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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

LIFE by Keith Richards

I'm currently reading "LIFE" the auto-biography of Keith Richards, guitarist for the Rolling Stones. I'm perhaps two thirds of the way through the book and honestly I'm not really sure how I feel about it.

The subject matter, Non-fiction, biography, music/The Stones all seemed to fit my bill, all sounded like something I would enjoy. It also got rave reviews and spent a couple weeks a top the new York Times Best seller List for Non-Fiction. Soother folks seemed to enjoy it and at times I have too. But there is something about it that is....unsettled.

And it's not the repeated reference to drugs and drug use, shit I was expecting that. No it was something else. If anyone out there is familiar w/Richards and specifically the way he speaks, then they can imagine what I'm referring too here. He writes in the same hap-hazard, stutter/mumble, stoner/drunkard voice with which he speaks. once I realized that, all I did when I read the book was imagine he was speaking it to me and it seemed less unsettling.

The narrative is straight forward and very frank. I figure there are certain key figures here like Mick Jagger for example that are less then pleased with his opinions but that is why I've always liked the guy: he is nothing but honest, brutally so. And that includes information about himself, he holds nothing back and that is why, in the end i have to say I recommend this read.

If your a fan of the Stones, of music or just a good auto-biography give it a try, chances are it will grow on you as it has on me....

State Of Me

I'm having a rather tough time dealing with my recent health issue, IE: Pneumonia. I've done what the Docs have told me, I've taken ALL the medication and taken it as prescribed (critical for a former junkie who actually used to abuse Aspirin, among other things!! You know, if the directions say take 2 every 4 hours then I take 4 every 2 hours because it will work faster, NOT!). I've done my best to eat healthy, etc. And yet I still don't seem to be getting over this respiratory issue and it's frustrating.

Frustrating and yea, it concerns me some as well. Specifically the difficulty breathing and extreme fatigue are what worry me right now. Gasping for air while sitting in a meeting for an hour scares the living the shit outta me, I'm not the least bit afraid to admit that. Having no energy to lift me arms to get out of a chair, just stuff like that...

Doc says those are not unusual symptoms but it's been going on for quite a while now, several weeks for sure.

The only benefit I can see in all of this, as I've mentioned before is that I've slowed down enough to do work on this blog and more importantly, to appreciate the little things that I am so grateful for.

3 years ago I had no real home of my own to speak of....and though I rent now I feel so much a part of everything here on the island. I have a sense of place I don't really ever recall having at any time in my life. It's the connection to the spiritual side of things I notice and appreciate the most.

People and relationships are very important but they are not everything. It's been easy in the past for me to look solely to others to make me happy and of course it never happened. I have no control over what folks say or do. I've found much peace in letting go and by doing so letting those people I care about just be themselves. Just like I want to just be who I am...

I know, this sounds like another "preachy" blog but honestly, I'm only preaching to myself. These are the lessons I need to learn and continue to pay attention to. So I suppose I just need to hold on, take things a day at a time and stay positive. Not a bad approach anyway I suppose...

The Morning After

Last night I spent a lot of time thinking about the documentary Restrepo that we watched last night on NatGeo. My father and I talked for quite a while about it after it ended.

Dad is staunchly conservative, served in the Army at the time of the Korean War (though he saw no combat) and typically defends the need for our country to use force when our leaders feel we are threatened. But this was a tough film to watch not just for me but for Dad as well.

This is not a film that has an "Anti-War" point of view. I feel the film makers did a great job of just capturing the 15 months this unit was in the Korengal Valley, just showed it like it was. The missions, the living conditions, talks with individual soldiers about a variety of things. It captures the Grunts point of view, certainly not the big picture. The leader of these men Captain Dan Kierney is also featured as the camera follows him as he makes life and death decisions, on the spot. And sometimes men die as a result....The Captains honest, frank and emotional comments are gut wrenching in the context of everything we are seeing. A very honest attempt by the film makers in my opinion to be as objective as possible.

That's what made this tough to's hard to try and understand what we are doing there. That region in Afghanistan is so vast, so remote and forbidding that I have no idea how one can conquer or tame it or it's inhabitants. It becomes increasingly frustrating has we follow these guys in their dealings with the locals who are caught in an impossible situation. When they cooperate with us, the Taliban kills them and when they cooperate with the Taliban, we kill them....what the hell are they supposed to do. Its an oversimplified but accurate description of the catch-22 they find themselves in every day.

I felt overwhelmed after watching this film even though these events now are 3 years in the past. I have no idea if the situation there is any more favorable now then it was then. All I can say is that it looked like an impossible job to try and win the hearts and minds of those local Afghans after watching this film. I suspect from our talk that my father feels the same way.

I really recommend  this documentary even more now that I had a night to think about it. I thinks its important for us to see and learn as much as we possibly can about the War In Afghanistan. Though far from a perfect film or an objective one, I think it captures those moments in time, those men and their mountainside as it was for them. And it let's the viewer decide for themselves what they think about it all....


I just finished watching the documentary "Restrepo" by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington on the National Geographic Channel. It follows a platoon of the 173rd Airborne during their 15th month deployment in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. At that time (2007-2008) the valley was the center for most of the combat contact in Afghanistan. It was an extremely deadly and desperate place to be for an American soldier, basically 19-22 year old "men" in this unit.

The documentary has done an incredible job taking the viewer right to that very place and time. I highly recommend this film to any and all Americans so that they may see for themselves what some folks are doing as they fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.....

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tear In My Hand

All the world just stopped now
So you say you don't want to stay together anymore
Let me take a deep breath babe
If you need me
Me and Neil'll be hangin' out with the dream king
Neil says hi
By the way I don't believe you're leaving
Cause me and Charles Manson like the same ice cream
I think it's that girl
And I think they're pieces of me you've never seen
Maybe shes just pieces of me you've never seen well

All the world is all I am
The blackest black of the blackest ocean
And the tear in your hand
All the world is dangling
Dangling'...Dangling' for me darlin'
You don't know the power that you have
Tear in your hand

Maybe I ain't used to maybes
Smashing in a cold room
Cutting my hands up every time I touch you
Maybe maybe it's time to wave goodbye now
Time to wave goodbye now
Caught a ride with the moon
I know I know you well
Better than I
Used to haze all clouded up
My mind in the daze of why it could've never been
So you say and I say
You know your full of wish
And your "baby baby baby babies"
I tell you they're pieces of me you've never seen
Maybe she'd just pieces of me you've never seen

All the world is all I am
The black of the blackest ocean
And the tear in your hand
All the world is danglin'...
Dangling'...Danglin' for me darlin'
You don't know the power that you have
With the tear in your hand
Tear in your hand
With that tear in your hand

By Tori Amos

A New Window To My Soul.....

