Friday, November 27, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Attention middle aged men! Read how to get lucky when your wife is away!

I got lucky yesterday! Don’t tell Lori, she was out running errands at the time, and if she finds out there will be hell to pay! I was a little nervous at first, I didn’t want to get caught but I just decided to go for it. I’m 49, not getting any younger, and this could be the last chance. So after Lori left, I went out to the shed, grabbed the ladder, and proceeded to clean the gutters.

I’ve been cleaning my gutters since living in this house until a couple years ago, that is, after the renovation. Before the renovation I could reach all the gutters with my extension ladder. Now, with the second floor addition there is a set of gutters that runs the back length of the house that are about 20 feet off the ground. I can still get to the lower gutters, but the only way to get to the higher gutters is with an extension ladder longer than I have, or, climb up on the roof.

When I was a kid I would sometimes climb out my bedroom window onto the lower roof over our family room. From there I could stand up and lift myself onto the main roof. I didn’t do it a lot, but did it some. It was easy and a little thrilling. In college we’d climb up on the roof of our frat house. It was easy to get to and the roof had a low slope. It was probably more dangerous than we thought, but we didn’t care. There was a great view from there. In grad school I helped a friend, who was renovating a house, put on a new roof. That was hard work, but kind of fun in that I realized this wasn’t going to be my career. Roofers: Hats off to you. That is hard work!

The point of that last paragraph is to say: I have roof experience. But I don't have recent roof experience. And I’ve never actually been on my current roof. Since the renovation I’ve gladly paid someone else to get way up on the top of our newer and higher roof to clear the gutters of our prodigious leaf fall. Typically they get up on the lower, porch, roof with one ladder, and then get up onto the main roof with a second ladder straddled over the lower peak of the porch roof. From there, with a rake or leaf blower, the job is easy. One year my next door neighbor Jon climbed up on the roof and did the job for me.

So how hard could it be? I have my extension ladder, and I have a six-foot folding stepladder for the second flight. I got everything ready: Extension ladder, second ladder and leaf blower (borrowed from same neighbor Jon), and climb up onto the first roof. I step off the ladder and onto the asphalt shingles and instantly realize this was a mistake. I have the wrong shoes on. I thought old running shoes would be soft and pliable and grippy to the shingles, but they were slippery and slidey. Adrenaline pumping, I skittered up, hands and knees, to the lower peak of the porch roof and stopped. Holding on to the peak with my gloved hands, I realized I would not clean all the gutters.

I had created in my imagination this story: Lori gets home. I'm waiting casually for her on the front porch with proud puffed out chest and with a sweep of my right arm up, pointing vaguely to the roof and the heavens proclaim, “Look, my winsome love, I have cleaned ALL of your gutters – yes, even the dangerous second level gutters!” She would have cursed at me for getting up on the roof, something she had expressly forbidden, but it would all be a play of course. For I know she would secretly be impressed by my masculine daring, would drop her grocery bags to her side, grab me by the arm, and take me inside to make mad and passionate love.

That was the plan and why I was going to clean the gutters. Now I was confronted with a whole new set of fantasies that involved ambulances, and broken bones, I-told-you-sos, and being out $75 to pay the guy who comes around and cleans gutters.

Where I got lucky!
To get down I reluctantly let go of the roof peak and started to slowly and uncontrollably slide toward the ladder. I sensed that if my feet hit the ladder it would be too fast, my momentum would knock the ladder over and I’d have an 8-foot fall to look forward to. Without thinking I rolled onto my back, and planted the heels of my slippery running shoes best I could and stopped! Now I was 180 degrees rotated and out of position to re-mount the extension ladder. But the stepladder was in front of me standing on a 4 foot high wooden "shed" we built for stowing trash cans, propane tanks, and miscellaneous yard gear. I had set the stepladder on top of it thinking I would grab it from the porch roof and set it in the straddled position for the second part of the climb. Not realizing I was completely fucked, I gradually inched towards the stepladder on my back. I didn’t have a plan, exactly, but thought with the combo of the two ladders something would work out. As I slowly approached the edge of the roof, I lifted my left foot to reach the extension ladder and as I did, the disappearance of that little bit of friction was all it took. My left foot, now against the extension ladder, allowed my body’s momentum to pivot to the right and I slid, sideways, right off the edge, landing on the roof of the shed.

