Randomness

I don’t really have the drive, desire, or spoons available to write anything at night normally. I always just want to lie down and let my throbbing head throb in the cold and dark of my bedroom. However, a thought occurred to me tonight.

I was watching John Oliver, a episode he did a few weeks back about police reform, and it occurred to me that I used to live in Los Angeles, California. Now when I say I lived in Los Angeles, I don’t mean that I lived in the suburbs, we lived downtown for a couple of years.

I remember the LAPD driving around, handing all of us baseball cards. I’m assuming it was some community outreach thing, or maybe it was just a really nice cop that I just don’t happen to remember seeing constantly. What I do remember, is what was on the back of the baseball cards instead of the statistics that I loved, and still do love, to look at.

What I saw there, was a random police officer, it would give his likes, dislikes, a little like a basic interview format. Nothing important, nothing big.

Except, it kind of was.

Now I’ll be the first one to admit that I could be misremembering this entire thing, but when you are, as I was at the time, five to eight years old, you are highly susceptible to education and propaganda. Your brain is a motherfucking sponge that absorbs information more than life itself. It’s why you start school at that age, it’s why a lot of development happens all at once around that age.

So, I’m sitting here 35 years later realizing that they were handing us baseball cards with the baseball player that we all idolized on one side and an LAPD officer on the other. Now, call me a little jaded my old age, but I have a feeling that we were supposed to associate one with the other.

I may be talking out of my ass here, I understand that, I recognize that.

I remember my favorite baseball player when I was a kid was Eddie Murray. Eddie Murray played first base for the Dodgers and he was my fucking hero. We used to chant his name when we went up to Chavez Ravine to watch the Dodgers play live,and when he did anything, every kid in the goddamn stadium would go insane.

I’m not going to say that I remember the name of the police officer that was on the back of his card, but I remember it was a very tall white guy, and the reason I remember he was very tall, was because he was standing next to his police car, and the roof of it had to have hit him just about at the waist, again childhood embellishment notwithstanding.

So, were the children of the Los Angeles Police Department’s area of influence brainwashed to believe that the hero’s they saw in baseball players should be associated with those who protect and serve?

I am not smart enough to answer this question, I am just the old guy laying in bed with a migraine who had an idea and likes to write in a little blog.

Question everything Gentle Readers, nothing is for free, not even a baseball card.

It Had To Be On Memorial Day, Didn’t It? Goddamn It.

I have what I believe is called a conundrum on my hands today. I had a very specific thing I was going to write about today and yet, as I sit down to write about it it seems callous to write about such a thing on a day set aside to honor the fallen. I will not say I found a way to squash the two together, for I have not, I will instead be honest and say that the honored dead will be honored in my mind and heart every day of the year, today’s event occurs but a singular time a year. It isn’t a fair thing, what I am doing, but I felt the need to express it in some way before I plunge into the myriad of shit that will be what I write about today.

So, today is my dad’s birthday.

I will go ahead and tell you he was born in ’45 in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, a few miles outside of Arnold, California. Family lore says he was born nearly nine months to the day after my grandfather returned from serving in Iran during the Second World War. After the war, and possibly before as I do not know exactly, my grandfather was the ranger for the park and was for at least a decade or so after my father was born. They moved down to Los Angeles sometime in the mid-’50s and, well, that is all the autobiographical shit I am going to include because fuck him is why.

I am not writing about James Nealon the person today, I am drilling a little deeper and talking about James Nealon, the father.

He wasn’t good at it.

That may sound childish in its form, but why not use Occam’s Razor? He was a shitty dad not because of the booze, sadistic wife, PTSD, and his parental issues, but because some people should simply not have children, and he was one of those people. It doesn’t say a lot of good about the potentiality for future generations I know, but if I could have put it another way, you know I would have.

See, dad was in the Army, a Beret in ‘Nam and the whole hero thing. Never once have I spoken ill of his service and I will not now. I cannot fathom the choices and obstacles he had to face on a daily basis and if there are people who are equipped to do it, it is not his pacifist, hippie, crystal loving, oldest son. The Army changed him, as it did so many thousands of people before and since, and it was not for the better. He became, at least according to the stories I would hear from my grandad and grandmother, a harder and different person. I will not speak on the horrors of a thing I have never experienced, I will speak on the horrors I did.

He was terrified a great deal of the time, loud sounds, helicopters, gunfire. Mind you, we lived in the barrio outside of Los Angeles, to say that these were common noises in the area is putting so lightly as to be invisible. When he got scared, he got mad, when he got mad, well, I’ll let you go ahead and draw the rest of that logic branch.

My mother was the downfall of him I think, they were married in ’76, my sister came along in ’78, me in ’80, Andy in ’83. My mother was an evil thing, anger and violence were here bailiwicks and she was so very, very good at them. She would be in the same room as him and you could see him change into her in this terrifying process that involved immense amounts of Jack Daniels and irrational anger at the smallest thing.

