Life was a lot like that freshman lit classes, if you were lucky enough to have a good teacher. The one who made a student answer the character questions. Like Captain Ahab, in the Moby Dick novel. How did he affect you? Did he frighten you? Did you love him? What was he after? Did he change much during the time that you knew him? What most impressed you about him?
I just got back from Ireland 3 weeks ago today. It was my third trip. On that first trip, I had a gun pointed at my head by a British soldier and was not exactly sure why. I already had a history degree, but had to spend a few more years reading to find out why. On the second trip I had visited the the homestead of, the land of, a cluster of homesteads, of my ancestors. Baile, in Irish. The place that dated back to the thirteenth century. In the January 2010 trip, I traveled to Inishmore in the Aran Islands and looked out across the Atlantic, at a site where a fortress had been built 3,000 years ago. Inishmore was a place about hardship, in a land with little soil, and when Aran women made heavy sweaters for fisherman-husbands to drown faster amidst the high seas because they did not know how to swim.
On the way to Inishmore, I got seasick, but tried to keep the contents of my stomach intact. I just closed my eyes, hoping that the 20 foot waves would disappear. And the contents of my stomach would not be visible to the world. Not really knowing, my cousin told me that I should have kept my eyes open, even though it was something within the ear involving equilibrium that was at risk. (And the sun had set and the horizon was not visible.)
Trying to figure out, with my eyes open, the truth. Like where you were and where you were going. Trying to capture a few things, in music or story -- like what it meant to be Irish when you wake up in the morning, when you found your landlegs. Trying to figure out the sounds of the past, of the future, what the music all meant. The old songs. The traditional ones. The new ones, after the separation of the emigrants.
I have been in 24 countries to date, and hope to add to the number. Before I die I want to finish a novel I started 5 years ago and put away. The Masterpiece.
Masterpieces. Reproductions. The variations on a theme. So you write for the future. To leave the wisdom. In masterpieces, reproductions, replications. In a sense I think of that Victor Frankl comment about walking into a concentration camp with his masterpiece that had to be saved. At all cost. As the past conflicted with the future, as consciousness changes, beyond myself. And so a relationship, as ultimately the masterpiece was all along what you had put into your relationship while trying to hang onto your equilibrium, somewhere inside the ear.
So I was studying all about pigeon breeding which is very big these days in China. And did you ever notice where pigeons hang out ...at The Institute of Art and around these places with spirit within, like the Spirit in art? And I am recording it all, like in the Nixon White House, putting my life on the line, seeing the ghosts in the polar vortex rise from the sewers, forming characters who can live for the next fifteen years, who get in all kinds of trouble.
“This is bigger than you can imagine.”
And on Thursday nights, you will find me at the curling rink, where some nights you can see my breath -- like in a cartoon.
Taylors of Harrogate Irish breakfast tea
The morning news from about 3 newspapers
Johnson's baby shampoo
Sunday night family dinner
My landlegs, so much a part of me.
– Chickens and eggs, and why comedy writers who deal with all the same issues of pain that my doctor, dentist and lawyer do, don’t get to charge the same hourly fees? Whether big men wear out the bottom of their shoes faster. If my rapid eye movement has slowed down. Whatever happened to Hansel and Gretel, and where on OKCupid are the Catholic women?
- Fear and trust, power and money, directions to the Lost & Found, in a world that now studies DNA samples instead of just spreading crumbs. Dust. Cotton candy. The Five Second Rule. And The Big Bang Theory. How it all started. The Theory of Relativity, and nomads, influenced by what, at ground level, touches us. Exile and liberation movements. And so all the dust, and the stories – with my role in continuing them. And where is the vacuum?
– Creation. Noah and his nameless wife, starting over and dealing with loss. The outside forces which cause deep thinking. If earwax over time contributes to hearing deficits. If the TSA see us/me naked, and if this was why that employee over there applied for the job? Power, privilege, and the blasphemy of self-importance.
-About strong characters who come out of famine and hard times. And the degree of change during their lifetime. And even though I do not swim yet, I am way out beyond the shallow water. In drought. So I am the guy at the Bed, Bath, and Beyond store who asked: "How do I find your Beyond Department ... and what exactly do you have there?"
-About the recipes of old matchmakers and what's cooking? About the heat that holds thing together. The infinity in the story ... like the infinity of the past meeting the infinity of the future. The bridges connecting, as well as the crime of violating majesty, an offence against the dignity of a reigning sovereign. How does a finite being – like a seed – ever connect to a fertile land which seems so infinite? With an interest in labels – the date you were made - how can unequal beings love, unless they shared the same place and the same time? So I am required to state the date made, with some expected expiration date. So where have all the old match-makers from the the dark ages of arranged marriages gone, along with their old prayer in the polar moment of rotational inertia: "Night after night, I'm in the dark all alone. So find me a match, of my own."
-if you believed in the Five Second Rule, though inapplicable perhaps to the desert – or on the beach.
-- if you say that Mother's Day prayer of Tina Fey: "First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches."
-if you are passionate about the cause, grounded by some tradition beyond yourself, living with a sense of balance - maybe with a sprinkle of craziness - not overwhelmed with such a dizzying pluralism of choices and values and beliefs, with a goodness and even trust as you have figured yourself out, perhaps because your high life is really so good, without a dependency upon chemicals beyond your hair.
--if you are solidly formed with friends you have known since childhood who know you more intimately and understand your tastes and sense of self more viscerally than any man you could possibly hope to meet at this stage of midlife, and like up to three-quarters of Irish people, per The Washington Post, you heart-warmingly "feel loved “a lot, in your life.
-if you understand like Dr. Seuss that getting broken is in the nature of being an egg. (To quote Picasso, "every act of creation involves a form of destruction." )
-or.... message me if you understand when the Infield Fly Rule is called, base runners may advance at their own risk, even if a guy drops the ball. With less than two outs.
So now on to the questions, to see how thoughtful we both are, as I was looking for a specific, targeted audience – of one.