Friday, October 22, 2010

It feels like the first time.
I’m surfing @cdirksen’s Phish thread and have to pull myself away to blog about Twitter. I could rummage though Twitter’s closet for hours. It’s like discovering the internet all over again.
Tweets, micro bursts of thought, are cognitive headlines limited to 140 characters or less. It demands brevity. Hemingway would have been a masterful tweeter. I thought Twitter was just a bunch of 14-year olds telling each other what they had for breakfast. But the sophistication and creativity of the material is astounding.
It’s ten o’clock on Thursday night and I’m searching topics that interest me, #phish, #jonstewart, and #theonion. These commercial outfits generally use the microblog as a marketing tool to draw people to their main site. But as a user, the more attractive part was getting real-time information from fellow fans tweeting. I’m hunting around for fifteen minutes, stumble onto a Phish feed, and someone mentions that Trey Anastasio, the guitarist for Phish, was just referenced on The Office. I turn on the TV and dial up my dvr of The Office episode that just aired.
It was easy to quickly connect with people who share my same interests, even for a first-time user. And I swear the cold beer I sip tastes better, knowing I just used this technology to enhance my life. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Transitive Nightfall of Diamonds

The driveway's full so I park on the front lawn, along the street. Quickly walking over icy grass, I see a familiar bush and pause. “Oh Man, that’s where I puked and thought I was going to die. Southern Comfort...more like Dixie Nightmare.”

It’s not a pleasant memory and the cold wind lashes my freshly shaved face, so I don’t loiter long. Walking up to the front door feels strange. We always went throught the garage and straight down to the basement.

“Proctor-man!” A couple of shouts followed by high-fives and hugs. The smiles are the same but the eyes have extra miles. There’s small talk and the first beer slides down quickly. “Hey, let’s have one down in the basement before we go.”

A majority of my wayward high school days were spent in the basement. My friend’s mom was easy going and let us hang there without supervision--she had raised three rambunctious boys on her own and by the time my buddy was seventeen, she had checked out. It was a burnout oasis.

As we descend into the musky grotto, half-baked memories come flooding back. A Grateful Dead poster remains at the bottom of the stairs and empty liquor bottles still line the top of the concrete foundation like dusty trophies. What filthy stories of subterranean debauchery they could tell. I notice a couple of Smirnoff bottles I had a hand in finishing. I feel proud and immediately ridiculous for feeling that way.

“Dude, no way, you slept with her too?!?”

JULIE’S A SLUT is spray painted on the concrete wall. The red paint is slightly faded, but her tarnished reputation remains--immortalized by a heartbroken teenage author. No wonder people burn books.

We shwill down our drinks and hop into the taxi for the hotel.

In the reception hall, the overhead flourescent lights are too bright and the band is too loud. The saxophone, yes a saxophone, is out of key and the line for the bar is ten people deep. Obviously I’m not the only one in need of liquid relief.

While fidgeting in my pocket for change, a voice calls my name. It’s Julie. “You look great. You haven’t changed at all,” she says. 

“You look amazing too. What are you up to?”

The girl with the scarlet tag is now a married mother of two and living as a housewife in Atlanta. She’s a God-fearing Christian and treasurer of her oldest daughter’s soccer team.

I want to go back to the basement and paint over her name. But I won’t.

I drift in and out of different biographies over the next couple hours…marriages, babies, jobs, rehab and death. Eventually the saxaphone plays its last off-key note and we all wander our separate ways again.

Arriving back at my front door, the key scratches around the lock a few times before sinking in. I head to the kitchen for a bourbon nightcap. It’s Johnny Walker Blue, not Southern Comfort, but mind wanders back to that naseous experience 10 years earlier and as I reach for the glass tumbler, it knocks off the counter. Tiny shards litter the kitchen floor.

“What the hell,” says my girlfriend, who's just appeared in the kitchen doorway. “That’s one of the nice glasses Anna got me from New York.”

“It’s only a glass,” I sneer. “It would have broke sooner or later.”

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Long Shadows

He ran because he knew he was going to die. Just finished watching ESPN's inspirational documentary about Terry Fox: An amazing story about a young runner with cancer not giving in and attacking each day.

I jump off the couch and dance into the kitchen. The dishes get an enthusiastic handwashing and are swung into the cabinets.  One the other side of the room, my girlfriend chops summer squash that was grown and donated by our neighbors. 

I feel a bit of guilt. Our neighbors are an elderly couple and every time I see the husband I hear, “Hey Jared, stop working so hard and come on over for a drink!” I always decline. I'm not opposed to the occasional day drink, but for some reason I never make the time to go visit. 

Dishes done, I quietly sip a glass of pinot noir. My girlfriend’s blond hair glows angelic under the soft hue of the track light. I sneak up from behind with a hug. Bob Marley croons in the background and the sun is shining, weather is sweet. We sway, discussing future, purpose and plans.

A few moments pass and a paw scratches my leg. Our dog, Esther, is feeling ignored. I leave kitchen duties behind and take her outside for tennis ball bedlam.

She chases with  intensity and focus, as if this were the last ball, the last jump, the last run.

After fifteen minutes, I slide the saliva soaked ball into my pocket and Esther knowingly trots back towards the house. But I’m headed out to the field and the long shadows.

Esther wheels around, realizes there’s bonus play time, and races to lead the way. The ball business is fun, but unleashed walks are wild. She runs with purpose, nose-to-the-ground, unafraid. Searching…

I sprint to keep up with her. The dry air burns my lungs, but I don’t relent. She occasionally glances up, seeming annoyed at my foolish red face. I stalk her until I eventually collapse, exhausted.

The cool ground comforts my throbbing head. Off in the distance, the elm tree's orange leaves flash like a fireworks charge and our house looks perfect…no lawn needing mowing, no running toilets, no regrets.

A wet tongue licks my arm...Esther's come to check in. She sees I'm OK, takes off again but abruptly stops a few feet away. Falling to the ground, she writhes around as if under a voodoo spell.

She’s rolling in horse shit. I let her.

We're losing light and the shadows are getting longer. 

Walking slowly home, I notice a lamp glowing in my neighbor's house.