Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Isolated In Plain Sight

She estimated that she was alone at least 80% of her day, even though she was married with adolescent children and had a full time job. 

Marriage had been a headfirst dive without putting a toe in the water when she barely qualified as a legal adult. Her 41st birthday was approaching and a few weeks back it had dawned on her that she had been married over half of her life.

She had felt alone for far longer than that. She felt alone even when in the company of her family or friends, and she felt most alone when she was with her husband. Her husband always seemed to be mentally somewhere else, his mind occupied with more important matters. It had been over a decade since she had felt as if she was an important part of his life. 

Uncertainty about her marriage, about her life, about everything that was supposed to make her feel as if she mattered - the children, the house, the place up the coast, her job - drained her emotionally. 

As she sat in the kitchen staring at the cup of coffee she held in both hands, she thought of how tired she was of being used as a doormat, or worse, by every member of her family, most of the people she worked with, and even people she knew from church. 

Her husband allowed the children to treat her with disrespect bordering on cruelty, never once admonishing them for the way they spoke to her or treated her. She cursed herself for ingraining in her children the idea that their Father was the master of the household to be followed blindly. She wondered why it was her place to carry the burden of dealing with the adolescent confusion, anger, even rage while her husband sat in front of the television finishing beer after beer.

She dwelled on how she was treated indifferently by her husband and children, the proverbial doormat if there ever was one. She thought about running away, abandoning her family, the life she now lived, going off to a new city, a new state, somewhere she could get lost and never found. 

As always she cast the notion aside with the thought that it would just be a change of scenery with the same depressing overwhelming loneliness. She allowed the thought of completely giving up to enter her mind. She tried to rationalize the thought. She did not feel as if she was actually living a life, she did not feel as if she was anyone of significance, she did not feel as if she mattered, she did not feel as if anyone truly cared for her...no one actually knew her, who she really was...no one knew she was in agony, every minute of everyday.

She wondered if there was anything she could actually do. She had made countless attempts to discuss her mental state with her husband, but he always had a ready excuse for not having the time for a serious talk at the moment, whatever moment it happened to be. She knew he simply did not have any interest in dealing with her depression - in his view, it was her problem and she was the one who needed to deal with it. He had no interest in her emotions, in what she was feeling. His indifference cemented in her mind the fact that he did not really know her, not even after more than two decades of marriage.

Momentarily she again found herself thinking that maybe she was to blame for his indifference, that she just hadn't tried hard enough. She had entered into the marriage with grandiose dreams of a fairy tale life, and now all she could think was she had somehow failed, as she had failed at everything she attempted. 

She mired her thoughts in self-loathing, She told herself she worked hard to make everything as perfect as it could possibly be and of course nothing ever could be as perfect as she wanted it to be, so it was her fault for having such high expectations. She so wanted to just give up. She was overwhelmed by the thought that she would never be able to do anything right, Her husband, her children, they all reminded her of that on nearly a daily basis.

When she felt totally alone in the house, totally useless, she tried to fade into the background, to be invisible. She would retreat to the bedroom and sit in the dark quietly, hoping that at least one of her daughters might walk into the room and, if not ask her if she was okay, at least sit quietly with her.

But that never happened. She would sit for long minutes that sometimes stretched into hours, until she heard someone yell out that they were hungry, or needed a particular item of clothing.   

It was then that she would repeat to herself, almost like chanting a mantra, that she hated her life, that she hated who she was, that she hated everything. 

She could not think of a way out of her situation, She felt locked in a prison she had built herself. She felt with certainty that she only had herself to blame, that it was she who allowed others to treat her so poorly, to be so ungrateful for all she did for them. She told herself it was she who had fashioned herself as a doormat, so people used her as one. 

