The Blood Moon.

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The Ancients looked up in wonder. Or like last night in primal fear. The Moon Goddess was hidden. The Hunter’s Moon was the color of blood. The pinpoints of light in the normal night sky reappeared for a brief moment. Nature’s rhythms dictated their lives. Animal habits told them of storms. The Sun and wind controlled the difference between hunger or plenty. A primal uncaring energy they couldn’t understand. Every death tore a hole in the fabric of a shared oral memory.

Standing stones were mysterious monuments to those following. They had no context in the new world. Ancient knowledge lost till the written word preserved history. Imagine when the darkness of night was complete. No light pollution to hide the immensity of the night sky. I have experienced this from the deck of a Navy ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Last night that sense of childlike wonder mixed with a feeling of trepidation. Being a product of a modern world, there’s a disconnect to the night sky. Only the brightest stars can be seen. If at all. The light dispels that fear of the dark is hardwired through DNA. Our species has survived by avoiding danger through visual clues. That separates us from the rest of the mammals we share life’s building blocks with. We can’t focus enough light to see in the absence of light.

Last night moon matches those rites practiced by nature based religions. The power of a blood moon on a high holy day. Two forces with the power of cultural force combined reinforced the ultimate unknown. A small select group is charged to interrupt these event. Calming fears and hope. Last night I felt the magic in the warm night air. The power of ancient movement rediscovered. The timelessness which briefly erased my constructed self importance. A moment of fragility. We I’m I to dictate my will to the universe. It wasn’t fear or lack that filled me. Peace. A reaffirmation. I am but a leaf on the wind.

A conversation.

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School’s back in session. That means different things to every parent. It all depends on the age of the child. I have two teeenagers in two schools. Not in the same distincts. My daughter attends a science and art academy. Which means pick ups at odd hours. Like most such schools, not in the best neighborhood. She has always marched to another beat. Include her music. Hannah Montana. Bieber. Then there was One Direction. This included all the posters and kitch. Now it’s Fall Out Boy and Pierce the Veil. Black and white pictures from a library print cover one wall. My job is to disabuse the proven trend that all good music ends at high school. Intense emotional attachment get diluted by other distractions afterwards. The music of her youth will not be mine or her mother’s.

That’s actually a good thing. The music on my computer covers the Middle Ages to Now. From very continent. Thanks NPR) Passing exposure is what I can pass on. This is the scene from yesterday.

Drive to Saginaw listening to Jazz playlist. Most female singers. Arrive to the beginning of Serpentine Fire by Earth, Wind and Fire. Great song.

“How was school? New Friends? What were their names again?” (Important to keep up with this things)

“Good. Got invited to two different things this weekend. Mom wants to go camping. Just getting a social life. Finally. Why do you have two cell phones. Do I get one? Got a job interview for a restaurant has a hostess.”

[Those of you with teenagers understand. Others nod knowingly. Some are in training.]

Air thump bass. Look of Dad’s weird. Nothing new. Older parent in upper middle class in Houston,TX exposed me to their music. I was in charge of the music and bar during their many parties.

“Got introduced to this by Mike in Junior high. A white guy from the Heights. Mixed community. Did all the mix tapes for the dances at Seton.(Catholic school embracing vatican II.) Remember when I talked about Billie Holiday? Got some.” (Baby Got Lost)

[She wants to be an actor. Sarcastically funny. Both on person and writing. Crazy brave. Musical theatre will take time. Found in workshop that her voice is alto and she too white to dance.]  {Father’s right to embarrass}

M: “One octave range. singing before or after the note.”

D: “She gets a lot out of it.”

[Next song Nnenna Freelon. If I Had You. Listens a bit.]

“Hey dad, you got any Dropkick Murphy?”

[Not on playlist. New phone. Since corrected.]

“How about Bill Joel?”

Intro to Piano Man. And we both start singing to live version. Sat in driveway until it finished.

“Love ya.”

Cranking old Punk all the way home. She loves that playlist. My soccer Ultra daughter. My son is a dropkick fan. How many parents get that request on the way home from boy Scouts?  They have radically different personalities but share some of my music. Doing one thing right.

The Day after

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It would seem strange to be writing about Labor Day after it happened. With everything closed where I live, all the Wifi hotspots were unavailable. One good thing about all that is it allowed me to think. General American history is glossed over in school. Not a testable requirement. Texas and California approved textbooks are the default national standard. California is broke. Leaving the most radical dysfunctional state to control the content. Being born and raised in that particular state, I had a bird’s eye view before the nation found out. A handful of politically appointed people work in obscurity shaping their version of everything. Who needs Jefferson or evolution. Why would the Miner’s struggle for better working conditions be talked about where union organizers have to register with the state? It would give workers ideas. Besides this way off duty sheriff deputies can be used to keep those landowners angry with the XL pipeline in line.