Leaves ready for pickup!
Now this shed isn’t a regular shed, it’s sort of a homemade job, though I hired a handyman to construct it. The roof is actually a giant lid that opens up. And it’s construction is fine but not rigid (a former complaint of mine). So not only did the shed reduce my fall distance by half, the non-rigid wooden roof/lid cushioned my fall. I lied there for a moment, sat up, and took a deep breath. What did I just hurt? I waited. I waited for the pain and miraculously, after about 30-seconds, none materialized! It was like one of those scenes in the movies when the bad guys chase the good guy off a building and he lands in a dumpster full of soft, cushiony bags of trash.

I sat there for a few more moments, then hopped down, finished cleaning the lower gutters and raked up all the rest of the leaves in the yard. They now wait for the city to come around and suck them up with their leaf-sucking truck!

And that is the story of how I got lucky when Lori wasn’t home. Please don’t tell her.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

We'll always have Paris


Syrian refugees and home-grown killers from …
from Brussels?
They now threaten my wife who fears when I metro
downtown with a bunch of 5th graders on a field trip
one block from the White House.

“Fuck that,” I say, “we can’t let them win that way.”
Fuckers. I’m going to do what I want anyway.
And then I think of Timothy McVeigh
and wonder when will they
close the border with Michigan after all.

Enough days have passed so finally my FaceBook feed lights up
with my rightie and leftie and uncertaintie friends condemning and supporting Muslims.

They aren’t all the same, you know!
They are just crazy, fanatical boys
looking to take out their hatred.
Wake-up sheeple! You naïve liberals will reap what you sow
when Sharia law is thrown at you
like five score rocks at a raped virgin.

But killing Parisians? Why is that?
Okay fine!
My Christian forebears need to “own” the Crusades.
A silly idea, if you ask me. And hundreds of years ago too, by the way.
Can’t you pricks come up with anything fresh? Maybe kill Parisians because of our decadent cable TV?
It costs too much anyway and it would better fit our narrative.

And thank you Double-You for pulling the lid off. Thought democracy was a good idea didn’t you? Yeah, not everywhere it turns out. Here,
we need not Democracy over there,
for us in our comfortable suburbs.
A good propped up tyrant would have kept us much safer,
like our good friends in the Saudi Kingdom.
Oh, Mr. O., please keep them in power for my safety (May Allah bless them with many virgins after they die a slow ironic death).

And what IS up with all the virgins you “men” want over there?
Have you actually been with a virgin?
Look, I’m not the world’s most experienced guy over here.
Not by a long shot.
But I’m telling you:
Maybe before the next time you blow yourself up with a belt bomb,
just maybe consider blowing yourself up for a woman with a bit of, let’s just say, experience.
And one experienced woman truly oughtta suffice.

You boys can thank me later.

But back to the Double-You:
You broke it and bought it and we are paying for it, so thanks for that. Ten more years? One hundred? How long is the plan on this layaway?
And there is no unwinding this one. We are in it.

Yes, yes, I KNOW!
I’m a man and I’m white and heterosexual.
I live in a comfortable house with my comfortable wife and kids and things.
I have privilege. I do. I’m okay with that.
What I mean is, it is who I am. And,
AND I am also NOT okay with cops killing black kids and assassin drones and how our hands are stained with the tarry oil of our sins.

AND now it’s the fucking 2010’s, for Christ sake, and there are STILL people burning women and beheading gays and this is, I have to say, intolerable.
I am NOT okay with that either!

Sure, not all Muslims are doing this. Many Muslims are, in fact, NOT doing this.
But some are.
Just like not all Christians protest soldier’s funerals and think God Hates Fags or shoot up black churches.
But some do.
And not all Buddhists are terrorizing minorities in south-eastern Asia.
But some are.
So I have to wonder, does it really matter that they are Muslims, Christians, or Buddhists (or Jews or Hindus)?

Do you want me to tell you the answer?  Do you want me to tell you what they all have in common? Do you?