The self-degradation did nothing but make her hate herself even more. She was keenly aware that the only person's attitude she could change was her own, but she also felt that she would never be able to change who she had become.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Universe Favors The Persistent

If there was one thing that just made life unbearable at times it was the waiting for enough life experiences to pass to make the lessons from life experiences really worthwhile...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dawn Like A Firecracker

                                 Sunrise from Lakewood, Colorado January 28th 2015

Walking the dogs 'round the reservoir early
The geese on the ice and in the cold water
The sound of a splash disrupts the quiet of morning
A beautiful sunrise appears on the horizon without warning

The sound of cars on the street making for the freeway
Lines forming at the coffee shop drive up
Dogs tug on the leashes straining after a squirrel
Whistling through the gloom like a wandering minstrel

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Speed Trap Rabbit

Today I met a person who was in quite the ranting mood. Apparently, he had just gotten a speeding ticket, and his claim was that he wasn't speeding, he was the victim of entrapment.

From what I could gather from his vulgarity-laced diatribe, every traffic cop knows that people have a tendency to drive at the going rate of traffic, and if the majority of drivers are driving 10 miles an hour over the speed limit, soon everyone is driving 10 miles an hour over the speed limit - no one wants to be the one to hold up traffic.

He told me that in areas where speed limits change rather quickly, say from 45mph to 35mph, police have employed what are known as "rabbits" - a car that will continue to travel at least 5 to 10 mph above 45mph despite the decrease in the speed limit to 35mph, thus deceiving other drivers into believing that 5 to 10 mph over 45mph is the acceptable rate of travel

In rural areas, he said, it is something to be expected, but now he claimed it is a tactic being used in areas where smaller towns butt up against recent developments such as large shopping malls near highways (which was where we were - near the largest shopping mall in Colorado, and at the intersection of two major freeways)- the primary route people use to commute to the area will be a 65mph or 55mph zone, but once a driver exits that route the feeder route will have a greatly reduced speed.

He went on at great length about how the rabbit trap works best when the transition is via an off ramp or some other such egress that does not require coming to a full stop, as cops know that generally, if a driver makes a full stop he or she will look for a new speed limit sign and abide by it.

They also know, he continued to elaborate, that when a full stop is not required, a driver has a tendency to simply continue at the rate of speed they had been traveling, and if that rate of speed is reinforced by other drivers, they become almost blind to new limits even if a posted limit is passed.

Police officers, he stressed, are well aware of this, and they use the "rabbits" to lead drivers past where patrol cars will lay in wait, usually on the other side of a rise in the road where the view of a patrol car is limited. The rabbit car will pass the parked patrol car without slowing down, as brake lights would alert drivers that are following the rabbit of the higher rate of speed. 

Once a traffic cop has a victim (his actual words) exceeding the speed limit by at least 15mph (preferably a driver in a newer model vehicle, such as the one he was driving I assume), then the officer will pull over the victim and issue a ticket, with the rabbit long gone.

The raving and ranting guy said that the citizen getting the ticket is an ordinary law-abiding citizen who follows the law but becomes a victim of police entrapment, plain and simple.

I just nodded in agreement with him, hoping to myself that the lady with the four kids in line in front of me would not be ordering much more than hotdogs and cokes for her kids.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Careful With That Ambition There, Sport

All you delightful little challenges
That are just going to make life a grand adventure
Time and time and time again
Thought I'd left you all behind
In the rough and tumble world of 

Guess not.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Garrett Grins Again

Her preferred defense had always been cynicism
Ever since her first agonizing heartbreak
She never let on to her interest in anyone
Treated all prospects like a dangerous snake
                  Built strong walls 
                  Of doubt and distrust
                  Viewed all men as paper dolls
                  To be discarded after indulging the lust
Early on the pattern had been set
She would become infatuated to the point of undress
Then she would begin to wish they'd never met
Taught herself to walk away without any regrets
                  One dull evening she was caught off guard
                  Met an indifferent man sitting in her favorite bar
                  More than her equal in the sport of disregard
                  Didn't even flinch when she flashed him her scar
They danced without either one moving a muscle
Went on dates without ever agreeing to meet
Fought bitter wars without so much as a scuffle
Ran from each other without moving to retreat
                  His friends couldn't understand the attraction
                  Her friends thought she was just playing a game
                  His friends told him to take evasive action
                  Her friends wondered how she felt no shame
Months would often pass without him in her life
Occasionally the separations lasted well over a year
She flaunted other men around him like flashing a knife
He looked beyond them as if they weren't even there
                  She didn't understand what he was up to
                  He didn't think it was important to be understood
                  She swore every other month she was through
                  Garrett just grinned and knocked on wood 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Lakewood Museum Of Discarded Art

Eighteen paintings that I have found while garage selling, thrift shopping, or junk shop picking in and around Lakewood Colorado. Most do not have signatures or attribution of any kind.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Iced Raccoon

                                               Draw me like one of your French girls

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Upon A Cold Morning

This morning the world did not come to an end, just as it had not come to an end on any of the million previous mornings. It was a cold morning though, seven degrees above zero Fahrenheit, which made it feel as if the whole world was going to freeze over.

