What happened to this year?

I wish I knew what to say. I wish I had some good excuse. I wish I had a good reason for why I haven’t been writing. Something juicy and spectacular that took me away from this blog and into my own little private version of heaven where everything was so wonderful, fantastic and amazing that such trivial earthly concerns like a blog had just fallen by the wayside. I want to be able to say that was true. But it’s not….

The truth is, well…the truth is depressing and boring and incredibly dull. I had my heart shattered. My dreams wrenched away from me. Any other good cliches? Feel free to chime in.

The truth is, I’ve felt lost for most of the year. Not sure what to do with all these feelings that were never going to get resolved. I couldn’t face reality, always believing I would somehow get another chance to prove myself, another chance…a fair chance…something. But in reality, she was long gone.
She convinced me there was a chance. I fell for it, over and over. Even though now she is far beyond my reach, she still made me think there was some sort of slim possibility. And even though I knew she was moving further and further away from me, I held onto that thread. I was a kite, buffeted by the wind, drifting higher and higher as the one who held the string shrank into the distance, not letting go…

I don’t believe there was any real malice on her part. I believe that she, like me, can’t let it all go. We were such great friends for three years of our lives. Saw each other through some interesting times. She had a lifechanging event that freed her to be herself and have the life she so richly deserved. And me, well, I fell head over heels in love. More deeply and passionately than I had ever had before. For the first time in my life, I was willing to change everything for her. I was willing to risk it all: career, life, family and friends. All of it was on the table and I was willing to move heaven and earth for her.

The problem is, I had blinders on. I never realized she wanted out. Long distances doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder. Instead, the distance creates a void and, as my luck would have it, she found someone else. I don’t blame her for not telling me. I think she felt sorry for me.

So just after Christmas, I found out the truth.

I should have just walked away then. So many things I should have done… Instead, I held onto this hope. A stupid foolish hope of a hopeless (or hopeful, as the case may be) romantic. So began months of back and forth. We would talk off and on, she telling me she misses me and misses what we could have been. Meanwhile, she moved in with the new man, got engaged. No matter how much my heart was ground into dust, I kept going back for more. And it’s been the same all year: misses me, wishes she had given me a chance, but still moving forward with the new man.

And I know what you are thinking: “George, you are an idiot. Get out there and start dating.” I have tried. I even went so far as to try online dating and trust me, I will share those disastrous tales later. But, no matter how much nudging I did, no matter how much reality was presented to it, my heart wouldn’t budge. I was still in love.

I want to move on. I want to be an active participant in my own life instead of this weird holding pattern I find myself in. Like a kite, circling, spinning, drifting in the breeze and unsure of how to cut the string.

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Vacation is Coming

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In three weeks, I will finally be going on a vacation. I know what you are saying: “George, you work two jobs, how can you swing a whole week off?”

The answer is easy: just don’t give a shit.

I need some time to myself. Some time to re-evaluate my little life. Been so wrapped up in making money and taking care of family business that I have completely lost touch with what I really want. I’m not one to avoid introspection, but for some reason, despite my best efforts, I have lost touch with the things that matter to me.

I know the biggest reason for this is my work schedule. For those who don’t know, allow me to explain.

Since September 2008, I have had two jobs. My full time job is with a car dealership. I work there from 45-65 hours a week. They provide full healthcare, 401k, dental, etc. The job is very stable despite the climate out there in the car business. I may bitch about this job alot. I may complain about my co-workers and their lack of interest in anything other than sports and naked women, but it’s a good job. I’m the lynch-pin of the dealership and I love that responsibility. I don’t think I get recognized enough for what I do here, but that is a subject for another blog.

Since September, I joined up at a call center. The original plan was to have this job part time to help offset the cost of oil for the winter since it was looking very scary. Then oil went way down….and thats when I made the mistake of looking at my 401k. Just like everybody else out there, I was seeing diminishing returns. So my friends talked me into joining them at this call center. The calls come in, you take the call, fill out the order, upsell what you can and thats it. Easy right? Easy, but nerve racking. The problem with the part time is I am required to do 20 hours a week there to maintain my part time status.

