Smoke and Mirrors

In a perfect world . . .

Month: June 2010

French Fries

During my lunch hour today I wanted to drop off a fountain pen for repair.
This meant a walk to Downtown Crossing in the shopping district,
an area swarming with people today due to the warm summer weather.

The Bromfield Pen Shop is a place I have dreams about with all their pens, cool ink and exotic paper.
It’s the only place in Boston to take a sick pen; the patient of the day: a Mont Blanc fountain pen.
As I walked down Washington Street, grilled sausages, onions and red and green peppers assaulted my olfactory senses.
I was hungry and had multiple thoughts of mustard.
Spicy, brown mustard.

I was limited on time so I dropped off the pen and didn’t chance a look at the new inks
that had undoubtedly come in.
I am a big-time sucker for creatively colored inks.
Thank my lucky stars I didn’t have the time to spend money I don’t have on inks I really don’t need.
And ink is sooooo cool.
You have no idea.

I left the pen shop and walked up Bromfield Street when I saw a sign for a tres cool sandwich shop.
I walked in and saw a line longer than the bank on payday.
I would settle for a grilled chicken sandwich from Burger King. (yummy, right?)
I sat down to eat and noticed an older black man panhandling right outside the front door.
This guy was a bit different though.
He wasn’t asking for money, though he did hold a large BK cup in his hand.
I watched through the glass as he mouthed ‘hello’ and ‘have a nice day, now’ to the many people walking by.
He was polite and generally unobtrusive for a needy guy.

And he was needy.

He stood about my height (5’8”) and had on ratty clothes, the overall effect topped off
with a weathered Boston Red Sox hat.
His toothless smile seemed almost innocuous. . . inviting.
You almost wanted to forgive him though he’d done no wrong, if that makes any sense.

As a rule, I don’t give money to street people.
I might offer a piece of fruit or a bottle of water if I have an extra.

I reached into my BK bag and took out an order of French Fries that I hadn’t ordered.
I brought them up to the register and told the woman that waited on me that I hadn’t ordered them. She waved her hand in a ‘no comprende’ way and said ‘keep them’.

I haven’t been eating fries lately and decided my windfall would be a snack for the man outside ‘working the street’.

I ate my lunch and continued to watch this man smile, say hello, give directions and take whatever this unblinking society would give him.
I finished my sandwich and grabbed the bag with the fries (still sufficiently hot) and left.
I walked up and handed him the bag and said, “Here, eat these. You do eat fries, don’t ya’?”

You would have thought I’d just given him a winning lottery ticket.

He smiled and said, “Bless you, my brother. Bless your heart.”

I walked across Tremont Street and through a warm, sunny Boston Common back to work,
oddly happy to have been sincerely blessed.


I am (II)

I am: in transition and wondering about my future
I think: the world went to hell in a hand basket . . .
I know: I miss writing
I want: new teeth
I have: questions, too many
I wish: I could find some answers
I hate: goodbyes and temporary crowns
I miss: the old me
I fear: insomnia and more root canals
I feel: like I’m on the verge of something, maybe good, maybe bad
I hear: a fan cooling my sweating cueball head (I shaved this  morning)
I smell: a lit cigar
I crave: being 8 years old again running through my neighborhood
I search: for signs of my Mom and Dad everyday
I wonder: about my new neighbor next door and the fact that he wants to swindle me (NOT)
I regret: not finishing college and working retail. I’m so much better than that
I ache: for calm, for indigo breezes and purple sunsets
I care: about the future of my three wonderful girls (I am: so lucky)
I always: look before crossing  Boylston Street
I am not: perfect
I believe: in dreams
I dance: when I’ve had too much Maker’s Mark
I sing: because I can
I cry: more often than I believe I should
I don’t always: look before crossing Boylston Street
I fight: to stay alive
I write: because I can’t afford therapy
I never: wanted to be President
I stole: my wife’s heart
I listen: to things no one else seems to hear
I need: a creative kick in the ass and to play my didgeridoo more
I am happy about: my dear friends from Australia that will be here in less than 3 weeks.

Just updating my life status is all.
This post may turn out to be a monthly occurrence.
Tanks for the nudge, M



*a repost from a time I can’t seem to forget

This morning, the highway was filled with a multitude of disembodied headlights, each one searching through a seemingly inexhaustible mist, an optical illusion a bit tough to handle at 6AM when you’re still sleeping.
I made it onto the train and stared out the window at the relentless sheets of rain.
The dark and rainy skies made me think of a night many years ago when I went to my parent’s house after a slew of frantic phone calls from my mother.
She would freak out on a fairly regular basis back then.
At the time, she was in the late beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and I was still in total denial.
I pulled into the driveway and saw her silhouette standing in the open doorway.
I remember thinking she looked peaceful standing there
and not the frantic woman I’d just spoken to on the phone.

