Of Sunsets and Sentimentality

IMG_1874another spectacular sunset for a less than spectacular day

There’s nothing quite like a magnificent sunset to calm a man’s senses and allow him to put things into perspective for a few moments in an otherwise listless and godforsaken day.  We had a remarkable sunset last night in the Ozarks, and again tonight, and I felt like sharing my shitty iPhone pics on this blog.  It rained damn near all day yesterday (a miserable downpour worthy of building an ark), but as the sun began to sink over the horizon, the rain ceased and the sky opened up just enough to put on one hell of a show.  It was a much needed show, too.

Anymore, most of my days are spent mired in despondency and regret to a debilitating degree.  Fortunately, I’ve been busy enough at work as of late to keep my mind off of unpleasant things (idle hands and all that), but as soon as I return home and am left to my own devices, the loneliness becomes too unbearable to ignore.  I keep waiting for circumstances to change and for things to get better, or at the very least to become more palatable, but they never do.  Which is why it’s so important for someone such as myself to take the time to appreciate something as simple and powerful as a beautiful sunset.  Sometimes a sunset makes all the difference.

IMG_1887tonight’s sunset, as seen from a nursing home parking lot

For far too long now I’ve been telling myself that things could always be worse, and I’m tired of using that thought as a crutch.  Speaking of crutches, I visited my mother in the nursing home tonight, and while I was walking down the hallway of the home I witnessed an old man in a wheelchair camped out at the twenty-five cent candy machines with a cup full of quarters as if he were an old lady playing the slots.  Both of his legs were gone, likely long-since lost to diabetes.  And yet there he was, eating fistfulls of Skittles at a time.  One must have priorities, I reckoned, and I suddenly remembered my paternal grandfather, who was diabetic.  For the life of him, despite his diabetes, he couldn’t give up his favorite candy– those cheap gummy orange slices.

orangeslicesmy grandfather’s kryptonite

I loved those crappy candies when I was a kid, and I’ve always associated them with the memory of my grandfather.  He shot himself around this time some thirty years ago, which is crazy to think about.  When I wrote a post about the concept of deathdays a while back, I forgot to include that it was my grandfather who actually introduced that concept to my father.  And the older I get, the more I recognize the significance of this concept.  To every thing (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn) and a time to every purpose under heaven.  [apologies to Pete Seeger and the Byrds]




Well, here we are again.  February 14th, a date which will live in infamy for most of us lonely hearts.  Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year when those of us who are alone are not allowed to forget that we are utterly alone.  For the last couple of weeks, we singles have been ruthlessly and relentlessly bombarded in person and in the media with constant reminders that we are, in fact, fucking losers.  As if I needed a reminder.  It might as well be cross stitched into a pillow in my living room.

loser pillowSeriously.

I thought I could avoid this “singles shaming” by not leaving the house today, holing up on my couch and binge watching The Walking Dead, but even a show filled with flesh-eating corpses still contains just enough romance to put a damper on the day.  And it really couldn’t have been a more perfect Valentine’s Day.  Cloudy skies and cold rain all day long– not once did the sun come out to shine, not even for a moment.  Ideal weather for suffering the tortures of the memory of a lost love.

Lucy knows what’s up

You’ve gotta give Lucy credit– at least she’s trying, though her pursuit of Schroeder is fruitless and completely misguided.  For god’s sakes, Lucy, leave the man alone– can’t you see he’s immersed in his music, not to mention he’s most likely struggling with his own sexuality?  (Does anyone else think Schroeder is gay?  I’ve always just assumed so.)  But you really do have to give Lucy props for putting her heart out there and taking a chance.  Exactly one year ago on this very blog I wrote a Valentine’s Day post in which I mentioned receiving some sage advice from a pretty girl about the importance of putting oneself out there, but at thirty-six years of age, my options are so severely limited that there’s just no point to any of it anymore.  My best option for meeting people is the bar and club scene, but despite my penchant for drinking, I don’t belong in bars.  These are locales where my misanthropy and agoraphobia can combine to make for an unpleasant cocktail.  I’m far more likely to get into a fist fight with some douchebag in a bar or a dance hall than I am to get a girl’s phone number.

Roxbury douchebagsSaid douchebags: “What is love?  Baby, don’t hurt me…”

[SIDE NOTE:  in high school, my hair and sideburns looked just like Will Ferrell’s in Night at the Roxbury]

What is love, though?  Hell if I know.  There have been a handful of times in my life where I thought I knew– I was certain that I knew– but I was ultimately proven wrong in each instance and left holding my head in my hands wondering what I could have done differently.  But there’s no use in wondering now.  The past is gone, and it’s gone for good– there’s no return to any idyllic garden.  Much like Adam and Eve, I’m no longer in paradise, but at least I’m wiser for it, right?  RIGHT?!?

