Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pool Shower

My breakfast yesterday morning was interrupted by my neighbor harassing a homeless man who was in the process of taking a shower in our pool area shower. My neighbor was informing the homeless man that he wasn't allowed to take showers there. The homeless man responded that he uses this shower all the time.

As you probably have figured out, I live right next to the pool, and this is the first time I ever noticed the homeless man doing this. I assume the homeless man cleans up after himself quite well too, because I never see any remnants.

I felt compelled to engage this little skirmish. So I stepped out onto my patio to chime in. (Yes, it's that close.) I informed my neighbor that this gentleman isn't hurting any one, and nobody else seems to have any use for that shower, especially at 7am. So what is the problem with letting this dude clean up?

My neighbor responded, “What if my kids come out here and see this? What am I supposed to tell them?”

To which I replied, “Don't ask me. I really wouldn't know how to tell your kids you denied a homeless man a shower.”

My neighbor then shut up and walked away.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams

Today was a sad day. Sad, because somebody who made me laugh thousands of times lost his battle with his self-perception. That inner voice that kept telling him he was a no good talent-less impostor finally convinced him of just that. He was unable to outwit his thoughts.

Depression is an everyday battle. Some days are easier than others. In fact you’re very high on yourself. Other days however, you’re barely clinging on. You can barely function let alone think rationally. Your mind bombards you with all of your failures in life. Every fucking mistake you made is tattooed into your brain. The most recent is the most painful.

When somebody calls this great man a wimp for this, it burns me up, because this guy has been fighting a battle of life and death with his demons for 63 years. That is a long battle. It’s a hard battle to fight because just when you think you've defeated it. It comes back with vengeance and reminds you that it will never go away and that you’re nothing.

Last year I lost one of my best friends to suicide. He was fighting this same battle. I was mad at him for doing that, but ultimately I am happy that he is finally out of that mental pain that was ailing him so badly. The same goes for Robin Williams. I’m sad that he is now gone, but happy that he is no longer being tortured by his thoughts.

When my friend did take his life, I was conflicted in my thoughts. Part of me was happy that he was out the pain the cursed his existence. The other part would ask why he had to be so selfish. But then maybe I was the one who was being selfish for wanting him to be here just to appease me. After all, didn't he decide to control his own fate instead of letting fate control him? Why let fate control your destiny?

RIP Robin Williams. Your thoughts were wrong, because you were awesome.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hair

Now that I am a part of the 40 year club I have to admit that I have actually been getting pretty comfortable with growing older. I’m enjoying it. Wisdom from experience is cool a thing when it slowly starts to reveal itself. That being said I discovered something frightening, shocking and a bit hard to believe, and I feel the need to disclose it.

I noticed it about a month ago. This magnificent mane of mine is starting to lose its brilliance. It’s thinning. I know this may be a bit unfathomable to you all. Even I was in denial at first. But I noticed more and more hair around my bathroom sink and shower. I was even told my cat’s hair was all over my sweater, but I don’t even own a cat! The evidence has been overwhelming and undeniable.

I cannot close my eyes forever and nor should you. Don’t get discouraged, because discouragement is the devils tool for claiming your soul. We must accept this new reality and learn how to adjust our lives accordingly. I don’t see the thinning of my hair as a sign of my decay. I see it more as entering a new stage in life, a second puberty if you will. I may be losing some hair up top, but I am gaining it in other places.

We’ll get through this, because my lustrous plume has not seen its last day. It will be a long while before it does. So let’s take this an opportunity to bask in its scintillating glory while it’s still with us. I know I will.

Have a beautiful day!

Erik

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Darkness and Light

During my dark periods I remember all of my failures, each compounding over one another. Layers of disappointment and short comings weaken my resilience. My future is a boat wayward and lost. My mental appendages stretch out for some type of leverage against the bleakness. My mind is always in either treacherous or calm waters. There is no happy medium, just pure bliss or dark pain.