Periodically I have posted song lyrics, poems or other written work on this site, mainly because it means something to me and I want to share it. Though I am trying through this blog to share pieces of myself through my own written work, at times I think it's appropriate to let these other influences share their own bits and pieces of who I am.

So what am I saying here? That I am going to more regularly post this kind of thing, beginning today. I will add that it is with some hesitation that I do this at all because I really believe I am opening an additional window into my soul as it were for all who read this to see. Perhaps there is no risk in that since not many folks are reading this blog at this time, lol. But that is beside the point, I feel it's worth doing so off we go......

Today we begin with a very influential artist to me beginning in the early 1990's that continues to this day: Tori Amos

Candid gallery page 5

Through The Looking Glass...

I have to confess that trying to post something interesting to read on a daily basis can be difficult. It becomes even more difficult when I have rarely left the house in the last couple of weeks because of my pneumonia. That certainly limits my perspective to what I already know, gather through the media or from the limited contact I've had with humans from the "outside"...I will admit though it's an interesting perspective, this world view through the looking glass of modern media....

I get the majority of the content for this blog from my life and trying to capture my thoughts, feelings, opinions, etc on a day to day basis. So recently that has been a real challenge since I use observations of my experience as fodder for my posts. And it's a challenge that will most likely continue at least through a good chunk of this week. I'll feel a bit better for a little while then later I slip back and I don't feel so hot. It's frustrating yet what can you do except keep at it and do your best at moving forward. So I'll be mainly sticking around the home front though I expect to get out for a little while this morning.

So the challenge of reporting on life from my bedroom continues...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Grands

What can I say about being a Grandfather that hasn't already been said by others?

Funny but it's one of the few times I'm actually at a loss for words. It's so "BIG", so emotional....that attachment that it's rather difficult for me to explain.

 (MR.)Mason (A nickname)is the eldest of my daughter Chelsea's 2 boys, Mason and Maddox. Every time I hear that little guy say Grandpa This or Grandpa that, I want to melt. It almost seems unreal that it's a dream. How could I possibly be a grandfather? How unworthy I feel at times yet how grateful I am to indeed be their "Grandpa".

Maddox is the youngest and as is my habit he is already "Maddy" (Yea, I tend to come up with nicknames rather often, a habit I inherited from my Father). He isn't having spoken conversations but we understand each other perfectly. I have to believe this is part of a secret, special, unspoken language understood only by Grandfather's and their Grandson's.

Because I am a grandpa now, it is absolutely impossible for me to have a bad day. Why? Because all I have to do if I am beginning to feel the day slip away, things aren't going well or crazy stuff is happening, is take one look at a picture like the one above....and it all melts into one big smile and things instanly seem better.

The Day After...

Yesterday was not a good day to be a Purdue Boilermaker sports fan. First of all the football team lost another game they seemingly had some control over...this one in overtime to IU, their arch rivals.
Purdue wide receiver Gary Bush can't quite hold on to a deep pass in the second quarter. Bush had one catch in the game.

As if that wasn't bad enough, their 8th ranked men's basketball Team lost to Richmond in a Holiday Tournament in Chicago. Richmond is a good team but frankly a team the boilers should have rolled over. Instead they were never really in the game, losing by 11.

Purdue's JaJuan Johnson (left) finds himself pressured by Richmond's Kevin Smith in Saturday night's game.

The kicker of course was that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish managed to hold on and win at USC, beating the Trojans for the first time in 8 years. It just  irks one to watch another rival have success when our teams are clearly struggling at the moment.

I don't know what to say about the football team. I'm not a doom and gloom guy (like my father is at the moment) convinced we can never be good with this coach and his type of recruit. On the other hand I see a disturbing trend  where the head coach is repeatedly making the same mistakes and clearly expecting a different result. Some use that as a rough definition of insanity: "When one makes the same decisions over and over and expects a different result".

The basketball team on the hand is is going to be fine I believe. In big time college B-Ball sometimes a loss like this early in Non-Conference play is a good motivator, providing the coach with obvious examples of areas that need improvement. I think they'll be just fine.

I have been a Purdue fan all of my life and it's not easy. I had the perfect excuse to be an Ohio State Fan like my sister, heck we grew up in Columbus Ohio. But no, my father went to Purdue as did several members of our family, shoot you could stand on my grandparents porch and look two blocks down to your left and their stood Mackey Arena and behind it Ross-Ade Stadium.

Well I suppose I have to practice a little acceptance in my life as a boiler fan as well, this too shall pass and tomorrow is another day....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

No Matter What

As I live my life today I have come to understand that ultimately I am the one responsible for what happens to me. I cannot control any one's behavior but my own and I offer no excuses. I screw up sometimes and it's up to me to be accountable for that when it happens. Sure, I can disagree with the actions of others but in the end my life is mine and I have to accept responsibility for it. What somebody else does is their business. And I have no control what so ever over what they do...I'm powerless.

The above concepts have been some of the hardest for me to accept and practice as I have tried to live a life of recovery today. In the past it has always been so easy to blame others....I can't afford to do that today. The key is accepting the things I cannot change, changing the things I can change and having the wisdom to know the difference between the two.

Again that's the rub. Knowing the difference. It's gotten easier to identify over time: If it has to do with any one's behavior but my own, I can't change it and  I must then find a way to accept that fact. That does not mean that I agree with them, nope. It just means I can't make them do what I want them to do. How many times I've tried to change people, to no avail. It just doesn't happen and I end up frustrated, hurt and angry. But I can change myself, my behavior and how I react to things. That is a key to serenity and an important one at that.