The conditions during the late 19th and early 20th century were ripe for the rise of unions. An age of movement from the farm to the cities in search of work. Application of the newest technology required more workers. The available of cheaper food fueled the Industrial revolution. The new Consumer economy. The vast waves of unskilled European immigrants found work in the factories. These immigrants had a background Americans had forgotten. A Village collective mindset. Geography reinforced it. Europe. A continent with a history of an elite class ruling all. Excess the rule instead of the exception. Power corrupts. Privilege by accident of birth. Everything the earliest American colonist rejected. The prospect of being killed by Indians was a step up.

These immigrants didn’t all stay in urban areas. Skills learned at home translated to their new home. MIners. Lumberjacks. Farmers. Virgin land. A collective voice was the first heard in the most dangerous occupation still, Mining. The labor movement was hidden away in the mountains. Among the poorest population. The United Mine Workers were born in conflict. Nurtured by the blood of men, women and children producing the one resource fueling the factories. Coal. Company Towns. Wages paid in script. Credit from the only store in town. Europe overlords American style. Just like today the general population only pay attention to what the media covers. Newspapers hated the union movement.

1894. The wildcat Pullman railroad strike. Reduced wages in a company town. This was national. A boycott of rail traffic that paralyzed the country. Championed by the more radical union. Opposed by two more conservative. The General Managers Association coordinated it all. Not all unions are created equal. Thirty people killed. 80 million in damages. Federal troops and US Marshals were instrumental in break the strike. Another president used his federal powers to break a strike affecting public transportation. Reagan and the Air traffic controllers. In between was one that refused in another strike involving a segment of transportation. I live up the road from the site of the Flint sit down strike of 1936. This is where the general idea of Unions spring from. Defined political by Nixon. Perfected by Reagan and his southern supporters.

Which brings me to now. Tipping points in new technology created the need for unions. The internet has smashed any drive of collective organization. We live in a worldwide economy. Supply chains are global. Railroads still haul more freight than any truck can. But no passengers. The freight between coastal port facilities. Carried by foreign flagged shipping. Foreign cars manufactured have plants in southern states. Forget pensions. Or working at one company till retirement. Modern medical discoveries have extended our lifespans. More years to work for shrinking wages at part time positions. One critical aspect of unions have yet to be addressed. The training of skilled workers. Community colleges are taking up the slack. Too many regard factory work by the images of the past. A skilled position with good pay and no real student debt.

Labor day. Memorial day. Christmas. All our national holidays have become just another day to make money by staying open. My question is, does it really matter if I write this the next day? Welcome to the world of the temp worker.

The New Age of Renaissance

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When the Western world emerged for the dark, those who wanted to had a wide field to explore. A society rediscovering itself. All with help for the Islamic world that never fell asleep. Just like today the 1% ruled. Above the law. Able to wield vast amounts of influence. And wage war for economic reasons. The rest mirror us. Professionals, skilled tradesman, merchant and workers. Anchoring all this was a dream. Rebuild the classic empire of Rome. The question becomes who is the new da Vinci? Michelago? Boutaccelli?

America went through its first Renaissance following the Civil War. Hidden parts of the country were discovered by those with money and influence. Railroads made it all possible. Easy cheap transportation let fuedal Lords create City States. Not on location but personality. The US economy was wide open of those with the skills to fill it. In the end, the industrial giants of their day gave back to the public. Carnegie with libraries. The Rockefeller Foundation. Those were men of immigrant stock who carried the same dream of old Rome. Build monuments to carry their name forward in history.

For over a 100+ years there were cracks and fissures in the vast US economy for those who had the drive to reach heights unimagined. Then the economy matured. There was still innovations but no daVincis. Variations on a theme. Leaps in technology were followed by baby steps. Engineers were replaced by financial institutions who hired engineers to find those nuggets. Until 1993. The Internet. A wide open space absent the restraint or limitations of location.

The hoarded information was suddenly available. Not at first. Who would emerge from the swirling mob? Who could put together the right package at the exact moment to win? We now know those Names. Microsoft. Oracle. Google. Hewlett Packard. And the one who give birth to all IBM. The tools and platforms that have given rise to the Makers. Not all Millennials are created equal. Our society still operates on subtle patronage. Who do you know? Where do you live? Immigrants still play a huge part in pushing this country to new heights.

The Genius of da Vinci can now be gotten on Amazon. In CD or mp3 format. Unfortunately their are still very few true Renaissance men and women. Artist. Engineer Philosopher. But those who are the Princes of the new economy are started to give back. Not only in the US but the world. Once more the hidden has been revealed. Africa and India are no longer exotic names on a map peopled by the strange or unknown. Mostly. This flood of information has robbed of the desire to see these location ourselves. Why live the couch. We have 300 channels on cable.

