Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Clonazepam and zombies

Kaka drawing. "The Thinker," 1913
5 a.m. Coffee black, no riff raff as I sit in the kitchen, hands in detatched-like motion. I’m wearing a bathrobe, black T-shirt, socks and plaid lounge pants. I guess I could live in lounge pants and drink beer all day if I weren’t so wired with chaotic motivation.

Soon I’m in my car. The radio in my mind starts signaling premonitions of perdition at the worksite. I’m contemplating creation, worrying over what I’ll invent today. What if I endure the stress of achieving something and risk losing my grounding under onrushing vanity? “God, please don’t let me get past myself.”

What would I do without a job to bring needed balance and a sort of terrorism to my life? There’s a moment when I die a little after entering the parking lot across the street from the old building I work in. It’s said to be haunted, as unaccounted for slamming and voices coming from the attic have been reported late at night by employees burning the midnight oil.

Ignition still running, heat on, I pray in a desperate voice much like Jimmy Stewart did in that scene at the bar in It’s a Wonderful Life. “Please God, you know I can’t let anyone down.”

P/C Production capacity

I'm the only one in my department, the others taking time off and it all rests on me.  Veronica sits at her desk near mine but she’s of a different department. I play a YouTube video of a horrible song. I’d heard about 30 seconds of on NPR’s Marketplace as I turned left on Fifth Avenue.

“Let’s get physical, physical.” Veronica laughs and unable to take it anymore, I delete the whole thing. It was gross, all those men in the plastic looking gym, their junk hanging out for all to see.

I look at lists, jot tasks on pink Sticky notes, check email, charge my Android phone, study designs.

Sometimes when I feel lots of pressure, I recite the Gettysburg Address: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing…”

And sometimes I sing. Loudly and bad on purpose.

“Umm, have you ever heard Meatloaf’s 1977 album, Bat Out of Hell?” I ask Veronica, thinking maybe she hasn’t because she’s young. In her early 30s, I’d guess.

“Of course,” she says.


“Perhaps others heard me,” I say.

“We heard you way over here,” Erika in graphic design says jovially.

“When I die,” I say, “they can play this song at my funeral.”

Piano keys. Later I beat my hands lightly against the desk as the song plays quietly. Sing a few words. “You Cath-o-lic girls start much too late…You got a brand new soul, mmm, and a cross of gold.”

Pope Francis is in the news as he often is. (Mom told me when she was a kid, J. Edgar Hoover was always in the newspaper.) Veronica tells me she’s Catholic, but not a practicing Catholic.

“Neat,” I say. “Lots of history in the Catholic Church.”

“Lots of shit in the Catholic Church,” she says.

Then I get lost in work, feeling thrills and agony, not losing myself. I’m told I have grace and good customer relations.

Zombie show

I think what a good thing it was that I took my medication this morning. Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine, a psychoactive class of drugs with amnestic, sedative and hypnotic qualities. It is not Xanax, but is of the Xanax family. One thing I really like is how Clonazepam was mentioned in that zombie show, The Walking Dead. I watch it Sunday nights with Maria and her family, much like we used to gather to watch Breaking Bad.

Sometimes when driving home to Maria, Max and Gabby, the song pops into my head. “..cuz all I want to do is cash my check and drive right home to you,” the theme song to the early ‘00s sitcom, King of Queens, as sung by Billy Vera, a working musician since the ‘60s who also had a hit in the ‘80s with “At this Moment” from the sitcom Family Ties, as regarded the romance between Alex and Ellen before Tracy Pollan was replaced with the wooden Courtney Cox, one of many jump the shark plot lines to befall the NBC comedy, which aired Thursday nights following The Cosby Show.

Back home and I focus as my son, Max, tells me about the report he did on the pyramids.

“The Egyptian pyramids were bigger than the Mesoamerican pyramids,” he says. “The Pyramid of the Sun is on the Street of the Dead in Mexico. The Aztecs started building it in around 100 AD. They think it was a temple for some god, but it’s a mystery.”

It could set the mind reeling.

Bill Murray, 1982. First Letterman appearance. "The new Newton John thing."

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

(7:45 a.m.)

Still dark here in the living room as I sit here, sipping coffee. It's my favorite mug, the one with pictures of my two kids on it. Christmas tree is resplendent - blue, green, red, golden lights. I heard my kids, Max and Gabby, get up this morning, stirring around.

"Guys, we'll wait 'till Mom gets up to open gifts."

"We know that," they say.

"Let's not wait Mom up because she was up late last night, wrapping gifts and making cheesecake."

Kids are getting older. Max turned 13 in September. They can wait. Heck, I think I hear Max in his room, communicating with friends on Minecraft right now. Gabby sat on the floor, looking at the tree and presents for a long time, but now she's probably reading a book. She always puts on her glasses & looks a bit like the librarian her mother once was when she reads.


Gifts open now. Maria making homemade waffles.