And it's difficult ...I've made a lot of mistakes along the way. I let things get to me and then I lash out emotionally.....that's really the last thing I want to do but it seems to come naturally for me. But again I have to be accountable and own my own actions....try to do it better the next time around.

I've mentioned this before but I have a buddy that often says that he is going to have a good day no matter what. How can he do that? How can he make it a good day. He isn't God, at least I'm pretty sure he isn't, lol! How? By accepting things the way they are and deciding that he is going to have a good day regardless of the things that happen. It is a choice...happiness. If you base your happiness on external things....possessions, stuff going the way you want it to go, other people, etc. I think you will end up being disappointed. That is just my experience.

I blogged the other day about having unrealistic expectations as far as the holidays go, as far as relationships go....that's my responsibility. Those were choices I made, I expected things to happen a certain way and when it didn't, well I ended up feeling hurt and disappointed. I should have known better and next time, I best change my expectations or the past will repeat itself...simple as that. 

So today, I'm going to have a good matter what! How about you?

A Father And A Son

The Purdue vs IU football game doesn't really register on the radar of big time college football games being played this weekend. There is not a championship on the line, no Bowl game at stake  or BCS implications...Nope, just two in-state college football teams going at it for pride. And Pride can make for some intense football games.

Both teams are playing for the sake of playing. Purdue trying to send their seniors out with one more win against IU in a game that the Boilers have recently dominated but by no means have in the bag this afternoon. IU to finish a disappointing season with a win and perhaps save their coaches job. Sad but that's life in bog time college football....

On a personal note, it's kind of a sad game for me today....because of my recent battles w/my health, I have to watch this one at home on TV. That means missing the opportunity to see it w/my father and brother-in-law David, who will be going to his first Purdue/IU game this afternoon. I was really looking forward to going but reason must prevail...and that's not always a given in my case!

The Purdue/IU game and rivalry, really going to Purdue game period for me are about my Dad, first and foremost. This is what he and I do on football Saturdays in the Fall. I have gone to Purdue games w/my father since the Ohio State Purdue game in 1967 in Ohio Stadium....I was 5 yrs old.

Too young to understand a thing about the game but no matter: to me it was about being with my father. We did that a lot when I was a kid, we spent a lot of time together at sporting events, mostly Purdue football and basketball games. And fortunately we still do....they still are one of my favorite ways to spend some time with my dad.

Like many teenage boys, I didn't always see eye to eye with my father but no matter how difficult things got between us, Purdue games were always a constant. Through thick and thin, good times and bad....we always shared that time together and I'll never forget it.

The Bucket Battle Purdue vs IU

Friday, November 26, 2010

EV: Spitting it All Out

Well I suspect this post is going to fall under the category of "Chatty". I have been spending a good deal of time alone (even though we have had a house full of company, go figure!?) so I suspect this would be my way of getting the little stuff off my chest.

As I mentioned earlier today, I am still quite sick with pneumonia and need to try and keep things toned down. Easier said then done for me....I've always been kind of wired to begin with and when you throw in restlessness, well I tend to bounce off the walls. I'm doing my damnedest NOT to bounce but hey, I only have so much self control....

I'm also a busy body and typically I always have to be doing something....I don't sit and relax very well. Perhaps at night with a book but it's gotten harder to just chill.

Hey what's up with our President getting busted in the chops during a basketball game?! That's a bit surreal....I don't believe Eisenhower ever got bashed in the mouth....Kennedy perhaps when Jackie found him fooling around with one of the staff girls...KaaaPow!!
President Obama walks to his car with Secret Service agents after being injured in a basketball game with friends and aides.

On a more serious note...things are getting a little hairy in Korea right now. I don't have much factual Info so it's hard to know what's really going on there but over the years we occasionally would hear that the North Koreans were bent outta shape about something and throwing a temper tantrum about this or that. Yea it's serious too when they get a bug up their ass because they have a huge Standing Army w/modern artillery and Tanks plus now it seems, Nuclear capability. And lets face it, their leadership is not a prime example of sanity in action, 'Ya know what I mean. Those guys are just plain NUTS!

I guess we are just going to have to sit tight and see what happens as far as a potential war is concerned. One would think that the futility of fighting in Korea would be obvious to them but they certainly have a tendency to react emotionally to stuff and just blast away....Now it seems that China has stepped in to mediate. Hmm, that makes me feel safer!!

Anyone who knows me is familiar with the fact that I had a serious dislike for going to Florida during the winter. Then 2 years ago I spent 6 weeks or so there and pretty much reevaluated my thinking on that issue. I really enjoyed myself. The only issue was again, I was often doing things alone. I was staying at my parents Condo in Englewood and as nice as that whole set up is, I really would have enjoyed it more if I'd had been able to find more to do with other people. I hiked and swam every day but those are still solitary endeavors, so....

OK, Turkey four meals in a freaking row is enough already!! Let's have a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich  or something for Christ's sake!....

Tomorrow is a big day for Big Ten Football because of the rivalry games, mainly the Michigan-Ohio State Game and the game that interests me the most but nobody else: Purdue-Indiana. And Yea, even though I have tickets, I'll being doing the sensible thing and staying home tomorrow to watch on television...

Some good friends of mine were having a get together tonight at 6p. A bring a dish to pass kind of thing followed by a guest speaker. I was looking forward to going but again, here I sit w/my trusty computer, typing away. Actually I feel better now that I Know a bit more about whats going on with my health.

I suppose it's probably time to find a local Doc here in the area as well. I've kept my physician in Holland, MI up to this point because I wasn't sure where I would end up living....I tend to think I'm going to be here on Coldwater Lake for the foreseeable future with jaunts to S Florida in the Winter. It just feels strange thinking about getting a different doctor, I've had the same guy since 1984. Please no George Orwell comparisons, please!! It's not that he is some super healer or anything but once I get comfortable with someone like that, I appreciate the familiarity of it all.

Holy smokes have I rattled on here with some truly boring shit, eh? God, well i suppose it's better then letting this lame life story stuff fester inside...time to spit it out as it were.Ii kind of liken it to Emotional Vomiting, for lack of a better way to describe it.

Any how, It's time to pull the plug and wish everyone a wonderful evening...

No Football Game Tomorrow...

Yep, Pneumonia! Well back to the drawing board. This stuff just will not go away!. It has been a full month of symptoms, lots of meds and still we go on and on and on.