So lets do the math: on a slow week, I am doing a minimum of 65 hours and on a busy week, I’m doing 85.  Thats eighty five hours of work that leaves very little time for a social life, working out or even vital little things…like sleeping!  Let’s not even get started on spare time to work on a painting, go hiking. The best I can do is a nice long drive along the coast between shifts….

I have been justifying this self torture for one reason: I’m not seeing anyone. Since I’m not dating, might as well make as much money as possible. The rebuttal to my position is: “Well, if you didn’t work so much, maybe you WOULD meet someone.” It’s a never ending cycle. I’ve also come to realize that my position, working my ass off because I have nobody in my life, is the passive position. And if I keep taking this position, a non participatory role in my own dating life, crap like what just happened to me will keep happening and I’ll forever be heartbroken and miserable.

Oh, thats right….I never told you about the last month and half of stupidity that re-entered my life. I guess I never wrote about it because I felt like I had been used. Another redhead pulled the wool over my eyes. Thats not exactly true. She didn’t pull the wool over my eyes so much as I did it myself. Just wanted to believe everything she said was true. But no, it was a lie, just like before. Oh yeah, there was a before to this story too, which is why I should have seen how it would all end. But sadly, my heart dove in face first and ran merrily away without me. Now he’s broken, shattered really. And no, I won’t go into detail. Would rather keep it vague and not name names.

But if I didn’t work so much, if I had some kind of a life, maybe I could have seen her coming a mile away and told her to go to hell like I should have rather than going along with things simply out of conveniance. And conveniance is never a reason to start a relationship with someone.

So thats why I need this vacation. I need it so I can step outside of myself and my life. I need new priorities and new objectives. And most of all, need a new plan for my little life. I need to be a better friend to those who care about me. I need to be true to myself and stop compromising so much of my life. And I need to make myself available, so when she finally does walk into my life, I won’t be so busy that I hardly notice her and miss the chance of a lifetime.

Vacation is coming and with it comes a lot of change. I think I’m ready.

Middle Cyclone by Neko Case: A Review

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Ok, I know what you are going to say: George found himself another redhead to obsess over. And yes, Miss Case is gorgeous and a redhead. That aside, her latest album Middle Cyclone has completely blown me away.

Let me back up a bit.

About 4 years ago, my ex told me about this musician she loved named Neko Case. She prefaced that statement by saying, “You’ll love her. She’s a redhead.” Now for most people, that would seem like a harmless statement. A matter of fact statement describing the hair color of an individual, plain and simple. I knew better than that.

Whenever the subject of other women ever popped up in a conversation, even something as silly as discussing hair color, was a dangerous mine field of neurotic worries and complaints that inevitably led to a fight. One false move and BANG “I’m not good enough!” and BOOM “You want her!” A smile at a waitress and BANG “You must be sleeping with her!” Polite and chatty with the check out girl and BOOM “Is she your next date??”

And commenting on the beauty of a singer, any singer, no matter how ridiculously out of my league or sphere of influence meant that I simply MUST be actively trying to track them down so I could dump her and sleep with them.

Yup, she was a delightful little ball of Italian craziness. I know it’s weird, but I think her unpredictability was one of the reasons I loved her. It was entertaining to talk her down from her neurotic psycho episode and making up, well, that was always the best part. But living your life on a minefield, always unsure if the next thing you said would trigger a massive fight, that wore thin after awhile.

So when she mentioned that Neko Case was a redhead, I immediately shut down all interest in the conversation. I declined her offer to listen to her cd and even passed on a chance to see her live, all to avoid a massive blow out of a fight that I knew would come if I had shown interest in front of my ex. Secretly, on my own, I went and checked her out on my own online.