I've never really felt that I belonged to anything. To any type of group or organization. I've mostly felt at little bit outcasted. I'm not saying I never felt like I belonged, but when I did, those times were few and far between. It's just a microcosm of everything, because I really don't feel that I belong in this world. I feel like a fish out of water.

It is what it is. Accept it. Don't dwell or think about what could have been, and accept what is. Deal with the present. Every moment can create a new reality and expire a prior reality. Be now. Don't be yesterday or tomorrow. Not what could have been or what can be, but what is. Embrace the new reality. Place the mistakes and accomplishments out of the mind until a similar situation arises.

My life is a possession of mine. Like all possessions I must be willing to let go of it and not be a pack rat. Holding on to possessions can weigh you down like the sediment on the ocean floor. I must be willing to risk it or wager it. I must be willing to be out of my element or my comfort zone. Accept being a fish out of water, because I can't change that. It is what it is. I am that I am, and I am out of water. It's the everyday struggle that I've accepted.

“As my anger shouts - at my own self doubt, - So a sadness creeps - into my dreams -When you're scared of living - but afraid to die - I get scared of giving - and I must find the faith to beat it” - Paul Weller Above the Clouds

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Bad Side of 80s Alternative

I love listening to 1st Wave on satellite radio. Hearing Richard Blade and The Swedish Egil spinning tunes brings me back to my youth. I do listen to the other stations. In fact I change stations quite frequently. I love a lot of new stuff. However, 1st Wave is where my dial usually rests. It’s home.

After listening to 1st wave for over two years now, I've been reminded of what alternative songs and artists from the 80's I did not like back then and still don’t like now. It’s not that they are horrible artist. It’s just that when I hear their music, my blood starts to flow in the opposite direction and I find myself switching stations.

These are credible ground breaking artists and I am not trying to dissuade anyone from liking or listening to them. However, I feel the need to admit to the world that maybe my pallet isn't’t all that developed when it comes to music.

The Eurhythmics - I cannot stand them. I never did like them when I was younger and I still don’t. Annie Lennox has an incredible voice. She really does, but I’m not into it. As for Dave Stewart, well I always see him wearing a guitar, but I just can’t seem to hear it. I hear a lot of keyboards, but not much guitar. I've always wondered if it was for show. Maybe some of their lesser known songs have more guitar, but their popular tunes never gave me much incentive to dig deeper into their library.

Kate Bush and the Divinyls - Both of these acts remind me of what it would be like if the Witch from the old Warner Brother’s cartoons was given a record contract. They both should be singing about what stews are boiling in their cauldrons.

Tainted Love by Soft Cell. - I like Soft Cell, but I hate that song. What’s worse is that it never seems to end. It goes on forever. I will switch stations, listen to a few other songs, go back to 1st Wave and it’s still going on. Tainted Love fits into my definition of hell.

The Clash – Gasp! No! How could I not like The Clash? I admit it. I am a bit embarrassed by this too. When I was young I would lie that I liked them when I actually didn't. I still don’t really like them. I do not find listening to them painful. It’s that when they come on, my first instinct is to switch stations. They really don’t do anything for me. They have a couple of songs that I like. But for the most part, I just can’t seem to get into them. I find them boring.

Pop Goes The World by Men Without Hat – This song just sucks. Thankfully it isn't as long as Tainted Love.

Together in Electric Dreams by Phil Oakley – Phil Oakley is the front man for The Human League, a band that I like. My favorite tune from The Human League is The Lebanon. It’s a great piece of music with very politically charged lyrics. There is a lot of depth to it. Together in Electric Dreams is the antithesis of The Lebanon. It’s hard to believe the same person penned both songs.

Blister in the Sun by The Violent Fems – I’m just tired of this song. It really has been over played. I think I can go through the rest of my life without hearing this song and I will be fine.

In The Name of Love by The Thompson Twins. – I really like the Thompson Twins, but that song is a stinker. Maybe if I were into slowed down Zumba dancing I would like that song.