[crickets chirping]

It’s quite the disturbing thing to be stuck in a perpetual state of despair and apathy.  Both states of mind seem to go hand in hand with one another, and it’s not the good kind of hand holding, either.  There’s no “off to see the Wizard” singing and skipping while holding hands bullshit here– this is the kind of death grip hand holding when someone who can’t swim is drowning, grabbing at anything and anyone they can get their mitts on and pulling them under in sheer panic and desperation.

[cue Debbie Downer music: waaahhhhh waaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh]

I’m not really that bitter about the holiday, though.  I sincerely hope as many people as possible are finding happiness right now in the arms of a loved one.  I really do.  As for me, I’m going to polish off the bottle of whiskey I’ve been nursing all day in the dark with Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown running on a loop until I pass out.

One day

And maybe, if you’re lucky, the changing and rearranging will be for the better and you’ll finally find yourself living the life you’ve always dreamed of. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll start changing and rearranging only to realize that you’ve made a terrible mistake and now there’s no going back to the world you once took for granted and second guessed. It’s a coin toss, really– life’s funny that way.

Wonder Of My Worlds

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The Stars Look Very Different Today


Rock legend and pop-music icon David Bowie died on Sunday after an eighteen-month battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.

Although I’ve never really been a fan of glam rock, I’ve always felt a bit of a kinship with Ziggy Stardust. I considered myself something of an “alien” growing up– an outcast or a misfit who could never quite belong because I was just a little too smart and strange for my own good. Plus, I was born with dichromatic eyes, and people used to tell me I have “David Bowie eyes,” so I once had that going for me, too. But I hadn’t heard that comparison in a long while, as we’re living in an age where most people’s reference point for David Bowie is a Jimmy Fallon impression.

In an odd bit of prophecy, I heard the song “Heroes” this weekend, but it wasn’t Bowie’s version. Rather, it was a live recording from a long-since lost Blondie CD I found while cleaning out my car. Even odder is the fact that this live recording was from a concert held at the Hammersmith Odeon exactly thirty-six years ago today (January 12, 1980). I had forgotten how good the track was, and I must have played it four or five times in a row. One of the reasons this live track is so good is because joining Blondie onstage for that show was one Robert Fripp, the “pitched feedback” experimental guitar pioneer who just so happened to be the studio guitarist on the original record written by David Bowie and Brian Eno, and one could easily argue that Fripp deserves just as much credit as Bowie or Eno for giving the song its unique sound.

frippenobowieFripp, Eno, and Bowie being badasses in the studio

But what really makes “Heroes” such a good song is simply that it’s such a powerful piece of music.  The bittersweet lyrics tell the story of two young lovers and their doomed romance, and the beautiful music takes the lyrics to a whole other level.  With its hauntingly hopeful melody and musical progression, it’s almost an anthem of sorts– an uplifting and optimistic anthem to impossible and impermanent love.

I would argue that this is Bowie’s best song, but not only would you have to listen to his entire catalog to be able to debate the validity of my argument, you would also have to listen to his recording of this particular song, which I am not sharing with you today.  Rather, I am choosing to share Blondie’s live recording which is almost as old as I am because this is my blog and I can do whatever the hell I please with it. But do yourself a favor and listen to Bowie’s original, too.

R.I.P., space oddity– you will be missed.

I, I will be king,
and you, you will be queen–
though nothing will drive them away,
we can beat them, just for one day–
we can be heroes, just for one day.

And you, you can be mean,
and I, I’ll drink all the time,
’cause we’re lovers, and that is a fact–
yes we’re lovers, and that is that.

Though nothing will keep us together,
we could steal time, just for one day–
we can be heroes, forever and ever.
What do you say?

I, I wish you could swim
like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim,
though nothing, nothing will keep us together,
we can beat them, forever and ever.
Oh, we can be heroes, just for one day.

I, I will be king,
and you, you will be queen–
though nothing will drive them away,
we can be heroes, just for one day…
we can be us, just for one day…

I, I remember, (I remember)
standing, by the wall, (by the wall)
and the guns, shot above our heads, (over our heads)
and we kissed, as though nothing could fall, (nothing could fall)
and the shame, was on the other side–
oh, we can beat them, forever and ever,
then we could be heroes, just for one day.

We can be heroes
We can be heroes
We can be heroes
Just for one day
We can be heroes