I’m not a country fan. Never have been.

Most modern country music annoys the hell out of me with it’s simplicity and jingoistic “America Fuck Yeah” attitude, and the incredibly depressing cry in your beer, sleep with your sister and go watch NASCAR reputation. But there are elements of the country sound that I love, elements that soar above the mundane and create something that can touch us all universally and not just the niche market of modern country music. The term “Alt-Country” has come into popularity in the last decade or so to categorize this sound.

Wilco, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams, Whiskeytown, Uncle Tupelo, Southern Culture On the Skids, Palace Brothers, Old 97s and even rockabilly and psychobilly bands fall into this category from time to time, although psychobilly definitely leans more towards it’s punk influences than it’s country inspired roots. My love for this know-it-when-I-hear-it genre of music has helped me appreciate artists like Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline (early recordings) and even the subtle influences of artists like Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and especially the influence of Sun records on the defining sounds of country, blues, rockabilly and, of course, rock and roll.

When I was finally able to check out Neko Case, I fell in love. Her voice, sometimes grating, sometimes demanding, sometimes soaring and angelic, sometimes accusatory but always entertaining, captured my heart. Her lyrics, with their dark overtones, touch the perfect balance between bitterness and light, an ambiguous place that allows her voice to tell you the context, not just the words.

Middle Cyclone starts off with This Tornado Loves You, an appropriate begining. A song about love as a force of nature, strong and undeniable and yet, the subject of her affections is in denial, refusing to believe. And no matter how frenzied or powerful an emotion is, even if it has the power of a tornado, it can be deflated and defeated by a simple act of denial. This sets the tone for the album, a strong set from beginning to end. Songs of unrequited love, loss, frustration and hope, this album has the impression of an artist in a middle ground emotionally, lost and searching for something to hold on to, but the songs reveal that despite all of this, she is a confident and powerful creative force.

Her style on this album definitely still falls into the alt-country genre with some elements of indie pop, folk and even a little motown sound mixed in. I heard it, don’t mock me! 🙂

Her voice is at times heartbreakingly beautiful with an undercurrent of frustration and even hostility. The Next Time You Say Forever contains the memorable lyric “The next time you say forever, I’m going to punch you right in your face.” That one sentence tells a whole story by itself and thats what I love about her. On the title track, she laments “Someones made a fool of me ‘fore I could show them how it’s done.” The title is perhaps directly misleading, expecting a raucous song like Tornado, we get a soothing meditiation on unrequited love.

I could easily go track by track and mention every little aspect that spoke to me: a key lyric, a note, a reverb of a guitar, the sigh in her voice. There are few things to pick apart on this album. I will say that my only true complaint here is that some of the songs are too short, almost feeling incomplete, but it works within the themes and confines of the song. Like all good things, they must come to an end and some of these songs, you just want to go on and on. But I admire that about her writing: she gets the point out, never overstays her welcome and leaves you begging for more.

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Yup, I’ve found a new redhead to obsess over, just wish I could have found her sooner….

A Teeni Interview

Teeni asked. I answered.

1.  Why did you cry on September 5?

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Several years ago, on September 5th, I had a bad day. That was the day I had to admit defeat, wave a little white flag and end a 3 year relationship. I had never broken up with someone before. Usually, I’m the one being kicked to the curb, the one left with unreturned phone calls, empty dinner tables… But, for the first time, I was the one saying “We need to talk…”

I couldn’t stop crying afterwards. Felt like my heart had been ripped out, I couldn’t catch my breath and I had a ringing pounding headache for days afterward. I know I did the right thing (the situation had reached a stalemate/standstill that was never going to be resolved and I wasn’t willing to just blindly ignore all the problems and pretend to be happy) but that was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. It broke my heart.

