Friday, November 28, 2008

Entry 2011 'The Hurt Gets Worse, and the Heart Gets Harder....'

(As you can see by the Entry number, this is an earlier posting that was written some time ago, but has had some updating since then...and therefore hasn't been published yet. Remember, the DATES here indicate "posted order"...the entries can be in ANY order...and, often are.

Some random but occasionally cohesive thoughts on what "dating" has become for me, these days (late 2004--Editor). I am sitting outside a Starbucks in Tucson, AZ today...engaged in some reflection.

While in the past I needed very little help meeting and, uh, spending "private quality time" with pretty much anyone I wanted [hey, 18 for 18, remember? If not...well, I'll tell you about all that someday ;) ], these days, with Internet's...different.

It certainly has taken--and will take--some adjustment.

An example: I don't believe in playing games...when I want to do something, I do it.

The rule might be, "wait a couple of days after the first date to call"...well, I might want to talk to this person now, so why would I wait? That "rule" just seems stupid and counterproductive to me.

And, my honesty has often caused me problems, because while I can be aloof and casual about things [it's not hard, I've learned how], it's not something I would choose to do. 

I'm often fearful that it will be taken the wrong way. I mean, it's treating people the way you would want to be treated...if I am talking to someone and they act that way, aloof casual and disinterested, I just figure they'd just as soon not be bothered.

Many times I will send off emails as a "hello" to people on dating sites, to try and spark up a conversation...but it seems like it's a sort of black hole, most just don't respond [do they even RECEIVE these emails?].

There are some that do, though...and we have our "introduction dance", which is like something out of "Wild Kingdom" between birds or other creatures. We say things to each other, ask certain questions....

Perhaps my emails are more than one or two short paragraphs...perhaps they're more well-thought-out than others that are sent. While not paragraphs of questions or pages of writing [which of course I understand is too much], I clearly haven't mastered the art of the "internet dating email". And, they must seem like poison.

Because...soon there are no more responses.

My stance, my approach, is as if to come out of my cave and kind of make some sort of pronouncement, like "You're attractive" or "I like your style" or "We seem to think alike" as an opening statement, which I consider to be an honest, no-nonsense way to relate to someone. Then there are sounds not unlike crickets chirping....and silence.

So I go back into the cave where it is cold and dark and beat myself up for being such an idiot...and "How could I be so stupid?" and "Why do I even keep trying?"...and I feel the heartache down into my fingertips, the aching, the sadness and the loneliness....

And every day that I make these attempts at communication--and fail to see a result--this goes on and on. I really don't know why I haven't given up long long ago. Why I even persist.

The title of this Entry is from the late and sadly departed Warren Zevon, and his song "Accidentally Like A Martyr"....the chorus has these lyrics:

"We made mad love, shadow love,
Random love and abandoned love,
Accidentally like a martyr...
The hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder."

Were things to have gone the way they were supposed to, the way I have believed that they were DESTINED to, twice--both long ago and not-so-long ago...well....

Well, there would be no online dating now...or, dating of any kind. There would be no need for ANY of that. Just a nice happy relationship...which, despite the 18-for-18, is all I have ever wanted.

All of which just proves to me, everything does NOT happen for a reason. Some things just...happen. if to prove Newton's Third Law of Physics ["For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction"]....

...Some things just...don't.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Entry 3570 My Au Revoir to Smoking

As I have been reconnecting with old friends, several questions have arisen...and stories have been told that answer those questions. It has occurred to me that, rather than tell the same story several (or more) times, I should just tell the stories "on here". So, that is what I will do...starting with the story of how I was able to successfully quit smoking.

I started the dirty habit in 1980 when a friend bought a pack of Merit cigarettes at a bar and was clowning around with them. Since we were drinking it seemed natural so I smoked a few, and at the end of the night he gave them to me. The next day when I awoke I saw the Merits, and you know the old expression--smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. Well, I started then and I did, for 18 years.

In 1991 when I started traveling for my first route sales job it was a tough habit to get rid of, not that I wanted to in those days anyway. There was mile after mile of driving, sometimes for hours...and you soon learn that smoking can be an appetite suppressant, which means you stop a lot less. It also helps to lessen the monotony.

In the course of various route sales jobs I've spent significant time traveling alongside the Colorado River...for those that don't know, the Colorado separates Arizona from both Nevada (to the north) and California (a little farther south). It is a brilliant jade tell of my affection for the Colorado River is to create another entry altogether, and is therefore for another time.