Those living in the Medieval and Renaissance never travelled very far from their place of birth.  we are still tied to the places we live for many of the same reasons. America is so large that 10 miles in European terms can mean a 100 miles here. Yes our technology in transportation affords rapid movement to and from places in the world. It has also brought the dominate culture with it. Adventurers who braved the dragons on the empty spaces were celebrated. It took effort and planning to get there. The energy in that pursuit mirrors that of those stepping outside of one role to tackle many.

I find it refreshing that information is so readily accessible. It allows for curiosity for the unknown. Choices set to open up. The downside of it is there isn’t time or effort into critical think for what is learned. What is the larger framework? Welcome to the New Renaissance. No more guild rules protecting trade secrets. Watch YouTube. A society and its culture are continually shaped by the people living there. The Patrons are now Angel investors or crowd sourcing. The artist and inventor can be famous while living. A brave new world once more.

What is it to be a Friend?

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Definition of a friendship. A series of questions. How do we choose them? A mystery. It’s like asking why certain women catch my eye. Or why I was lucky enough to have three of them love me. That it happened is good enough. Friends are like us on some basic level. Appearances are misleading. Are we lacking something, real or imagined, they can provide? I can’t tell a joke. It’s all about timing. My friend from the Navy lives in Minnesota. Haven’t seen him in 20+ years. But I spent three years being a Martin to his Lewis. The straight man. Complementary not antagonistic. That trust and endless games of Cribbage formed the framework that allows our friendship to stay alive. Casual conversations filled the structure to withstand the troubles any close relationship suffers.

A driving force compels our subconscious to seek these people.  A integral component in fulfilling our basic needs for safety and belonging. Someone to have our backs. Friendships are an unequal equation in constant motion to achieve balance. I’ve have very few close friends. Personality. Circumstance. Mental illness. Not knowing what or who I am. A lacking of clearly defined core values. All pieces to a puzzle. When no balance can be found, it all falls apart. That’s the painful part of friendship. Losing it. Which is what just happened.

Met by accident. Soccer was the starting point. Funny, No filter. Cooks. Athletic. Well traveled. Except for last, everything I’m not. All this had a great appeal from my recent social isolation. Fitting in is a challenge. The observer sees but doesn’t interact. Life is a contact sport. So what could I bring to create a balance?  The answer was not much. There has been a nagging thought since before the marriage fell apart. Was a portraying myself as a victim? Given my childhood it’s a very real question. Living in the chaos caused by a outwardly functioning mental ill father leaves scars. Along with certain coping behaviors. Which outside of that setting aren’t very healthy. A handed down family recipe that didn’t start with the best ingredients. Time to tinker with it.

Medication has quieted the crazy in my brain. Patterns emerge. I never pulled my weight in too many relationships. Not easy to admit. It’s caused a great deal of pain. Lots of good intentions with very little follow through. I wasn’t a good husband. Or friend. The thing about lessons learned is the ability to change. Some of you might be put off by this filtered fairly brutal honesty. Again is this playing a form of a victim? I just don’t know. The more information about Bipolar that’s presented to me, the more I understand certain behaviors that inform my reality. Mental illness is a chronic condition. Not disease.Those can be cured over time. Understanding the complex structure of the brain is growing everyday. Maybe in a hundred years they’ll have a corrective procedure. Until then I’ll still be making mistakes.

If my lost friend reads this, I’m sorry for trying to live off your life or accompaniments. I ignored every clue to back off. Good luck with all the plans you have.

Life is a House

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The satisfaction of building fills a fundamental need. There’s a beginning, middle and finished product. A process which is the antithesis of modern living. The long string of never ending tasks where we are only a part of. Thankless parts that are not recognized or appreciated. There’s not anything unimportant in building a house or table. but we all build our living house. The plans we inherited from our family.

We grow up in a neighborhood of our parents. Why they chose that place or were trapped there defines the parameters of who we become. Limitations to be overcome or large enough not to notice. Grass or concrete. Small wood houses or suburbs. Apartment. Sharing a bedroom with a brother or brothers. If your lucky starting with your own room. Dorm rooms. First apartment. Upgrade to house and kids. At this point that handed down ideal of hearth and home come full circle. Until it all falls apart. By deconstructed the how and why you started sorting out of stuff behind closed doors.  The doors of rooms built on future’s promises or broken dreams. The walls were flimsy. Too easy to breach. Then it’s question of cost. The money to fill the new addition is straightforward. The emotional investment isn’t. Some compromises are toxic. It seeps into every crack and crevice of your life. The damage is lasting.