My friend, Joy, is a psychologist and she likes to bake. She has all kinds of helpful hints for managing holiday season stress. Kids are overstimulated this time of year, she says, and thinking back to the highs I got as a child, I believe it. "It's okay to feel sad," she told me. "This time of year tends to inspire a lot of self-reflection and sometimes that can take you to a dark place."

For me, it was somewhere around November 2011. My old journalism instructor and adviser Les Anderson had recently died. He was kind of like a dad to us all. Definitely our best friend. Sadness swiftly altered into a temporary high as I saw friends I hadn't been with in a while, felt a rage of nostalgia and got lost in the intoxication of my own creativity - I had improved remarkably in 20 years. (Possibly.) Then euphoria alchemized into what seemed a dark irreversible hell. The concrete basement of our old house was said to be haunted, as was my own personal library - the room where my son said he had seen a mysterious character he named "Plaid-pants man" materialize and diminish with the atoms.

I'm sure Ebenezer Scrooge felt a wave of depression as the Ghost of Christmas Past took him to all those scenes where he effed up in life. Anyone would. I can just see him, knowing what's going to happen, saying, "No don't go there" and when it's over - "You're stupid! Couldn't you see? It was right in front of your eyes all the time."

I'd say I'm cautiously happy right now. Moderately all right may be a better description. Sure I was pissed when my drama queen of a daughter complained about standing in the "cold," ringing bells for the Salvation Army. "Go in with Mom and go shopping then," I said. Later, Maria and I both talked to the kids about how it wouldn't hurt them to think about people less fortunate and give some to others

But I'm happy with Max and Gabby this morning. They were appreciative of all their Christmas presents even though, to me, the presents under the tree didn't look too plentiful. I've actually been in living rooms on Christmas Day, seen kids get a shitload of presents and when they asked if there were more and told that was it, they exclaimed, "Darn!"

When I was ringing the bell outside Walmart, a fellow came up to me. "How much do you get paid for this?" he asked.

"I don't."

"You mean you volunteer for this?" he said, disbelief all over his face and up and down his light voice.

He shook my hand. Firmly.

"You're a rich man," he said.

I'll be damned. Imagine that. Me, J.Guy - a rich man?

I heard singer/songwriter Nick Lowe interviewed on Fresh Air with Teri Gross a couple of nights ago as I drove the dark highway. He wrote this song for a Christmas album he recently recorded and I really liked it. It's the kind of song Johnny Cash would've done.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

Somewhere this moment in the big sanctuary of a Big Church, my wife, kids & in-laws are are at a candle light service celebrating the Dear Savior's birth. I couldn't join them because some new developments in my job kept me working longer than I had anticipated. This work involved a twenty-something man who stabbed another twenty-something man to death. The fight had to do with some kind of romantic entanglement and I don't know specific details. The District Attorney said he's filed more cases this year than in all his 16 years as a prosecutor. "Merry Christmas," he said.

Jukebox played Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher," followed by Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World." I view this song by Satchmo as appropriate for Christmas. It's full of hope for a --

better world. My favorite line is about the babies. "They'll learn much more than I'll ever know." I've always found it interesting how this song was released the same year Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" came out. Both sides of a world in perpetual motion.

Then U2's version of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). Nobody will ever top Darlene Love, but this is good and don't we need all the good things we can get? Like a short, aglow Christmas tree inside a lonely window. If it's there, I think the lights are like hope and hope can exist in tiny windows, just as it can in the church. I picture my family now with the glorious display - "Carol of the Bells" playing. I think of the lit up sacks lining the driveways of the Ridgewood District tonight in my hometown, Jett, Kan. (pop. 4,000) in the early '70s.

In those days, my family had celebrated on Christmas Eve night at my grandma Mac's house. Then we would open presents at home on Christmas morning. They say every family has Christmas traditions (at least those in America who celebrate Christmas) and this was ours. Anyhow, at Grandma & Grandpa's house, it became a tradition every year to take a picture of the kids (siblings, cousins) sitting around the Christmas tree. This started around Christmas, 1974. I always thought it was neat how the grandparents always had a real life Christmas tree. My family had a fake one, but then the old people were always more rustic. No air conditioning, clothes hung on a clothes line (in the garage during winter).

Lately, my mom has been thinking her mother is still alive and I don't correct her. "She's not doing so well," she says, concern in her voice. "Grandma - she's doing great," I say. "She's quite healthy. Back to her effervescent self." "Really," Mom says, smiling as if she's relieved. "I'm happy to hear that."

I told the nursing director at the facility where Mom lives that the old guy with the whitish gray beard who came to see her was most likely her brother, just like she told them.

Sitting here at Leroy's, the dive bar near the Chinese laundry, frat houses and public radio station in the district outside Wichita State University. Shocker game last night was too much for some people like myself, prone to anxiety - 80-79 in overtime. I was at home. Made it there around 8 p.m. Watched the Heat Miser from the 1974 Christmas special, The Year Without a Santa Claus. "Dad loves this stuff," my wife, Maria, told our daughter Gabby. Max, our son, was in his room, playing Mario Party.