There is no point. I know a few of you are looking for it. There isn’t one. Every year I have to say something about him, today it just happens to fall on Memorial Day.

I can tell you that he beat us and abandoned us and knew the darkness that was my mother and did nothing. I can tell you he taught us all how to lie and had this chaotic desire to move every so often that got pretty annoying by the time we go to New York when I was 10.

He died in ’98, on the bed he shared with my mother, weighing less than my Elder Duck does now. He asked me, and I gave, the Last Rites to him the night before. I knew he wasn’t seeing me when he asked, he was talking to someone long dead in a river thousands of miles away from where the apartment in Hamlin, NY was. It was the last thing I did for him. Of all his sins and evils and faults, I sat with him in the middle of the night on a Friday morning and I forgave him the things I could, and I buried the rest so deep I had to get married and have children of my own before I realized how wrong some of his transgressions were.

Again, there is no point in it, all is senselessness and chaos.

Uncle Hippie Bear Wants To Sit You Down For A Second And Have a Little Talk, No, Not That One, Although I Can Totally Make That Happen

When I was a kid, I was super embarrassed about my dad being a McDonald’s manager. I didn’t really know why, but I just was. Kids never really said anything to me about it and when they did it was to see if they could get free shit, which my dad almost always said yes to anyway. It wasn’t bad living. he was making pretty decent money for Southern California in the eighties. We were poor, oh hell yes we were, but that is because we lived in California. Thirty years later I pay less rent for a three-bedroom house than my parents did for a two-bedroom apartment in the cockroach-infested barrios of Los Angeles. If we had lived in other places, but no, that is a game I won’t play. I may not have made my peace with my childhood, but I won’t sit and try to pretend it was anything else but what it was. If I want fantasy I can always listen to my siblings tell me how awesome it was and how much better life was than what I tell people it.

Meh. We all get by the way we can. I stopped arguing with Andy and Mo a long time ago, it is a soul-draining experience to have the people who should love you the most be the first to call you a liar. So I remove myself from the equation and it makes life so much easier.

I tell my life story all the time, so I won’t recount all of it, just a story today for all of those people who want to know why the Bear goes Rawrz.

Three days after my mother died, so the end of February 2005, my sister, my Naomi, and I were sitting in Naomi and I’s apartment mostly sober talking about life and what do do now that Mom was gone and all those questions you need to ask yourself when you lose someone, a horrible foreshadowing to a decade later, and my sister decided to play Mom. No, really. With the exception of chain-smoking three packs a day and having salt-and-pepper hair, she took on the very unneeded and unwanted role of Lynanne. My brother had already wisely gone back to Kansas and thankfully my sister didn’t like sleeping in my place because of loud kid. So when I did see her, which for a week or two after was a fucking lot, she decided that my life choices, ALL of them, needed to examined in minutiae and changed.

Keep in mind, this is before Naomi and I made the Poly decisions we did, the BDSM decisions we did, hell we hadn’t even moved away from Brockport yet. I understood when she asked me to stop smoking, I mean it is pretty much item one of two of what killed my mother. So, in all fairness, I will give her tat one and Naomi and I were successful for a bit before we backslid and picked up the habit again.

That was where reasonable and sane stopped.

We drank too much. Ate too much salt. Raised our kid outside her norm. On and on and on.

Now, no more talk about that, it just allows me to illustrate this point which was hammered home very early this morning and made me smile in my acknowledgment and avoidance of it.

Live your life, my loves. Live your lives and smile and scream the joys of the Universe from your lips like unending supernovae. Explode your happiness into the world and watch as the happiness you spread mixes with the parts of others and a new and wonderful thing is made. Sagan was right in that we are star stuff, but that is but the physicality of the human condition. If you want to go deeper into what can only be called the soul by the more philosophical leaning of those of you out there, you need to look and see what you are putting into the Universe that is effecting others.

I have been negative for a very long time now. While I do apologize for it, it is by showing actions and proof of the change that we truly tell those that we love that we are different than we were before and our energies are directed towards the highest peaks of human emotions and achievements.

A little flavorful for pre-noon on a Saturday on a single cup of coffee perhaps, but it does not a for a second make it less honest in all of its power.

So RAWRZ I say to you now and go the fuck out there and explode your happiness you motherfucking awesome butterfly unicorn narwhal leprechaun kittens.

You Can Do Anything You Want To Prepare, In The End You Are A Microscopic Thing In Comparison To The Titanic Masses Scraping By One Another Miles Below Where You Stand

I want to talk to you about nightmares today. I will not judge the “scale” of the thing because each person has their thoughts of what a dream is. Mine are hyper-specific to dates and times; I can remember everything from the air temperature to the warning signs my lizard brain gave off just before the event in question started in earnest. I have had about three, maybe four, distinct nightmares for the majority of my adult life. They re not in a weird rotation and as far as I know, there is no trigger for one to happen over another.