2.  If you could open your own restaurant, what type of food would you serve and what type of clientele would you like to see enjoying your food there?

challahfrenchtoast

Oh what a great question! Anyone who reads my blog, knows I love to cook. I ran restaurants for years and the idea of opening my own place is a dream I would love to realize. I do alot of cooking for my friends and according to them, I should open up a restaurant of comfort foods, specializing in breakfast foods and diner staples. My friends are what you may call “stoners” and, even though they know I don’t smoke and I rarely drink, according to them, I’m a stoner at heart because of my cooking skills and the “strange” recipes I make up on the spot. Aparently, my cooking imagination has a stoner spirit.

A simple example:  I made chocolate sundaes for everyone one night…I took  some chocolate fudge bread from When Pigs Fly bakery (thick chocolate flavored bread with chunks of chocolate spread throughout) chopped into large chunks and toasted it all in the oven. The toasted chunks were tossed into a bowl, topped with ice cream, fruit, sauce and whipped cream. I would love to feature this recipe on a menu….and what would be the name of  my “stoner” diner?

4:20“, of course! For those not familiar with stoner culture, ask a stoner sometime what 420 means… Course the ultimate irony of this restaurant would be that a guy who doesn’t smoke pot at all was running it.

And I think a name like “4:20” would be vague enough so as not to alienate any other potential clientele. And I would specialize in big food, huge portions and outrageous recipes. Most of my menu would be high impact on the calories (no such thing as light french toast, you know) so I would need to bring in a partner to work on the lighter side….any takers??

3.  Tell us a little bit about your pet cat.

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Thomas is a great cat.

The cat I had before him was a refugee from an abused home. His name was Ebony and he loved the outdoors, only coming inside when it was raining or too cold, but even then, he made at least one daily jaunt outside. In his old home, he had obviously been abused. The first few months I had him, he refused to come near me. He would come in the house and sit in a corner meowing to himself. He was so skittish and seemed so upset all the time, didn’t know what to do. Finally, I spent a day with him and he came to me and jumped in my lap. After that, he was the perfect cat. He let me pick him up and he would curl up like a little baby in my arms. If I was working on the computer, he would jump up in the chair, climb to the top and warp himself around my neck and sleep with his head on my shoulder. I would wake up with him curled up on the pillow next to me. The ex used to hate that!

Poor Ebony. He loved the outdoors too much. He disapeared one night. I found signs of a struggle behind the house. Ebony’s black fur mixed with orange, red and white fur, tell tale signs of a fox. I was heartbroken.

For a year, I vowed I was done with pets. Then, I suddenly found myself wandering through the animal shelter. I don’t know what brought me there. I told the people working there that I was only looking. I walked into the cat room. There were 20 cats in there, all of varying colors and ages. I noticed a black short hair cat standing on a runner (carpeted ledge that ran the length of the wall). I smiled because he looked just like Ebony. The cat must have known I was looking at him because he came running towards me. The runner was right at head level for me. I was now face to face with this black cat. He was purring loudly. I reached out to pet him and he headbutted me right on the forehead. I laughed. I hadn’t picked out a cat, the cat had picked me.

I found out his name was Thomas, adopted him right then and took him home the next night. Thomas is not as overtly affectionate as Ebony was, but he is friendly with everyone and especially seems to adore me since I wake up almost every morning with him next to me or at the foot of my bed, waiting for me to click on the tv. He seems to be a big fan of the flickering images on the screen.

4.  I peeked into your blog a bit and want to know under what circumstances were you kicked by a horse?  There has to be a story here.  😉

horse

A friend of mine in high school had a barn we used to party in. The farm was fairly isolated and we would have bonfires outside and such and party rather loudly in the barn til the wee hours of the morning. On one such night, my friend G and I decided to taunt the horse that was stabled in the barn.