Well, that settles that, I won't be going to the Purdue vs Indiana Game tomorrow in West Lafayette. It's a bummer because my dad and I were going with my brother-in-law David, who is visiting with my Sis Elizabeth and her daughter Loren.

Man it feels like defeat to give in to this Sh*t but I guess I have to if I want to get better...
(1/2) Alright, I'm trying the mobile blog thing again...this time from an examination room at the Med Center in Angola IN....seems my past Pneumonia type crud
(2/2) doesn't want to let me go. I'm just sitting here bored waiting for an X RAY.....

Oh, To Decide....

Well,'s a brand new day, imagine that!! A fresh pallet as it were. If the previous day felt a bit less then satisfying, guess what?! We get another chance to do it again, perhaps tweak it some, hopefully apply lessons learned from previous days disappointments and make it an even better day today. Go Today!!

Or considering it's the Day After (American) Thanksgiving (as a wonderful Canadian Friend reminds me) we can just sit, Veg, feel fat and watch College Football all day long.....Ach, Choices!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Big Bummer

Well the end of another holiday and frankly, it couldn't have come sooner. As much as I hope other folks have had a nice time, for me it can't end soon enough. I can't stand 'em really, they always leave me feeling rather lonely and kinda empty inside. It's just another day on the planet, when it comes right down to it.

I just do not enjoy holidays at all. At one time that was probably my own fault. My expectations might have been too high or I was acting like an ass, usually because I'd rather be somewhere else where I could be drinking. I just wouldn't pretend that I was enjoying myself or even try to make the best of it. Nope I hated being around everyone and it showed.

Now a days, I kind of look forward to them but they usually end up disappointing me and this Thanksgiving Day was no different.It's just another day that reminds me that my family is far away and rarely ever here.I'd rather be somewhere else myself...anywhere other then here. I suppose that sounds sad but for the most part even though I spend holidays with a bunch of people, I tend to feel rather alone inside.

For a long time I got through the holidays w/out really feeling much because I didn't trust enough to reach out to others so I had no expectations. Since then I've come out of my shell a bit and really made an effort to reach out to various friends and family but now I just end up feeling sad when folks don't seem to have the same level of care and concern for me as I seem to have for them.

And honestly, I should know better then to expect anything from others but I trust that people are going to keep their commitments then more often then not, they don't. And since I opened myself up to trust, I end up feeling hurt, again and again.

It leaves me in a position where I have to choose: do I continue to trust and encourage these get togethers or do I pull back and play it safe....I do not have an answer tonight to that question.

So I'll close....sorry for the less then cheerful post this evening but this is how I feel. The sun will rise tomorrow and the dawn will bring a new day....and we'll see how it goes, good night.

To Our Service Men and Woman....

25 November, 2010 Thanksgiving day...I'm sitting here this cold, wet Thanksgiving morning at my grandfathers desk, thinking how grateful I am to the men and woman who are serving in our military today, many of them far from their homes, families and any kind of holiday cheer. Some are out there on patrol this morning in the Korengal or other valley's in Afghanistan, literally putting it all on the line, so we can be home, so our country can be free. Here I am warm and comfortable at home this morning while many of them....are certainly NOT.

I know that it has become somewhat expected these days for folks to say they appreciate our service men and woman, it's become routine for politicians, TV personalities, etc. But I really mean it, our country owes them so much....

So to all our Veterans and Active Service personal: Happy Thanksgiving 2010!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two men I'll Never Forget

Today is the Day before Thanksgiving and naturally I'm thinking about stuff I'm thankful for. The list is indeed long yet I often forget to thank two gentlemen who have given me and others so much.

To Bill and Dr Bob....from the very bottom of my heart, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Warmest Regards Always....Thom

A Man In A Mirror....

I can be a difficult person to spend time with, I realize that. I'm opinionated and certainly not shy about expressing that opinion either. For someone who is somewhat of an introvert, I can be rather assertive when expressing a thought, feeling or opinion that I feel strongly about. This turns people off and I can understand that. It is something, one of many things that I am working to improve in my life today.

I really would like to be a better listener as well but I can't shut my own mouth off long enough to give some else a chance to speak...One Day At a Time I will work on listening, not expressing my own thoughts, feelings and opinions. Easier said then done but I've learned through experience that in can be done so I'm going to give it a shot. (Funny thing but one of the reasons that I blog is to "spit these opinions out" in one place so I can focus more in face to face communication on listening...)

Self reflection does not come easily to me and I also have to be a bit careful when looking at my character defects and behaviors I'm not OK with. Why? Because I came from a place in my life, not all that long ago where I hated everything about myself. And I mean that literally: Hated Myself. To the point where it was self abusive and suicidal. So I have to always keep things in perspective, to maintain some balance between the positive and negative. It's a fine line for me and that's OK, today I at least know where the line actually is and that helps me not cross it in moments of guilt or anger.

Staying sober also helps a great deal in this regard, LOL!! Who likes much about themselves when they are drunk and high all the time. Or sick and trying to get drunk or high? Not a happy life, I assure you.

Starting off my day with such self reflection can seem a bit of a "heavy" way to start one's day, I'll admit it. But I've found that it is best FOR ME if I list the defects that I would like to work on each morning it becomes easier for me to stay aware of them through out the day..Whatever works, eh?!

So I begin yet another day on the planet.....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No Matter What...

Sometimes I'm just not feeling "it"....I don't have the enthusiasm I think I should. Perhaps I'm tired, not sleeping well or just really busy...often it's all three. Or maybe it's a mood thing, life isn't flowing along like it usually does and I get ornery or cranky. That's happened more and more often these days.  Where I just don't have it all together and things seem to take more effort to accomplish then they usually do. In my past, those types of days would build, one after another until I never could feel satisfied about anything and certainly never, ever freakin' way.

Today I guess I realize bad days are just a temporary condition...and they will pass if I just keep plugging along. I used to mock the whole "think positively" line of thought and figured it was all a bunch of hooey but actually, I never really tried it. Yep, the joke was on me because it's made a huge difference in how I think, feel and relate to living these days.