Now, because the day is new and bright, I am willing to talk about one of these things not just to tell you its story, but to explain why an how I feel about particular matters. I will not be upset by the telling of this, it is merely a part of the woven background of my life, and I have, if not made my peace with it, accepted it as an immutable thing.

Backstory first.

My childhood, up until I was ten years old, was split into two distinct geographical locations. I was born and raised until eight or so in the San Fernando Valley, THE Valley if you understand. It is where the silly voice comes from, where people talk about when they talk about Valley Girls and Surfer Dudes actual houses. I lived all over it. Reseda, Van Nuys, Chatsworth, Canoga Park, Northridge, and so on. The second half of that geographical divide is living in Lancaster, in the High Desert. The Mojave where if you are standing in the right place, you can walk in a straight line, and you can walk to Vegas and not see another sign of human habitation. Well, at least thirty years ago you could.

When you live in the desert, there is very little to keep your mind from wandering as a child. You think about what is over the mountains that virtually surround you and what would happen if “The Big One” struck and you were out in the middle of nowhere.

Here is the dream.

Just because you grew up hearing about and, to a minor extent, experiencing earthquakes does not mean you are not terrified of them down to the fiber of your being. I suppose it is a hard thing to explain, but the way I try to make it apparent is telling people to pretend they are in a boat going up and down in the rough sea, now pretend the waters are the sidewalk you are walking down, and you are the boat. I was only in two decent sized ones, and I was more terrified than I can ever express in written language. The world is pulling itself apart, and you can do NOTHING to make it better. You hope to whatever you hope to that it will stop and you have a house to go home to when it is all over.

It starts with a hiss, I don’t remember if there is a sound, but in the dream there is. I am sitting in bed in the dream, and the world starts to shake, and all I do is scream.

That’s it.

Now, in reality, I am sure this is a monetary thing, but in the dream, I am there for hours and hours screaming and knowing I am going die and be buried and lost forever under the entirety of an apartment complex.

I had that one Friday night. I was tucked into the Bear Cave, the temperature about 55, and I was relaxed after taking my micro-legion of medication and a few extra pills because of a sore back. I don’t know what time I fell asleep, but I woke up at precisely three minutes after two coated in sweat and the yell I think I had in my throat a moment before echoing off the bare walls of my bedroom.

Sleep was, as you can imagine, done for the evening.

I have no idea why I felt the need to tell you this. I very rarely do.

Now you know.

Scorpion

I remember when I was about nine or so, I was sitting in the desert a few hundred feet from my house and I was pretty much staring off into the nothingness of the Mojave. There is a lot of nothing in the high desert in California. Oh don’t get me wrong, there are Joshua trees and cacti, pricker bushes and even the ever stereotypical tumbleweed mostly though there is nothing but miles of uninterrupted views. You can see the mountains in the distance and, if it is the right time of year, snow at the peaks that the desert can only really dream of having, at least in any substantial quantity.

So there I was sitting against one of the thousands of abandoned cars that litter the desert near any housing development, or civilization at all. I looked down, couldn’t tell you why really, and there was a scorpion, maybe the length of my pinkie, just sitting there on my thigh. Not menacing, just getting onto something more refreshing than the oppressively hot sand it spent its entire life trying not to get cooked on. You get used to things crawling on you if you like to sit out in the nothing as I did. Mostly it was things like beetles and scorpions, but occasionally it would be a snake or one of the thousands of rodents that call the desert home.

There was a lot of sun left in the sky, so I just let the scorpion sit there on my leg, and I sat still, the swelling starting to show on my right eye, the views kept getting more and more skewed as it closes a little bit more every minute or so. The copper taste of blood was still in my mouth too, I tried not to worry the hole where the tooth had come out of, the blood would clot soon enough, and I hadn’t brought any water with me to keep washing blood out of my mouth. I had just left, no shoes or shirt, just a pair of ratty jeans and whatever book I saw first on the way out of the door. Mom was really into the Harlequin Romance books then, so it was most likely one of those. I tried to keep things in my bedroom, but she got to me in the garage, and I ran through the living room, so I didn’t have a chance to get anything.

The sky was this blue that you only see if you get very far away from anything Los Angeles related. There was still a horrible smog problem at the time, but out in Lancaster, it was this vibrant blue that seemed almost fake to someone who learned how to say chlorofluorocarbon far too early in life. It made even the starkness of the desert pop, and every thing out there had this almost aura of light around it from the brightness and the heat of the day.

Dad wouldn’t be home for days, he had left for work on Monday, and it was only Wednesday. Tommy had been a little shit to Andy, so I had yelled at him, and that is what got mom roaring towards me in the first place. When she wasn’t completely gone on her anti-depression and anti-anxiety medication, she was a goddamn juggernaut who couldn’t be stopped or reasoned with.

You learned to turn your face just the right way so you wouldn’t get it all in the eye.

I looked down again and saw the little scorpion wandering away to continue its fight for survival and, with a sigh, I decided it was time I got back to mine.