Brian Ferry / Roxy Music - I find his solo music to be rather bland. I feel somewhat bad about not liking Roxy Music considering I really like Brian Eno. I just can’t get into it.

Again, I’m not asking anyone to agree with me. I’m not going to debate it, because it’s how I feel, and I just needed to get this off of my chest.

Anyhoo. Have a splendid day!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Pledging and Drinking

The subject of bullying and hazing has been on my mind for a while now, and I thought I would bring up a time when I was being hazed while pledging a fraternity. I don’t often bring up that part of my life, because I’m actually a bit embarrassed that I pledged a fraternity in the first place. But I did. So there.

While being pledged, I really didn't have a problem with being hazed. So long as it didn't go over the line by being abusive. The idea of hazing or going through initiation rights is to let the person being hazed know that they need to earn their place, but they shouldn't have to break their backs, be demeaned or compromise their moral codes.

One of the rules I had to follow as a pledge was to wear a pin. If I wasn't wearing it on a particular day, the first fraternity member to spot me without it would get a six pack of beer complements of yours truly. Every pledge was subject to that rule. I had no problem with that. It was actually kind of fun, and a good way to get to know some of the guys.

One Fraternity member named Scott, tended to be a bit over the top when it came to hazing or acting the fool. He never let an opportunity to belittle a pledge go by and he tended to boast his racial ignorances out of his ass. I didn't like it and I didn't him. He was a loser and was over compensating for his lack of self esteem. I don’t think he liked me much either on account I stared him down when he belittled one of my pledge brothers for not being able to handle his alcohol. Funny, I never thought my stare down was all that intimidating, but I guess I got him.

One day after that incident Scott caught me without my pin and so I asked him what beer he would like. To get me to spend a lot of money, he said he wanted a six pack of a European import. But Instead of one, I chose to get him two six packs of Grolsch.



It was a week night when I brought them to him. Scott was pleasantly surprised by the added bonus 6 pack, but little did he know the sinister side to my generosity. He “temporarily” broke off studying for his next day’s mid-term and we kicked it in the back yard of the fraternity house on two lounge chairs. I also graciously supplied us with two pint glasses.

I first poured his beer, American style with no head. I then poured my beer with about four fingers of head. Scott questioned the way I poured mine, and I told him that I like the froth and that he should try it some time. He said something to the effect of “Hell no!”

Scott was almost done with his first by the time I was about half way through mine. So I opened another bottle and refilled his beer. There was about a quarter left in the bottle. So I topped mine off with that, and of course poured it to increase the head making my glass look full.

The next time I topped Scott off, he was about half way done. I topped mine with a lot of head, and with a slight of hand poured the remainder out onto the grass. I kept on doing this the whole night. I think by the time we were done with all of the beer, I had probably only two and a half beers and he had about eight. I got him wasted.

I took care of Scott that night and helped him to bed. It wasn’t really chilly that evening, but you just never know when a cold front will strike. So I turned on his space heater and placed it near him. I then left his door a little open to keep the heat in his room all night, but not cook him. Being that Scott slept in such a hot room that night he sweated out a lot of his fluids and woke up with a nasty hangover. It was so bad. He couldn't go to school the next morning to take that mid-term. Oops, silly me.

Word got around that a pledge drank Scott under the table. So another fraternity member took the opportunity when it presented itself and called me on missing my pin. I did it a second time. This particular member was pretty cool. So I didn't turn the space heater on him.

Scott didn't mess with me after that, because I think somewhere in the back of his mind he knew I got him. I still find it funny that these guys didn't know one of the oldest tricks in the book. Either way, I beat them at their own game.

I ended up not joining the Fraternity. The looks on their faces were priceless when I told them I was going to pass on it, but I had to be honest with myself. I really didn't see myself getting anything out of it, especially a group of people who would have an idiot and racist like Scott as one of their members. I really did not want to be associated with him.