To continue...while traveling I would usually have business in Bullhead City, AZ, and I would stay just across that great river at the Edgewater Hotel and Casino in Laughlin, NV. As is true in pretty much ANY major Nevada casino, gambling is featured, and great hotel rooms can be had cheaply and huge food buffets are the norm. They want you to stay as long as possible, and, cheap but good eats and comfortable accommodations are attractive options for travelers.

Well, late one night toward the end of August 1998 I was playing Blackjack and had run out of cigarettes. Now, the drinks are always free as long as you are at a table and gambling, and in past days the waitresses would also get you free cigarettes...the casinos don't want you to interrupt the vacuuming-out of your wallet and bank account (read: gambling) so you can go to get those things. PLUS...drinking impairs your decision-making capabilities, and some say cigarettes enhance that impaired-ness. But, I guess as the amount of non-smokers has grown and costs have risen, that free cigarette service has gone away.

Anyway...I ran out of cigarettes. And, after a little while, I also ran out of least, what I wanted to spend. It was late, about 3 I decided I would get a pack on the way to my room, which was on the 17th floor. There was a 24 hour convenience store just off the casino floor that was nearby to the elevator...which turned out to be, as it happened, a twenty-THREE hour convenience store--because, that's right, as I was going back to the room they were closed for a lunch break--"Closed until 3:45 am," actually.

I wasn't coming back down 17 floors after waiting 45 minutes just for that. So, no cigarettes. Plus, I was likely just going right to bed when I got upstairs...I wasn't going to smoke any more that night anyway.

I had been wanting to's kind of hard to smoke here in the desert southwest when the temperature gets hot, because the air is already really hot, and the idea of inhaling more hot gases (that also just so happen to be toxic) into one's lungs was losing its appeal...and I had gotten it down to smoking just at night, when I would have a few drinks and "think about the day's events." When I awoke I knew that I wouldn't be lighting up, and wouldn't miss smoking until later on that evening when I would have my traditional two or three evening cocktails.

I awoke and began my day as expected. One of my stops that day was just south of Laughlin, near Fort Mohave, was a convenience store owned and operated by the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT). Indian stores like this are very popular places to buy cigarettes and tobacco products, because the reservations are exempt from many federal and state regulations and taxes, and are thusly able to sell tobacco products for much less. However, the federal government had passed a bill bringing a huge tax increase to cigarettes and all tobacco products, adding on at least $1.10 to each pack, starting September 1. The reservation stores weren't going to be exempt from this one.

Today was September 1.

I get to the store and there are many Lincoln Continentals and Cadillacs and Buicks with license plates from Nevada and California and of course Arizona in the parking lot. In those days cellphone use was rare--instead, there's a line on the side of the building outside by the pay phone that was made up of older retired gentlemen waiting to use it.

They're all there to buy cartons of cigarettes, brand name ones, too...they've showed up with around $200 in cash, expecting to purchase 10 cartons at about $20 a carton...only now, they're like $35-45 a carton...what to do? So...they're each waiting their turn to call home and check with their wives as to what to do. Should they get the same brand? A cheaper one?

I was very amused. I laughed hard.

There was a large Colorado River Indian man named Warren that worked inside. "Sorry, but I think this is all hilarious. I know it hurts your business, so please don't be offended", I told him. "They've only been talking about raising the tax on tobacco for months now."

Warren's response was that the store--and the CRIT--would still do okay. If anything, they would sell even MORE cigarettes, as the off-brands used lesser quality tobacco and more filler, so one of those cigarettes would be less satisfying than a name-brand one. This meant more cigarettes for the same smoking experience.

"People can't quit...or don't want to. That'll keep us selling them no matter how much they are", he said.

I laughed again and said it was enough for me.

"I just quit!", I told him.

Any time after that, when I would get the urge to have one, I would remember how the moments were structured such that I was able to quit, and then given good reason to do so.

"Well, James," you say, "what about cigars? Haven't you mentioned here that you like a good cigar, and a strong 7&7, when you write?"

Cigars are a whole 'nother story, my friend. It's not the same. Since 1977, before I smoked anything else, I've enjoyed cigars. And, although there are still some health risks, I probably always will.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Entry 3557 The Re-Emergence of Old Friends, The Tying-Up of Loose Ends

I have become convinced that my own demise is imminent.

Don't be shocked, the several of you that read my words regularly. Don't notify the police, or call the Suicide Hotline.

What I mean is...old friends that I haven't heard from in years are re-appearing. And, I am making peace with the Past. Not that I've turned over the proverbial New Leaf, and stopped being a recluse...I didn't know where they were or how to get in touch with them. And the Past? Don Henley says, in "The Heart of the Matter", "you keep carrying around that anger, it'll eat you up inside." Not wishing to BE eaten up inside, I realized, shall I say, it was better to make peace with the Past than continue to hide or run away from it, or deny it. Perhaps, in a Greater Power sort of way, that is why this is happening, these old friends reappearing.