How about starting with this: We must answer for ourselves. And we must answer for our humanity. Our collective humanity. And remember we reap what we sow, and what our forebears planted. It's our legacy and heritage, so just suck it up and own that too. The sins of the father? Well, sometimes, yes.

And then continue with this: With our collective weaknesses and fears.
Our fears? Hah! That’s a good one! It is the only thing we have to fear, after all.
Along with Syrian refugees, of course.
They are a scary lot, aren’t they? At least that is what some of my FaceBook friends are saying.

Look, I grew up Catholic (and was not molested or raped, by the way) and now,
if you had to ask, I guess I would say I’m
I recently would have said agnostic, or a lapsed-atheist, ha ha.
But I see it now, and have always seen it, I think, as it is all god, nature’s God, to sort of quote Jefferson.
All this? Really?
Yes. All this.
All the beauty of the first green leaf buds on the spring trees and the
fading indigo to orange and pink of a sunset sky and when
my boys entered the world from their mother and we held their warm little pink bodies and knew life was perfect, right then, at least for a little while before she died.
Yes, all that and a glass-smooth perfectly still Seneca Lake and the
sand-pipers skittering from gentle waves along the Jersey Shore
and the paintings at the National Gallery and the Foo Fighters and Miles Davis.
A steady rain in the summer an autumn morning fog and a campfire with my brothers.
I make love to my wife and I know that all of it is God.

And then I turn on my internet and what is all this other shit that I see?
What, what is this?
And I see it for the truth that it is. It is part of it too.
This is how we finally kill my God. One cut at a time. A thousand cuts.

Human trafficking and war, famine and disease.
A man strangled to death for a lousy cigarette.
Suicide bombers and mass murderers.
Corporate fascists and angry communists.
Fat cat donors and corrupt politicians.
Rabid lapdog media spinning in their zones a perfect propaganda machine
to infect my mind with news of terror that stokes my fear.

Yes, be so afraid. So much to be afraid of, we are told.
Don’t look behind the bushes!
Run. Run! Run now inside your home to save your family!
Pulse racing with shallow respiration and barricade yourself in.
Keep the gun loaded and pointed at the door. And don’t ever, EVER, take your eye from it.

Because they are out there and they are coming for you so keep your eagle eye on that front door. Study the door knob for the first suspicious turn.
Or the shadow of feet through the crack between the bottom of the door and the threshold.
Stay vigilant, and with God on your side, you might have a chance.
But you aren’t looking at the side window are you?
That is where they come in.
From the side and the back while you are looking at the front and one sneaks upstairs and anal rapes your son and cuts off his genitals and shoves them down his throat, then to your daughter and slits her throat.
Silently, silently while you impotently stare at the front door.

Then you hear a noise from behind and you spin, gun cocked, but another, waiting, bursts through the front and pins you to the floor with a knife to your throat and a hand pressed against your mouth so you can’t scream. A knee is shoved into your gut up against your sternum and you can’t breath.
Then comes a thump, thump, thump, and you strain your neck and out of the corner of your bulging eyes you catch the silhouette of another one of them dragging your wife down the stairs by her ankles.

And this is how it ends for you as they defile her in front of you and in the back of your mind you can’t help but wonder if she likes it better from them than you.

Then as quickly as the thought rises in you, you shake it away, and the fantasy dissolves back into the back of your brain where it waits for another day. You get up and check the side window and the back door and satisfied they are secure, you return to guarding the front.

Fear then
anger then

And this is now YOUR freedom and on it goes until we have run out of genitals to mutilate
so we turn the knife to our wrists and we slowly
cut cut cut cut cut.

It’s the second act of the first book, you know; right from the start:
Brother kills brother. You can look it up.
The first was when we flipped off God.
“Fuck you, God,” says I, “I’m eating your fucking fruit! It looks gooood!”
Meanwhile keep diggin’ what’s left
from the ground and set it on fire, you know,
so I can type this on my MacBook Pro
which turns the sky into the darkest sackcloth.

And then?

Well, who knows? If anyone’s left, I guess he, or she, can take a selfie and post it online somewhere.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, they say, but neither did it fall overnight.

It took a while.