We were just being loud and obnoxious and being rather obliterated at the time, we were not thinking about the consequences of pissing off a large animal. The horse, after about an hour of us taunting and teasing it, decided he had enough of our foolishness. The horse turned around in it’s stall. We were leaning on the gate that had the horse locked in and I remember thinking that the horse was going to pee on us or something, so I started to step back when the horse suddenly kicked. The gate, as it turned out, had a rather flimsy lock on it. The lock broke and the door rocketed open with enough force to send us both flying across the barn. I had been moving away from the door but my friend G was hit full force by the door. He ended up with bruised ribs and a concussion. I smacked my head on a post a good 10 feet away and ended up with a huge knot on my head and some bruises all over. We were lucky that door was in the way of that kick….

5.  Just what is it about redheads?  Do ALL redheads, even the bottled ones, have the same appeal?

redhead

I really think my fascination with redheads started when I was a little kid. My first kiss in kindergarten was with a redhead. Ok, strawberry blonde, but still….

Bottled or natural,  red hair has always caught my attention. I can spot a redhead at 100 yards. And yes, I have actually stepped onto the wrong train in Boston when I was distracted by someone with red hair. Not to mention the times I’ve almost crashed my car due to redhead distractions.

As fascinated as I have been by redheads, I have only ever dated the bottled variety. The natural redheads have always eluded me. Sadly every redhead relationship has ended in disaster. Usually I’m being dumped and discarded by the redheads in my life. And recently, I have even been used and abused by redheads. Despite all this, I still find myself looking, still find myself drooling a little. I still can’t tell you why… Maybe I have a masochistic relationship with the idea of redheads: no matter how badly I’m treated, I keep going back for more…

Hmm…wonder if theres a blond or brunette out there to distract me from the redheads….heehee. Actually, I can think of at least one…but thats a blog for another another time….. 🙂

So, do you want to be interviewed? Here are the rules:

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Edited to Add: I was lazy and found all these pics on Photobucket. To my shame, I realized I don’t have any pictures of my cat, so instead of finding him when I wrote this and taking his picture and uploading it, I blatantly stole some pics from Photobucket instead…sorry, should have added this note to begin with. I take no credit for any of these pictures….I love that horse pic though! 🙂

RedHead Re-Tread

This is a familiar story. For those who know me this will be a re-tread. For those who don’t, feel free to make fun of me.

I love redheads. It’s that simple. Something about red hair can redeem almost anyone in my eyes. Some strange primal and somehwat superficial part of my personality always gives preference to a woman with auburn locks.  I’m not sure when this started. At some point in my life, I fell in love with redhair.

I think I can trace it back to my first crush all the way back in 1st grade: she had strawberry blond hair that gradually grew a darker red as we grew up. That must be where it started. And throughout my life since then, every conceivable incarnation of red hair has caught my attentions: dyed, natural, it didn’t matter. I’ve actually hopped onto the wrong train in Boston on more than one occassion because I was distracted by some red hair. Lost in the moment, I would step up to the wrong platform and next thing I know, I’m on an express train to Braintree when I had intended to catch the train to Harvard….:)

Today, I almost died because of redhair. Ok, thats an exaggeration, but I did almost crash my car.

Driving through downtown Portsmouth this morning, I saw a woman I recognized as a frequent customer of the service center. Dressed in a long warm black coat, she was standing on the side of the road in the cross walk, waiting for her moment to cross. She has shoulder length dark red hair that was poking out from underneath a a black woolen cap.

So, being the gentlemaan that I am, I stopped and waved her across. She looked up and smiled and waved at me, recognizing me from the dealership. I smiled back as she crossed in front of me. “Shouldn’t you be working?” she said as she hopped onto the sidewalk, waving again as she ran into a bookstore. I realized as I crossed into the next intersection oblivious to the red light, that I was lost in the moment.

Luckily for me, I hit the interesection just between two crossing cars. My heart was racing as I gunned my car forward to get out of the way of any more cars and pulled over in front of the Music Hall. There I sat for 10 minutes sipping my coffee and laughing at myself. What an idiot I am. Strange that a lifelong fascination with a particular color almost led to me getting smooshed in an intersection.