I have to add that there is a sense of serenity these days in knowing that nothing is final, a mood will move on....eventually, if I let it. In the past, I often caused my own discomfort in life because I refused to let go of the things that were bothering me, no matter how small they were until they built into something really crappy. And then I felt sorry for myself, Poor me...A self fulfilling prophecy of doom and gloom, right?!

Not today. I have a good friend that often begins his sharing with the phrase: "Today is going to be a good day no matter what...If I let it!". How true...If I let it. That's the key: Getting my sorry ass out of the way and letting it be a good day, no matter what happens....And it works!

Monkey Man

I tend to associate things w/music, I just always have. Certain songs will remind me of things. I'm sure that's pretty typical for many folks, music is the soundtrack of our lives. That is certainly the case w/me. Except this morning the soundtrack bit has taken a turn towards the surreal and once again pehaps, I've taken things too far.

Too far? As in singing the Rolling Stone's "Monkey Man" will literally making Monkey Bread. What a hard core, pushing the limits kind of life I lead, eh. "Let It Bleed" happens to be a favorite Stones Album of mine but then again, most of them are. I love the Rolling Stones. But that tune is not one I tend to hear or think much about.

Of course the Monkey Bread logically leads me to think "Monkey Man" or the man making the bread of the Monkey is the Monkey Man, dig?! I'm beginning to think that it's possible this blogging about my daily life thing may be letting folks in a little to close to who and what I really am and what I think about on a day to day basis. Oh hell, most folks think I'm nuts anyway so I might as well confirm it for 'em, eh?!! The mystery ends today, Thom has officially lost his "M-M-M-Monkey" mind, so why don't we all sing it together, shall we:

I'm a fleabit peanut monkey
All my friends are junkies
That's not really true

I'm a cold Italian pizza
I could use a lemon squeezer
What you do?

But I've been bit and I've been tossed around
By every she-rat in this town
Have you, babe?

Well, I'm just a monkey man
I'm glad you are a monkey woman too

I was bitten by a boar
I was gouged and I was gored
But I pulled on through

Yes, I'm a sack of broken eggs
I always have an unmade bed
Don't you?

Well I hope were not too messianic
Or a trifle too satanic
We love to play the blues

Well I'm just a monkey man
I'm glad you are a monkey, monkey woman too, babe

I'm a monkey
I'm a monkey
I'm a monkey man
I'm a monkey man
I'm a monkey ....

"Monkey Man" The Rolling Stones (Richards/Jagger)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Big Red Bow

Darkness has settled down over the lake and a brisk breeze rattles the now leafless trees above. I can hear them though they are no longer visible. It's winter just waiting to happen here in Southern Michigan, just a few days shy of another Thanksgiving and start to the Holiday Season. 

I know the Holidays are coming because I am now regularly seeing the Lexus TV Commercials with the big red bows on their cars. It used to be the Norelco Commercial with Santa riding the electric razor through the snow, down the hill and over the wee, little bridge but now it's cars with big 'ole bows on 'em. 

Come to think of it, I don't think I know anyone who has just received a car for Christmas or a birthday out of the blue like that. I always thought those ads were so unrealistic, that no "regular" folks would relate but they must be effective because they keep running new ones year after year. Perhaps it's like a dream for some folks, they know it won't ever happen to them but it's cool to dream about it.

Who knows, I still think the ads are corny but maybe I'm just being cynical. Yea me, Mr Positive being sarcastic and cranky again, so out of character, right?! Uh, no....that's pretty accurate actually but I'm not happy unless I'm taking shots at something I find amusing.

Leave it to me to sit down here to wax poetic about nightfall at the lake and now I'm giving Lexus a load of crap for their ridiculous TV Commercials. really, it doesn't take much to get me started....

Olin's Desk

It's a oak desk. I haven't a clue how old it is though I'm sure it's 80, possibly pushing 100 years old. It's a bit worn, somewhat battered but it's held up well over time. But I'm not that motivated to know it's age really. The desk is not fancy, a pretty straight forward design...solid, heavy with drawers on both sides but one of it's nicest features is the large workspace, the desk top itself. It's massive and quite an upgrade over the 4 wood TV dinner tables had I configured into a workspace before I brought the desk down last night.

As nice as it is to have such a nice place to work I still haven't gotten to the best part about this oak desk. It belonged to my grandfather, Olin W Davis. Now the mystery of my middle name is finally out...Olin.! (I'm often asked what the "O" stands for in Thomas O Davis).

That is the coolest part of all of this, I'm working at Paw Paw's desk, after all these years. I'm funny about stuff like this. I feel the connection quite deeply and it's particularly important because Olin passed away when I was only 7 so my physical time with him on the planet was short. But I certainly remember him! But more often in my memories of him, he was in a fishing boat, not at a desk!

But this desk does indeed connect me, back through all those years to my grandfather...perhaps it's just sentiment or the personal significance as I have always appreciated family history. But I think it's I sit here I just feel....better. Knowing that he sat here, in this same spot behind this desk just brings me closer to him and to that time so long ago. And I like that.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Anybody Out There?

A few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to really focus on reinvigorating (or maybe just invigorating!) this Blog. I hadn't really done much with it recently but I felt like it was definately time to do something more with what I already had going here.

To a certain extent I've done that, thanks mainly to being a prisoner in my own house thanks to Pneumonia. But I feel like I've run out of juice a little bit. Perhaps that is just a temporary reaction to having been couped up so long and not having much i could really do. In other words I'm a bit bored and want to get out and get on with my life a bit more.

I think part of my hesitation here is I'm not really getting any feedback so I have no idea how I'm doing or if anyone at all is reading this thing. Is it worth even worth doing? I think I can answer that question w/out any feedback because I feel a sense of accomplishment writing and that is plenty of justification for me at this time.

But a Blog is a form of communication and I've always believed that it takes more then one person to effectively communicate. I realize that I may be asking for trouble here but I'd like to hear from somebody, anybody that happens to read this. I happen to be at a cross roads as it were in terms of trying to decide what direction to take this thing. Is it interesting when I write about my addiction and recovery? Would a sports based blog be more entertaining? Should I narrow the focus to something more specific or is my original notion of just "Writing what I see, feel, think and hear" on a day by day basis, interesting enough.