There's a small Christmas tree in the window of Leroy's, underneath the ancient neon Schlitz sign. Lights give me hope, make me think of seeing my family and whatever is out there for the world.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Parody Letter 2014

(Later on, we'll perspire as we dream by the fire.)                   Dec. 20, 2014

Dear _______,

Ho! Ho! Ho! I'm Santa Claus & I better not have seen your name on the naughty list this year. Okay, it's not really Santa Claus, it's me, J. Guy. Sorry I tricked you, but I get so full of Christmas spirit this time of year & this year, we're going to have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby danced with Danny Kaye. Please be good children, have sweet dreams of sugar plums & toy soldiers & always remember what my mother told me when I was a little boy, 8-years-old: "If you don't straighten up, you're gonna get reindeer shit in your stocking."

Oh my, and what music am I listening to now? "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from the Nutcracker Suite. Little ballerina pas de deux of the sugar plum fairy who came and hit the streets looking for soul food and a place to eat. My favorite part is Tchaikovsky's line about "all the colored girls go doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo."

It's been a busy year, having reached the milestone of my 200th blog and working as a foreign correspondent covering the "situation" in Syria for which I won the Holbrook-Grayson Award for Excellence in Investigative Journalism. Unfortunately, I had to cancel my appearance on Fresh Air with Teri Gross, but I talked to Teri about it at Pope Francis's mission, backstage at the Patti Smith concert. Teri and I are good.

The Guy family hung out with our friend, Kirk Cameron at the Duggar Family wedding. It was so beautiful the way Ben and Jessica reserved their first kiss for the altar. Cockadoodie on all those dirty bird liberals who said the picture looked like "Christian porn." What did JimBob mean when he said he shot a quiverfull inside Michelle's clown car?

Our son, Max, is thriving as a Boy Scout, diligently working to earn merit badges and helping little old ladies across the street. Also, he's quite adept at killing Nazis, while playing Call of Duty. He is now employed as a paper boy, for which he is earning rave reviews. While spending a bit of his paycheck on games, the bulk of it, he puts away in the bank "for college" as he aspires to develop video games, much like the pot smokers from the brilliant film comedy, Grandma's Boy.

Gabby, our strong-willed little girl, begs us to visit our Humanitarian/Filmmaker friends in California, the Kennys, so we can go to Disneyland again. Gabby has mild asthma and during one nighttime attack said, "I'm Big Wheezy." Her new nickname - Big Wheezy, which would be a good name, should she ever embark on a career with the Mafia. Gabby keeps little drawings and stories in book she wrote entitled, "crap i made." Also, Gabby has learned how to pick the door lock when her mom is on the toilet.

And speaking of her mom, my lovely wife, Maria, got enraged a bit while Christmas shopping at JCPenney. A woman with a "smoker's face" cut her off in line with her shopping cart and Marie got more irate than a Tea Partier staring at a black baby Jesus. Sitting behind the wheel of our family Santa Fe, Maria waited. The woman exited the front door. "YOU OLD BITCH!!" Maria shouted and sped off. I was mortified. "Would Santa Claus do that?" I asked. I do hope the YouTube video doesn't ruin Maria's chances of being appointed to a vacant seat on city council.

Earlier this year while the children were on spring break, we took a family vacation to Philadelphia and visited Maria's cousins - the twins, Dennis and DeAndra. They own a lovely Irish establishment called Paddy's Pub. There was a water stain image of the Virgin Mary and a woman known as "The Waitress."

Maria & me

And in other family news, there is Maria's uncle Bart. You see, Uncle Bart weighs around 375 pounds and his prodigious buttocks have left severe indentations on couches & recliners, some of which have broken under the weight of his corpulence. Anyhow, he'd pass these gross old man farts & we'd always laugh about the long trail these bursts of intestinal gas had to travel to exit the sphincter feature of his body. But it's not funny anymore. Uncle Bart had a disease of the colon this year and since your colon is related to farting, one musn't laugh. Uncle Bart had Hirschsprung Disease, a condition of blockage in which the nerves needed to allow passage of bowel contents are missing. We were afraid Uncle Bart would die like that guy in the episode of The Sopranos, who had a heart attack while sitting on the crapper of the Bada Bing Club. The good news is Uncle Bart is doing much better since the surgery. He endured insensitive fat shaming from his doctor, but he is on a gluten free diet now, which can majorly decrease the odor and frequency of one's intestinal gasses.

Also in the family, Maria's grandpa's cousin died, much like a drowning rat would if it fell into an uncovered bat of Christmas pudding sauce.

Mom, Max, me, Gabby

Peace, joy & remember I Am America and so can YOU

J. Guy

P.S. I remember Christmas as a little child circa 1972 watching a children's TV Christmas special about the little drummer boy. It was nice and he bore a resemblance to Damien, the demon child from The Omen.

Well, it had to happen sometime. Our good friend Dave Letterman is retiring & Darlene Love's annual performances of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" on the Letterman show will be a thing of the past. Here's a good place to end it. Thank you, Dave, Darlene, Paul & everybody.

The American Way of Dying

                                              "Vehicle" -- The Ides of March My Nissan sitting in the parking lot of Fairview...