First...after 16 months and against my wishes, my ex-fiance MJT sent me a text message. Why, against my wishes? Mostly, because she has her own life, her new family...and I have mine. I wasn't sure of her intentions...and anyone who's been a close part of my life for at least the last five years knows how that's often been a problem with her.

So...what to do? Well, after careful consideration and against the advice of nearly everyone, I decided to text her back. And...since then it has for the most part been pleasant. We mostly talk about computers and tech stuff...which is what we always had in common anyway. So, it's good. I say, for the most part...because there are times when I realize why we aren't together any more. Also...there are often traps...which I am very careful to avoid.

And, if I had made peace with the second-most important relationship I've fitting that I should also have the chance to make peace with the most important one. She is discussed way at the start, in The Introduction, May 2004...and also in Entry 2035, June 2005. This re-connection begins thusly: suddenly, one day, there was an email...from the person I knew as CW. I've stayed in touch with her Dad for all of these 24 years...and now I am back in contact with her. Again, she has her own life...and I have mine. There is a lot of pain there, still. But it is great to share memories and old stories again (even from 2400 miles away)...and there are things to tell her that no one else would understand...because of occurrences that only she was part of, 24 years ago.

There are no words to describe how huge this is, our re-establishment of contact. No matter what else happens, a gaping giant chasm that was in my life has been filled. One of my very best friends and one of the very best people I have ever known is part of my life again.

It isn't just about relationships either...two other old friends that I've been wondering about have re-emerged from the Mists of the Past (or...insert your own overused cliche here). One of these was a Conductor on the Former Party Train (it used to be called the Drunk Train...but times change, you know)...and PE is back (although of course she would say she never went away) ;). This is one of the few people who can make me quite literally laugh out loud...I've really missed contact with her. While most of our "adventures" actually occurred before then, she was a very large part of that period in Summer 1984 that I've since named The Best of Times, The Worst of Times (with all due apologies to Charles Dickens)...and someday the account of those months will be written about here.

I can't say much about my other long-lost friend, yet...he just send me a message on FaceBook saying he saw me on there. He's a friend from high school days, who had moved here from Ireland. Yes...that Ireland. I lost touch actually while still in high school, as due to his outside-of-the-US education he had different courses than me. But...yet another person who was missing and back.

So...I guess I should be happy and just accept that these missing friends are finding me again.

AHA! BUT...You People (wherever you are), that Control These can't fool me. I know this is just so I can make peace with this World and tie up these loose ends before I am on to Someplace Else. Someplace, that is said, is Another World, another Plane of Existence...and is therefore much better. Phoenix...or, Los Angeles. =)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Entry 3540 'Some Place Special'

Randy Newman loves it.

And, after a long period where I was kind of on the fence about it...I guess I do, too.

Yes...I'm talking about El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula, so named in 1741 by 44 setters, who founded the place.

See, in 1979, I was there. It was generation grew up with it all over television..."The Tonight Show", "Beverly Hillbillies", way too many more to name. In the late 60s, it was the birthplace of the Southern California Sound. In the 50s, it was Surf Music...Jan and Dean, Beach Boys, etc.

I was there again, in March/April 2007, for three weeks. I loved it. I was staying in Ontario, which is pretty far east. Still, in the course of my work I was just about everyplace.

Recently, I was part of my close friend Thom's wedding...which was there. And, again, for four days, I loved was great. When I was there in 2007 I said I would live there someday.

Still don't get it? L A...Los Angeles. That long thing before? That's the OFFICIAL name of it. Fact.

A little-known fact is...I actually wanted to move THERE, instead of Arizona...after my visit in 1979. But, I got talked out of it, partially because my family had friends that Tucson. In retrospect, i rarely ever saw those people. And, my good friend Bill, from college, also lived there, in Tucson...well, better off not even starting to talk about that. Again...another story, another time.

I heard some great music there, in L A...from a great radio station. Just like in 1992, when I heard KZON in Phoenix (when it was legendary)...soon afterwards, I was living there. Not just for that reason...but that cemented it for me, was the final thing that helped to tip the scales. See, I HATE broadcast radio (but not satellite sounds pretty good, just haven't heard enough of it). So, finding broadcast radio that I, that's something.

You can hear it too...with this link: The Sound 100.3 Los Angeles.

So...I'm thinking seriously about it.

Yes...yes, I am.