The snow from the previous day had been coated with a gossamer veil of ice during the night, and there was a thin sheet of ice on the road - it made for a challenging drive until the main road was reached, where the wheels of the cars that had already driven by had broken up the ice enough to make driving fairly safe.

The cold of morning in Lakewood can be a beautiful thing. The first warm rays of the sun low on the horizon produce a light mist as the millimeter thin sheen of ice begins to evaporate. 

Bear Creek, which runs south to north through Bear Valley, is deep enough in areas, and the flow fast enough throughout it's course, so that it never completely freezes over. Ice does develop in the shallow eddys and pools that form where small tributaries have branched off, and as the sun rises higher in the cloudless sky of the morning, small platters of ice will begin to break off and float away like runaway barges on a miniature Mississippi.

Dressed warmly enough, a walk along one of the trails that parallel the creek can be at once both peaceful and invigorating. The quiet of the morning broken only by the gurgling of the water rushing past and the geese shifting in the open water.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Ride That Sparked The Wanderlust

I was a very young man, not yet a teenager, when I first traveled alone. From San Diego I rode a Greyhound bus to Salem, Oregon in order to spend the summer as a guest of a family that once lived across the street from us in San Diego (basically, this family, the Millers, took me off my Mothers hands for the summer).

That summer was an an adventure-filled, extraordinary time, but the one thing I remember most clearly was the bus ride. The Greyhound took nearly two full days to get from S.D. to Salem, as it stopped at nearly every large city and small town along I-5. Having never traveled further north than Los Angeles, everything beyond L.A. fascinated me. 

I sat in a window seat the entire time, my eyes devouring the landscapes of the less populated areas of California and Oregon. One of the strongest memories I have of the early part of the trip was the bus making it's way through the San Fernando valley over a mountain pass up to Pyramid Lake. Periodically, the driver would point out various places of historical interest when he made announcements regarding the expected time of arrival at the next city or town on the route.

I faintly recall that by the time the bus was approaching Sacramento, it was late in the evening and I was too tired not to drift off to sleep, and I stayed asleep for the entire drive through Northern California and into Oregon. 

It was early morning when I woke up to see the heavily forested low mountains of Southern Oregon, a sight that filled me with awe. I cannot actually recall the first small town the bus stopped at that morning, but I can recall the air being very damp, and smelling incredibly fresh - it had to be the freshest air I ever breathed up to that point in my life.

Traveling alone as a pre-teen wasn't unusual in those days. Now I imagine child protective services would be called in, or I would be thought of as a runaway. 

When the bus pulled into the station in Salem, Patrick Miller and his younger brother Lawrence were there to meet me, having been driven into Salem by their oldest sister Trina to pick me up. The drive back to the small town of Dallas, where the Millers lived, was lively, with me, Patrick and Lawrence talking up a storm about what we were going to do that summer.

It was a summer of hikes, fishing, berry-picking, my first paper route, learning how to shoot a .22 rifle (I even took a hunters safety course), tubing on the Willamette and at the swimming hole, building forts, and playing explorer - in short, a grand summer any young boy would be lucky to experience,

But it doesn't hold a candle to that first bus ride alone.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Home Full Of The Din Of Inner Turmoil

                            Carousel in the snow, taken by LLN, Massachusetts January 2015

Not on any day that features a sunrise
Will there be an earlier day
To get started enjoying your life
There will always be time, however
To regret those chances you didn't take
Those conversations you didn't initiate
With those people you wanted to speak to
Plenty of time to regret the panic
You allowed to control your actions
And all those opportunities to just let go
That were quashed by your fears
Oh yeah, there will be time enough to spare
For regret and remorse
From the safety and security
Of your locked tight corner of the world
From which you watch 
Life pass on by