I called her name.


No response.
As I walked up the stairs, I could see her staring off into the distance, detached and trance-like.
I stood next to her to try and see what she was looking at when she said,
“Look. There’s million’s of them.”

“Millions of what, Mom?” I asked.

“Stars,” she said, “Can’t you see them?”

In the front yard there was an old oak tree, the leaves still dripping from the heavy rain.
Behind the oak, I could see the front porch light from the Jacobson’s house
up on the hill illuminating the thousands of falling raindrops.
Stars, I thought, it’s raining stars.
I took off my glasses to see the world, if only for a moment, through my mother’s eyes.
A simple oak tree was being transformed into an impressionistic masterpiece right in front of me, thanks to a few misfiring neurons located somewhere in my mother’s brain.

“It’s beautiful, Mom.” I said.

“Yes. It is…” She replied.

I didn’t realize it at the time but the raindrops falling from the tree closely echoed the neurological avenue my mother was currently traveling down.
The drops of rain falling and disappearing into the waiting earth were so much like her failing memory,
a collection of antiquated shooting stars ultimately destined to crash and burn, their celestial beauty gone all too soon.
As we stood silently on the porch, an internal cog clicked inside me.
It was a frightening moment of absolute realization.
My phase of denial had finally come to an end.


Strange days are these (updated)

As uncomfortable as this picture makes me feel
THIS makes me feel even more uncomfortable.
And it gets more uncomfortable as the days grow long reading about people
that think they deserve equality and justice.
Will we ever wake up and smell the coffee?
When will we finally call a spade a spade?
From the leviathan Gulf oil spill and Mexican border breaches to the ever-simmering clusterfuck in the Middle East,
I feel doomed somedays, for so many reasons.
Just like today.
Maybe we just haven’t found the answers . . .
Got testicles?


***I changed the post picture for the mental stability of my wife

Without Dad

It amazes me the distance that disease can create between people and families.
Alzheimer’s takes everything you once knew about someone and throws it in a closet,
locking the door, throwing away the key.
This Father’s Day is the first without my Dad and I’m trying to sort out my innermost feelings.
I will go to the cemetery tomorrow morning with a coffee in one hand and a cigar in the other
and try to remember the man I once called ‘Dad’.
I miss him. I truly do.
Not as he was in the past 6-8 years but in the days when I could tell him a joke and
he would laugh; when I could go to the fridge and ask him if he wanted a beer; when I could say, “Hi, Dad,”
on the phone and he knew it was me replying, “Want your mother?”
I will be with him tomorrow as he will be with me.

This Father’s Day will feel a bit empty, strange and maybe a bit of a relief that
I don’t have to see his withering body sucking on pureed food through a straw.
Tomorrow I will see him as the guy that never missed one damn baseball game of mine,
always called me ‘Michael’ not ‘Mike’, a man that taught me how to throw a baseball and pass a football,
a man that never ever let me down, a man that taught me what it means to be a man.
I still miss him dearly but tomorrow I will begin re-building in my mind the complete memory
of a longstanding hero of mine.
If I die being half the man that he was, I will be truly blessed.
Make time to visit or call your Dad today.
Happy Father’s Day to all.
Love you, Dad.


The Bridge

It used to be so easy years ago – this blogging thing.
Most people know this blog was my own personal bridge to an understanding of a disease that
has all but consumed the better part of the last 12 years of my life.
Writing used to be so easy, life was the hard part.
Now everything has changed.
The bridge is permanently closed and my journals have been painfully empty.
Empty can be a real painful place for a writer.
I write every day but much of what I write now is too personal and heavy for blog posts.
Many will say that the bridge never closes but for me, this one has.
My reasons for needing it in my life have changed.
I have changed.
My mind is currently like a dark grey and forbidding sky that appears to be swiftly moving yet
still appears the same.
Enigmatic, much like my grey matter.
I need to find a way to connect with my insides again.
The entrance was emotionally sutured in late March of this year.
So where do I go from here?
I’m really trying to find my way back in.
Or out.
Sorry for my absence, if you missed me.
I’m hoping you have.
I’m praying for a light to go on any day now.
And I’m thinking I’ll be alright.
But time will tell . . .


Walking Away

Taking an unexpected break folks.
Not entirely sure why but I’m not writing much and reading even less these days.
Not a good combination.
This boy needs to rediscover his priorities.
When I have nothing to say, blogging is meaningless.
As a writer, you can only post so many videos before you admit you’re only
appeasing your internal editor.
(who thinks you suck)
Back soon.


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