I realize that sometimes a person should be careful what they ask for but in this case I would really like some feedback, or observations or comments about anything, really. Is that a bit too much to ask, perhaps I'm just not writing well enough to provoke thought and feedback. If that's the case, well I'll find out, won't I.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Please God

I know this is inappropriate, to ask God for stuff like this but please, don't let my Boilers get destroyed by Michigan State today!

Sacrilege, maybe but I'm desperate here. I have no idea whats going on with this University's major sports teams and injuries. The football team alone has lost:

All American Wide Reciever Kieth Smith Knee Injury BEFORE the season even started.

Starting QB Robert Marve Knee 2nd game

2nd Team QB Caleb TerBush Academics

WR QB RB Justin Siller Ankle 4th game

WR Kieth Carlos Knee 5th game

1st Team RB Ralph Bolden Knee Before the season

New starting RB Al-Terek McBurse Knee

3rd Team QB Tore nail on index finger of throwing at at OSU

S Albert Evans
LB Jason Werner Back

And the list goes on....

Now in Basketball the Leader of the team Robbie Hummel re-injured the knee that knocked him out last year and will miss this season. He was one of # pre-season All-Americans on this years team.

G KK Houser of the woman's team, out for the year and there are many more. I think they need to re-evaluate their training staff...Honestly!

So Please, dear God don't let Sparty Kill Pete....lets keep it close eh?!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Gift Of Grandchildren

My post this morning spoke of life itself as a gift, a wonderful, powerful amazing gift. And it certainly is. For me, one of the things that makes it so special are my family and specifically my two grandsons Mason and Maddox.Both of them are pictured below w/yours truly and their mum, my beautiful daughter Chelsea.

There is just something magical about being a grandparent. I liked being a dad, even a single dad which I was for a time. I love my children and they mean a great deal to me. Grandchildren somehow are different.

Many people have tried to explain it like it's all the fun of having kids w/out the responsibility...I would say there is some truth to that. For me though it was a case where I felt so much pressure to succeed, to care for my kids, make sure they were OK that I didn't always take the time to stop and just enjoy my time w/them, And in hindsight, that's rather sad.

But with the grand kids it's different, I'm different so I realize how precious time together really is. And I try and take advantage of it as often as I can.

My daughter and her family live 600 miles away....that makes things a bit difficult because I'd love to be able to just hop in the car any day of the week and go pick up those two boys for the day. I honestly believe I would never get tired of it....

But that isn't reality right now but I'm fortunate enough to be able to visit and I'm actually planning my next trip for mid-December. I can't wait....

The Gift

Yes, I have another day on the least the start of a day (one is never sure what's going to happen, eh?!). Since I've been sober, I've tended to look at each new day as a gift. Not a bad perspective really and for me, it's no doubt the truth.

When you spend each moment of your life wishing you were dead, living as if you wanted to die, doing your damnedest to push the limits of health, sanity and common's obvious that you have no idea what an amazing, beautiful, wonderful thing our lives, this life...can be. Nope, I just survived, barely and that was it. And I survived at least part of that time against my own will because I truly didn't want to live anymore. Living was painful, death seemed like a pleasant alternative. Yet in the end, after trying my hardest, I couldn't take my own life, I couldn't "git er done".

Think about that. Death seemed to me to be a PLEASANT freaking alternative to life! I'm not kidding, I truly felt that way....and then something changed. To this day I can't say exactly how or when the change occurred....but it did. And One day At A Time, here I am today....

So what am I going to do with this gift of another day? It's a very good question...What are you gonna do?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Suicide In The Trenches- Reflections of an addict

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

By Siegfried Sassoon

The preceding poem is another long time favorite of mine. Why, you may ask? Why that dark, heavy, tragic poem from the Great war. It's a traumatic, stark, terrible tale of a soldiers suicide followed by his memory fading into oblivion. Why? In one simple sentence: I could relate to it.

Those words describe so clearly how I felt as a practicing addict/alcoholic. I am not trying to say an addict is the same as the noble soldier who goes off to fight for his country and suffers while doing it. Nope, not at all...what I am saying is the feelings can be similar, the horror one feels inside is often the same. The terror, loneliness, fear...the pain. 

During my active addiction, I often found myself dreaming and relating vividly to combat situations, particularly through reading the works of Great War Poets like Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Ivor Gurney, Edmund Blunden and Robert Graves. I could identify with what they were describing....emotionally.Their words went right through me to what was left of my heart.

"The hell where youth and laughter go". God, I knew that feeling, it's exactly what I'd thought I'd lost. Youth, laughter, happiness...myself, my life. The lines preceding those, so filled w/anger, bitterness followed by the accusation that the smug majority of the people in society don't know me or understand what I was going through. BINGO once again...I hated them for their indifference, I hated me for my nothingness. I was dying inside and nobody cared. That was my perception and it was really how I felt.

Thankfully,I don't feel those things today. Life in recovery has certainly changed my perspective, my outlook and my feelings about that time of my life. I had no one to blame but myself. Any isolation was intentional at that point in time, I couldn't bear the thought of being with anyone, hell I couldn't stand being around myself.

But this poem and others like it were the first inkling that I had that other people had felt the way that I had. In it's own strange, round-about way, deep,down inside....this poem gave me hope. Hope that I wasn't alone. That somebody, somewhere felt as I felt, That they were afraid like me.

Those little bits of hope were just the beginning, I believe, of the process that became my recovery. And for me, recovery gave me my life back, so essentially, it became life. Recovery=Life....

What's up with all the poetry?!

Lately I've been posting some of the poetry that has come to mean something to me over the years. Most of it, in fact everything I've posted so far goes way back for me. Each of these poems means or represents something pretty significant to me and are just as meaningful now as they were when I they first discovered me (in other words:When I first read them).

I'm not about to go into why each is significant because I believe the poem itself represents a feeling and speaks for itself, therefore it speaks for me. I might discuss or refer to some of the  relevance, it all depends where I'm going with each blog, we'll have to see. Folks that know me realize that nothing is ever written in stone, I tend to be in a constant state of change so this is definately nothing new, to change my mind.

I'm pretty much in a groove with this poetry thing at the moment so I'm sure some more will follow but I will continue to also include posts relevant to whats happen now as well.

