cup, say thanks, go look at the large map with the you are here.  Beautiful part of New York State.  Beautiful streams and rivers, the Otselic...  I look back over to the young ladies, as them where their meets are.  Johnson City...  I ask them about the river valley I saw once, and yes, they ran at Whitney Point recently.   "Yeah, I ran cross country...  Meet days made me very nervous.  Just wanted to hide at in the back of the bus and vomit..."   "Yes, the competitions are fast!"  and we all laugh.



At fifty three, 
no more winning for me.
A conscientious objector to the race,
one who'd rather just run, as he did as a kid,
over the high and rolling hills of farm country.
I'm one who'll never catch up, too far behind,
even at such pace.

I'm sure somewhere,
it's written in the genes, in code.
The younger brother goes behind to take care
of mom.  Intrinsically, he values hers,
the books upon the shelf, the cat,
the clutter, the attempt at writing,
a life of letters.
The older brother, far far ahead now.
Your own fault, or flaw,
and now it's come to this.



Friday, September 28, 2018

One true sentence...  Poor old Hemingway.  It sounds like the thought of one trying to survive.  If he can write, then he can continue, the old circular process of surviving for writing, and also by writing.


Few knew how hard it was, carrying the entertainment of the dining room and the bar going for four straight night, then on top of that your friends and connections, on top of that the late night people, sitting there, expecting entertainment out of an exhausted creature, who then must turn to wine to bear the ending of the night.

Jesus, of course, loves them all.  But on the day off he is done, he cannot even get up out of bed, hardly to get a glass of water.    His mood is low.    His problem is one involved with being too kind, with the natural good mood that comes out of him when he is around people, oddly enough.

The expression of selflessness, the same as the Buddha's recognition of the illusion of self...

The Christian's sense that Jesus is always there to forgive, always there to save... deeply embedded, that there is always Jesus... omnipresent, omnipotent... just as the simplest and most pure reality...



Non duality.  "Father, why doest thou forsake me..."  is the same as  "I had it in me all along..."