I found it rather funny that after all of this, when I would see some of the members on campus, they wouldn’t acknowledge me. I would wave to them and they would look the other way. Only some of them did this though. The others were still cool with me.

All in all, it was a good experience. I learned a lot about myself going though it and how I react to group think. If you don't like the way people in an organization are treating you, leaving is a good option. With that said, I would like to end this on a quote from Groucho Marx that for some reason resonates with me, “I won't belong to any organization that would have me as a member.”

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Hike and Brew





A couple years ago I went on a hike with Sergio. The time was Saturday morning and the place was Mt. Baden Powell. Sergio advised that we pack 30lb back packs full of a bunch of just-in-case shit. It was a survivalist pack, and due to all the traffic on that trail, it made no sense at all. Well, to the logical person it made no sense, but to Sergio, it made all the sense in the world.

Because of that damn backpack and my general out-of-shapeness, I pretty much inched my way up that trail. It was painful for me. With every step I wanted to just say fuck it and turn around, but Sergio wouldn’t let me. He kept on pushing me. He kept letting me know that I would regret it if I did. I also knew that he wouldn’t let me forget it if I did. I wasn’t going to let Sergio have that over me, nor was he.



It was brutal, but I finally made it to the mountain top. I don't think I could have done it without Sergio. It was yet another time he had my back. We chilled out for about a half hour up there. It was beautiful.



Sergio led the way back down, and we obviously did that a lot faster. Along the way down he was about 10 yards ahead of me when a young woman with headphones jogged passed me. When she got to Sergio she couldn’t quite get around him because he wasn’t getting out of the way. I guessed that he didn’t realize that she was right behind him, but I decided not to call out to him to move over.

After about a minute or two he finally looked over his shoulder and looked a bit startled. He promptly moved out of the way, and then looked at me and said, “I thought that was you behind me. Why didn’t you say anything?” Then he glanced back the other way towards the jogging woman fading into the distance. He turned back towards me, smiled and said “Ah, I know why. I would’ve done the same thing.” I smiled back and we both started busting up at our perverted selves.

One of my fondest memories of Sergio was when we were brewing beer in his garage at his Chino Hills condo. All the garages in that complex faced each other and we had the garage door open to keep the air circulating and the place cool. Well, at one point a car pulled into a garage across the way and out came a mom, her two children (boy and girl) and what looked to be a grandma. As they exited the car and garage the little boy stood fixated on Sergio and me. We just stirred the batch and smiled. Then the grandma came up behind the boy, hurried him along and scowled at us as if we were manufacturing meth. We just scowled back at her.

When they were gone, Sergio and I just started laughing, all the while listening to his beloved Sublime. We listened to so much Sublime that day that I finally had to put a stop to it. I asked him if I could just put on the radio and he let me. So I started thumbing through the channels and found a mariachi station and left it there. I felt that the music had the perfect beat for stirring the brew.

After about a half hour of mariachi Sergio had enough. He protested against the music the only way Sergio knew how. He went off on me. He said, “Enough of this shit! People are walking by the garage, hearing the music and looking in here. Do you know what they are thinking?” Before I could answer his question he blurted, “They’re thinking ‘that poor white guy. That Mexican is making him listen to that mariachi music.’ But no! It’s the other way around! That damn white guy is making the Mexican listen to the mariachi music!”

“Did you want to put up a sign explaining that?” I asked.

“Shut the fuck up!” he responded and promptly put Sublime back on. We then looked at each other and started busting up. I always knew how to push his buttons.

I’m still having trouble making sense of Sergio not being here. He was too young and we had more adventures to go on. Part of me is pissed off at him for that. Why did he have to be so damn selfish? The other part of me his happy that he is out of any of that pain that was torturing him so much. Maybe I am the one who is being selfish by wanting him to endure that pain just to appease me. He could have at least said goodbye to everyone though. Either way, I will totally miss him.