So Have a Happy Happy or if you'd rather Have a Shitty Shitty DAY (see I'm all about having choices!)...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spring Offensive

Halted against the shade of a last hill,
They fed and lying easy, were at ease
And finding comfortable chests and knees
Carelessly slept. But many there stood still
To face the stark, blank sky beyond the ridge,
Knowing their feet had come to the end of the world.

Marvelling they stood and watched the long grass swirled
By the May breeze, murmurous with wasp and midge,
For though the summer oozed into their veins
Like the injected drug for their bones' pains,
Sharp on their souls hung the the imminent line of grass,
fearfully flashed the sky's mysterious glass.

Hour after hour they ponder the warm field-
And the far valley behind, where the buttercups
Had blessed with gold their slow boots coming up.
Where even the little brambles would not yield,
But clutched and clung to them like sorrowing hands,
They breathe like trees unstirred.

Till like a cold gust shrilled the little word
At which each body and it's soul begird
And tighten them for battle. No alarms
Of bugles, no high flags, no clamorous haste-
Only a lift and flare of eyes that faced
the sun, like a friend with whom their love is done.
O larger shone that smile against the sun,-
Mightier than his whose bounty these have spurned.

So, soon they topped the hill and raced together
Exposed. And instantly the whole sky burned
With fury against them; and soft sudden cups
Opened in thousands for their blood; and the green slopes
Chasmed and steepened sheer to infinite space,

Of them who running on that last high place
Leapt to swift unseen bullets or went up
On the hot blast and fury of hell's upsurge,
Or plunged and fell away past this world's verge,
Some say God caught them before they fell.

But what say such as from existence' brink
Ventured but drave too swift to sink.
The few who rushed in the body to enter hell,
And there out-fiending all its fiends and flames
With superhuman inhumanities,
Long-famous glories, immemorial shames-
And crawling slowly back, have by degrees
Regained cool peaceful air in wonder-
Why speak they not of comrades that went under?

By Wilford Owen

Not So Wonderful....

Not my best effort or my best judgement.....

That is the conclusion I just came to after re-reading my post from earlier this afternoon. Lame, amateurish, crass, not really funny....I'll face the facts, I don't care for it much myself.

But in the spirit of wanting to capture my thoughts, opinions, etc. of the moment, I'm going to leave it posted. I just don't want to get into constant editing or worse yet censoring my own work. That certainly is something I do NOT believe in and refuse to practice....short of war time/combat/protecting lives type censorship.

So that means that once in a while I am going to quickly post something, discover later that it's awful...and have to accept it. Of course I retain the right to Post another blog refuting, explaining or apologizing for the blog I dislike.

Time for Purdue Basketball on TV. Yep sports are one thing I do watch on TV. I've probably watched more lately because I've been home sick then I have in a long time and frankly, I'm sick of it.

Have a wonderful evening....

Sound the Trumpet!

Now I realize I'm going to tread on sacred ground here a bit and share a family secret. Why? I really haven't a clue..."perhaps it might make an entertaining blog post", I thought.

My family likes to Fart....I'm mean REALLY likes it. I haven't the slightest idea where the knack for it came from. My father's Mum seemed too dignified a lady to crack one, even after her nightly 2 glasses of Bourbon. It's possible but I never witnessed it. Now her husband, my middle namesake, Olin Davis surely could have been a one of the original culprits but he passed away when I was 8 and again I just don't remeber.

My Mum and her side of the family were certainly NOT to be caught dead "breakin' The 'Ole Wind" anywhere it could have been seen or heard by anyone else. A rather stoic, yea even uptight bunch they were and still are. That set of grandparents passed years before I was even born so I don't even have the judgement of my own perceptions to go on here. based on my Mother's siblings I would say, way. A Fart Free Family for sure. Well...

I guess I should clarify what I'm referring to when I talk about farting here. Naturally all humans pass gas...shoot, we have to or we would explode or at least feel terribly uncomfortable!). I'm not talking about those little necassary "tooters" that slip out because we need relief. NOOOO, I'm talking about Farting For Fun or the 3F's! Yea, Flatulation purely for the entertainment of one's self, family and friends (or whoever else may be within blasting distance). My family farts for the pure enjoyment of it and has a passion for passing (pardon the pun) on passing the gas to others. We have taken it to another level.

I know there are situations like a group of guys hanging out at the cabin up north during deer season. The beer is flowing and soon after, someone turns on the to speak. I'm not even talking about that. This is wholesome, family time farting. Truly there is nothing more touching then a father, his son and the boy's grandfather falling out of their chairs w/laughter because they can't stop ripping them while the family sits together on a Saturday night playing dominoes. Brings a tear to the eye, eh?

In my family, the leader of the Flatulence Pack is my Dad. I will never, ever forget the twinkle in his eye and the tiny hint of a smirk he gets when he's holding on to ONE for the opportune time....priceless. Gosh I love that guy...He has passed it on to me, it wasn't much of a stretch really, I was a eager student.

My son on the other hand seems to have a few issues of complexity when it came to letting them fly. I do believe deep down he likes it as much as the rest of it but he has a steady girlfriend and has to keep up the appearance of culture and class. Just kidding...the fart gene does seem to have skipped Ian, not sure how that happened, perhaps I'm just a lousy father...

It truly is an art, to call them up at will. To classify them by sound or smell. I'll save those specifics for another time.....

My poor Mother on other hand does not find much humor in our cherished pass time. Perhaps it really is a "Man thing" but I have to say I know a few woman who can crank 'em out as good as any man, any day of the week. You know who you are!!

Back to my Mum for a minute. I have to say that though she obviously doesn't like it when Dad and I are having a Toot-Around, or discussing flatulation at the dinner table, etc. She has come to accept that "Boys will be Boys" and tolerates us the best she can. We always get a few "eye rolls" and a"that's enough now!!" but basically she ignores us.