We all know those who jump from one failed relationship to the next. Generally with the same type of partner. Pain is the addiction. Fear is the driving force. We humans have trouble with being alone. Modern life is filled with chaos and never enough time. It takes a special courage to downside. The decision to stop the madness starts with a physical act. Close friends or family are happy to see you getting healthy. But can’t understand why you stopping doing things with them. You’re different. Welcome to the road less taken. Only the few fellow travellers understand. By slowing down to their pace,.they magically appear.

Change, either by divorce, break up or moving, becomes a time of self reflection. To keep that ugly picture you like but no one else does or to live someone else’s dreams, is healthy and hard. Many aren’t ready for hard. Youth has the promise of time. I struggle with changing the definition of time. Something of an unexpected struggle. There are drawing of my fictional perfect house. Two of them actually. Complete with notes on what material to use. Ghost from a past life.

Implosion experts tell of tools moved or disappearing during the preparation.Anger ghosts fighting the destruction of the physical walls to their spirit space. My ghost still occupy the space of the walls I’ve destroyed. Temptation. Memories. Spider webs. When the lease is up, I’ll be ready for a new space. The apartment is too big. Not enough windows. Place is about quality not cubic space. One thing that was thrown out was the lifestyle of ownership. Mowed enough grass. Added three things to the To Do list after crossing one off. Filled extra space just to appear less empty. I’ll help anyone do repairs or expand but return to a space someone is responsible for. My time is more important than that. Working extra hours afford all the toys. Only to spend all weekend mowing.

Sidewalks were common before cars. Walkable cities make more sense to a loner by personality. They force interaction. A shared experience. I grew up in a neighborhood. Today can that concept be applied to newer subdivisions that make up the Suburbs. The neighbors were invited to gatherings at my parents house. That sense of community is the ingredient I’m looking for. Where that at is the journey. From visions of a Mediterranean style villa to a trailer. Life is all about change.

What If

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Starting to fully appreciate the difficulties of the long term unemployed. Living tends to do that. Add a healthy dose of residual bad habits fueled by stress. Toxic cocktail. The one tangible thing that keep me from the ranks of the others was my car. Maintenance. Gas. General wear. The perfect storm has hit. My ex and kids live close but a car is still necessary. Time I have. Get kids to appointments or help with crazy crowded schedule. All of this I have dealt with before. Not always the best but got through it. The question has been asked. What if…

What if something happened to my Ex? Could I take my kids? The answer isn’t one a parent wants the truth to. Unfortunately in my world it the only one I have. The main reason of my staying here would be moving down state with my Ex’s brother. Nice house. Both him and his wife are great people with very good jobs. And no kids. They have been in my kids life such they were born. The rock hard truth is my situation will not change overnight. Or in the next couple of years. Too many issues have come to the fore. All elements in the fundamental shift my life has taken.

The rocky bottom of which is battering me has broken any illusion of being able to fight the current. Now it’s looking for calmer waters. Wisdom comes complete with scars. Accepting my personality has been a long, at times difficult, road. The stages of grief apply best. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. And finally Acceptance. Taking off the mask is not for the faint hearted. Perception is created in the brain. That inner interpretation of who we are. Dorian Grey. It’s been said that those of us who suffer from depression see the world clearly. One scientist studied that statement. Yes we do. The way it works is by limiting choices. Many good options get removed too.

This is the core of what I’m struggling with. There are other ways available in my blind spots. The trick is realizing that. Just like an addict has to admit they have a problem before treatment works. A dedication to change. Radical change was something to avoid. I’m not sure how being homeless, broke and alone doesn’t qualify into that definition. Eight months on is a fact that I have to keep repeating to myself. Years can’t be replaced by months. The next tattoo will be simple. 500/1%/1000 and 713 9th. A reminder. A mantra. Write 500 words a day. Improve by 1% each day. A thousand hours doesn’t make you an expert. But it’s better than 80% of others in the same field. The address is of the homeless shelter will forever be a touchstone of survival.

One constant has been that those who have been there are more helpful than those that haven’t. It’s easier to be poor in a bad economy area located in a state that was a decade depressed before 2008. That Midwest attitude adapted to the new normal. It also makes rejected the old ways of doing harder. What do mean you don’t/can’t deal with the windowless metal box? Work hard. Live Harder. Somehow that isn’t the balance that’s healthy for me.  New lesson. How to hustle. But what if it won’t help?

So in the unlikely event something happens to my Ex, my kids will go live with their aunt and uncle. Their dreams and aspirations mean more to me than the long struggle of changing the state assistance I receive. Our kids first. That took all the emotional baggage out of the separation. They have been the basis of our relationship since. Technology allows me to stay in contact. There was a point in the past when a father leaving his family for the Gold Rush or any opportunity away from them was beyond comprehension. Not anymore. I am not my father. Or maybe I am. It could be a rejection of the binary solution presented. There’s always a third choice Grasshopper.

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