Sunday, January 18, 2015

That, And A Bag Of Hammers

The days began to grind 
Like a dull blade against a worn grindstone
No more sparks, nothing but pointless friction
Nothing substantial left to provide traction
Yeah, that's what I remember feeling like
The first time I fell out of love

Friday, January 16, 2015

Feelin' All Excellent About Everything

Some days, everything just falls into place
          You wake up happy to be living in your skin  
          Make it to the gym and get a good workout in
The water temperature in the shower is perfect and constant
          Nothing makes you feel like you're falling apart
          Make yourself an omelet that's a work of culinary art
Traffic flows as if directed by an beneficial omniscient power
          No one's in too much of a hurry, no one's in a race
          Warmth of the sun caresses your face
The people you meet all greet you with a smile
          Not a grumpy soul within miles
          Walk into work, your desk is not buried in files
Hours pass as you task without being disturbed
          People at work are all happy to be there
          Someone buys a pizza asks if I'd like to share

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Harshest Compromise

Someone far wiser than I once stated that life is full of choices and compromises. We are all no doubt aware of the choices we make, and probably most of the compromises, but it has become apparent that life is full of hidden compromises, so well hidden that we don't even realize we are making a compromise until someone outside of the situation points it out.

The most insidious, the harshest of these compromises (at least in my loud, obnoxious opinion), is the decision to settle between the choice of what we really want out of life, and how much effort we are willing to put in to achieve what we really want out of life.

Very, very few people appear to be able to sacrifice everything necessary to actually get what they really want out of life - most people (yours truly included) - just settle for "good enough."

There's no need to point out the obvious compromises such as those made in relationships, education, careers, etc. - enough of us are walking around telling ourselves that we screwed up settling for such and such when with a little more effort or determination, we could have had what we imagine would have been the optimal, the desired.

The hidden compromises are usually centered around cost. By cost I mean what you are paying now in terms of time, effort, resources, etc., to be who you are where you are, and what you would have to pay in terms of time, effort, resources, to be who and where you want to be.

There must be something in the majority of us that triggers a "good enough" decision. 

There must be a reason that the majority of the wealth, acclaim, glory, etc. of the world is in the hands of an extremely small fraction of the population. It has to be due to that extremely small fraction of the population lacking the "good enough" switch in the ol' noggin.

Those people, they are the ones walking around everyday saying "It is never good enough, I must do more, I must have more, I must accomplish more - I will do whatever it takes to achieve my goals!"

These are the people who, when faced with the choice of doing something, anything at all - even if it's a guaranteed good time - that gets between them and their goals, walk away from the guaranteed good time choice and stick to their plans. 

I wonder what that's like.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Scary Noises In An Empty House

There's something giving me the creeps
A chilly feeling making my skin crawl
I'm laying in bed but I can't sleep
Distorted shadows are dancing on the wall

I duck my head underneath the sheets
What's making that noise out in the hall
Maybe that's the chattering of my own teeth
I'm feeling trapped behind the eight-ball

It's getting hard for me to breathe
I've got to get a grip on this once and for all
Wait a minute, what's that up on the shelf
Oh jeez it's just a ratty old talking doll

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Invention That Really Needs Inventing

Some people think the world needs transporter beams or cheap, efficient solar panels. Those people are entitled to their beliefs, however misguided they are. 

What the world actually needs is a freaking windshield wiper that cleans the area of the windshield in my line of sight instead of only the areas that are directly around my line of sight.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Why Little Dog, Why?

What is your problem little dog
Why do you have to dig holes under the fence
Why do you have to chew through the fence when the ground freezes
Why can't you stay in the yard with the big dog
It's not like we don't go for walks
Through the neighborhood
Around the reservoir
Even in the park with the pond full of ducks

What more is it you want to see
Why do you make my neighbors catch you
Why do you make my neighbors call me
Why do you make me have to leave work to retrieve you
It's quite the inconvenience
Through and through
Around and around
Even when I think there is no possible way for you to get out

I'm going to build a wall little dog, just you watch
Stupid terrier

Friday, January 9, 2015

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

C'est une journée triste pour la presse et pour la liberté

                                                      It is a sad day for the press and liberty

No doubt you have read the news - another terrorist attack. 