Honestly I cannot tell you why I chose that as a subject to write about this afternoon but there it is. I vowed when I started writing this little blog that I wouldn't "over think it" or "over produce it". Nope, I would just get an idea, run with it....clean up the grammar a bit, etc and publish it as is. I still abide by that rule today. As much as I'd like to save a draft and work on it 'til it's perfect....I can't do it. I want to keep the live vibe as much as possible so here we go....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Scary Thoughts

I have had a lot of time lately to think. Because I've been home sick (Relax, I won't use this blog post to whine about Pneumonia again)that translates into a lot of extra time, just sitting here thinking about stuff. I'm not a big TV guy and though I love to read I haven't always felt well enough the last couple of days (OK, that was a short, oblique reference to having Pneumonia)to do it so I've just sat back and reflected on stuff.

My friends are now going:"Holy Sh$t, that's a scary thought, Thom sitting around thinking all day, watch out!..." and I can't say I would blame them. It can be rather frightening, that place between my ears, I'll be the first to admit it. But occasionally, at least lately, it does me some good once in a while to go over things in my life and see how it's actually going. But this time I didn't really do any reflecting....I just got annoyed.

Yea, I did...I sat there and thought about things that bug me these days.Commercials, lousy drivers, TV shows, etc. Things like people who still have election signage in their yard two freakin' weeks after the election ended. OK, we know you a procrastinator, take the damn sign down already, sheesh!

Fox News programing from 5-11p as another. I'm seriously considering jumping off a bridge if I have to see or hear Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck or Shawn Hannity give their "fair and balanced" opinion even one more time. I know I've already bitched about this but since I live w/someone who watches that stuff religiously, owns the home I live in and is hard of hearing to boot, I'm stuck. Basically that means seeing or at least hearing it constantly for 3 or more hours every single night. And hell, I'm what I'd call an open-minded, somewhat conservative person! It's not that I always disagree w/everything they's that they actually make no effort at all to truly be fair and balanced. That's what really grinds me. Their idea of fair/balanced was that when FN was introduced, it gave the viewing audience a alternative view point to the  3 Network News Departments and CNN, who obviously had a fairly Democratic agenda to promote.

None of the News Networks are fair and balanced, not ONE!...It's not their job, nope their job is to make $$ for the owners by selling a format that attracts advertisers because a ton of people are watching their programming...that's it. They are out for the MONEY...and there is nothing wrong with that.The issue is that some folks actually believe that the folks at FOX are actually promoting a conservative agenda because it's the right thing to do.....nope, NO Way. It's the lucrative thing to do because they realized that a vast group of Americans are conservative and there was absolutely NO network that catered to the conservative viewpoint. They have the entire market to themselves. Rupert Murdoch is many things, being stupid is not one of them. He's a brilliant businessman and this was an absolutely awesome business decision to create Fox News.

I think it's become immensely popular for people to gather their news by watching these opinion oriented shoes like O'Reilly, etc. because they are quite entertaining. But that's where the slope gets a bit slippery in my opinion.It is entertainment, not news...sure there is some news thrown in but the show should not be the one and only resource to form one's opinions on candidates for office or other important issues. That is whats dangerous..because a lot of people on all sides of the political spectrum are doing just that, getting "their" opinion from CNN, FN, MSNBC, etc.and accepting what they are hearing as the truth. It's not THE TRUTH, it's merely the networks OPINION. Please show me how Glenn Beck is the least bit fair and balanced and has anything to say about actual news?! It's an opinion show, plain and simple... and that's great, more power to him. Just don't try feeding the line of crap that this is NEWS and that it's BALANCED.

Honestly, to make informed judgments on candidates for office, economic issues, international relations and environmental issues, etc. one needs to put the work in to get multiple opinions, research a bit then form an actual opinion of their own....that's my take anyway. We live in a free country, why not exercise your right to make your OWN choices instead of just doing what someone on TV says to do. That's not too different then how the Third Reich came into existence....

Now that I have covered that, I'm to tired to write anymore this afternoon so the rest of my "things that annoy me blog" will have to wait for another time. I have to get my rest, I have Pneumonia, 'ya know!

Late October by Maya Angelo

the leaves of autumn
sprinkle down the tinny
sound of little dyings
and skies sated
of ruddy sunsets
of roseate dawns
roil ceaselessly in
cobweb greys and turn
black for comfort.

Only lovers
see the fall
a signal end to endings
a gruffish gesture alerting
those who will not be alarmed
that we begin to stop
in order simply
to begin

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Died For Beauty

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room
He questioned softly why I failed?
"For beauty," I replied.

"And I for truth-the two are one;
We brethren are," he said
And so, as kinsmen met a-night,
We talked between the rooms
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.

Emily Dickinson


Yea, so what! I got my Mr Cranky Pants attitude on today and I feel unrepentant, vibrant even, alive.....uh,, not really alive. Or vibrant really...mainly just cranky and sort of unrepentant. Unrepentant takes energy, something I have very little of this cold Southern Michigan morning.

Basically I'm whining because I don't feel as well as I THINK I SHOULD and I'm ornery. That's ornery, not horny...horny takes energy which I'm already officially on record as saying I have very little of, none to spare actually...even for horny. Now that's being sick, I'd say.

Yep, that's it...I'm still sick, Pnumi's got me down and I THINK it should have run it's course by now and be over. I should feel better now....but I don't. So cranky has seeped into to my usually upbeat morning mood (Oh Yea, I'm one of those pesky "Morning People", annoying aren't we?!)and seriously impacted my day, Wah, Wah...

OK, I know better....what I THINK should be and what actually IS are often two different things and that conflict is something that historically I haven't handled very well. I'm trying to reconcile the two, trying to "Find the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and (most importantly,) the WISDOM to know the difference. (I couldn't resist throwing in the Serenity Prayer, that little sanity saving ditty that has rescued me from many crappy days...).

The last line of the S.P., has always been the troublemaker because I used to think I was GOD and I could do, control anything....(LOUD BUZZER OR AIR HORN SOUND HERE)...WRONG. Geez, that couldn't be further from the truth. I couldn't tie my freaking shoes at one point in my life w/out creating chaos.I had control of absolutely NOTHING.

As soon as I realized that and accepted it....things got a bit easier. Yet I still have my today when I want to "feel like I don't have Pneumonia when I actually do and could be in hospital right now so I actually should be thankful instead of bitchy!).

 But hey, I'm only human right? "Ya live and learn and this Mr Cranky Pants will drink plenty of fluids, take it easy (very hard for this spastic individual!) and take my Meds. Have a marvelous Monday...