The offices of the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo were stormed by three heavily armed men, clad in black from head to foot. They killed 12 people and wounded 11.  Most of the major media outlets are side-stepping who may be responsible with statements such as "no groups have claimed responsibility."

However, there are videos all over the Internet that clearly record the terrorists shouting "Allahu Akbar," and there are several websites and Twitter accounts allied with extremist Islamist terrorist that have posted support for the attacks.

So, draw your own conclusions Mr. Affleck.  

Four cartoonists were killed in the attack. Cartoonists. Possibly the most harmless people on the face of the planet. A cartoonist was what I wanted to grow up to be, a person who entertains, provokes, amuses, confounds, etc. with simple drawings and a few words.

Sure, cartoonists can be offensive, but part of growing up, of maturing as a human being, is being able to ignore whatever you find offensive in words and pictures. If you or your belief system is so fragile, so weak, that a mere picture or a few words can be a threat, maybe it's time you found a way to toughen up, or found a stronger ideology.

Two of the people who were killed - on the left, Jean Cabut who used the nom de plume "Cabu," and on the right, Stephane Charbonneir, who used the nom de plume "Charb." 

A cover of the French publication Charlie Hebdo that featured a cartoon of Muhammad saying "A thousand lashes if you're not dying of laughter"

I grieve for the fallen cartoonists, the other members of the staff of Charlie Hebdo, and the fallen French policemen. if I could have any wish fulfilled it would be that every single newspaper, magazine or whatever publication on the face of this planet would publish their cartoons, especially the ones deemed offensive by the terrorist, on their respective front pages today.

*The images used for this post were appropriated by me from the internet. If any of the material is protected by copyright, please notify me and I will either secure permission for use or replace it with a non-copyrighted image.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It's Just One Glorious Day After Another

It's amazing how long I've managed to live without
                                           All those things and people 
                  I thought I could never live without

Monday, January 5, 2015

Not The Only One

You are not the only one

Not the only one that hates themselves, their family, and the whole of mankind
Not the only one in love with the whole wide world

 Not the only one that hopes the car they're in will fail to take the curve and go flying through the guardrail 
Not the only one who wants to live forever

Not the only one who thinks that people would despise them if they knew what they were actually thinking
 Not the only one who despises people for what they assume they are actually thinking

 Not the only one who wants to hole up in a dark room and shut out the world
 Not the only one who wants to be able to get out and explore the planet 

Not the only one who wishes they were born in another time, another place, to another race or another gender 
Not the only one happy with who they are, what they are, where they are right now

Not the only one that loathes cats, or dogs, or hedgehogs, or religious people, or atheists, or Republicans, or Democrats, or those who straddle the fence
Not the only one who embraces diversity

 Not the only who hates Rap, or Rock & Roll, or Pop, or Jazz, or Country
Not the only one who whistles in the dark

Not the only one who gets it
Not the only one who doesn't understand

Not the only one who hates drama, or romance, or comedy
Not the only one who is happy

Not the only one who is depressed
Not the only one who wishes they didn't have to feel anything at all

Not the only who wants to stand out
Not the only want who wants to blend in

Not the only one without a clue
Not the only one with brilliant insight

Not the only one overwhelmed by it all
Not the only one who just wants something to do

Nope, not by a longshot

Friday, January 2, 2015

As Warm As Her Heart Was Going To Get

He said, Baby is this one of those things
that's going to last forever?
She said, Baby let's see if we can make it
through the end of the week
                 C'mon Baby, He cried, Why do you want                                to talk to me like that?
                 Why oh why do you want to make me
                 twist in a tornado?
                                She laughed
                                And she winked
                                She blew him a kiss
                                And she blinked
                                She turned away
                                And she slinked
                 C'mon Baby, He sighed, Why do you want
                 to walk away from me like that?
                 Why oh why do you want to stake me
                 through the heart with a stiletto?
He said, Baby the way your mood swings
Is no fun whatsoever
She said, Baby I know you're not attracted
to women who are quiet, shy & meek