Re: 13

Too busy (and lazy) to write more story today, but some ramblings on what’s going on.

I think I need to work in more back story demonstrating how tightly wound Colleen is. Can’t just say it, gotta show it. After all, for character evolvement to work, we need to spell out where the character is evolving from.

She has barriers and defense mechanisms she’s perhaps not fully aware of. Don’t we all like to believe we’re one of the “normal” ones. “Anti-social” and “odd” are labels for other people, not us.

Will love set Colleen free? Maybe, maybe not, but surely it will unwind her a bit.

Will Colleen get hurt? Oh, c’mon, of course she will, isn’t it inevitable? The big mystery is where she evolves from that. I certainly don’t know, we will just have to watch and see what she does.

What about Ben? Are you serious? Nobody cares about Ben. He’s not flushed out yet, but let me give you an advance peek. Peter Pan. Some men never grow up. Cursed with perpetual adolescence. They may have a job, drive a car, and other grown-up stuff, but at their core, dysfunctional. Don’t expect much character evolvement from Ben. He’s Colleen’s foil. That’s what he’s here for.

How do I know so much about Ben? Besides being his author, he’s like me in many ways. I don’t intend to grow up either.

But Ben is not me. Big differences. Starting with where the story is going. I don’t have what it takes to seduce Colleen. Aw, the benefit of creative license.

We left off at the party. Obviously, Ben is going to drive Colleen home. Fast forward to the bedroom. Colleen is drunk and may make advances.

I hate the movie cliche where the guy is a saint, tucks the girl in, sleeps on the couch. Excuse me, what sort of Pleasantville planet do script writers think we live on. Ben is not one of those saints. He’s along for the ride until Colleen passes out. Ben may not be a saint, but he’s not a rapist either.

Another movie cliche which drives me absolutely bonkers is the coy little morning after banter, did we/didn’t we do it. That’s not even Pleasantville, I don’t know what planet that is. Unless I was fed a handful of roofies, my vagina tells me whether or not I’ve had sex. Okay, I don’t have a vagina, but if I did, it would know. Ben and Colleen will banter, but not about that. They are not from planet obtuse.

I’m waiting to find out if Colleen still jumps Ben’s bones while sober, or if woundtootightedness or decorum get in the way.

Look at that. Didn’t feel like writing, but put some words down despite myself.

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13 Epilogues

Forward:

I got the premise for this story from a woman I met shooting pool. (Don’t the best stories come from billiard halls?) I never managed to hear her full story, so I have to take the premise and run with it, just making up shit as I go. Or should I say, recording what my characters do as I turn them loose.

This is an experiment for me, writing unedited rough draft straight to blog. My problem has always been over-correcting as I go, and grinding to a halt. I hope to correct that, and just pile up some words. No promises to write every day. I’ll just keep getting back to this when I can.

My dream is for this story to someday become a bad made-for-cable movie on the Lifetime Network. With no further ado…

Chapter 1:

Colleen found her soulmate at a party. It wasn’t much of party. More like a staff meeting, everyone talking shop. They bitch bitch bitch at work more than they actually work, but when they are free, act like they’re still fenced in, won’t let it go. Yak, yak, yak. Milky Way glowing above, showing them their insignificance, if only anyone would glance up and feel it.

Colleen didn’t need to look up. She already felt insignificant. And lonely. Everyone else was coupled up. Either they brought a lover along, or ewwww, were part of an office romance, a proposition inviting trouble, but now this evening, nobody on the outs, everybody was getting along. Colleen noticed each little touch or kiss, and felt sick. An outcast.

Or was it the wine? It came from a box. Distracted by the pleasant gurgle each pour made, she lost track of her top-ups. One little belch left a sweet and sour taste in the back of her throat, and she decided it was time to go. Casting about for her purse and scarf, she stood up too quickly, and felt the world spin.

Fine time for Ben to show up. Wise-cracking as usual. Some self-deprecating one-liner about the party starting without him. Loud clothes, loud gestures, loud mouth, the buffoon made her head hurt. Weren’t accountants supposed to be meek and mild-mannered?

And weren’t they supposed to stay behind a desk? It secretly irked Colleen the way he came and went at will, random missions to random plants, while she who surely outranked him, felt chained to her office.

Colleen always felt something was “off” about Ben. the stupid jokes, the flamboyance, silly hats and sunglasses, girly little sportscar; either over-compensation for deep-seated insecurity, or surely he must be gay. Colleen felt superior and impervious to this annoying man.

The spinning worsened, and Colleen felt herself begin to topple. Suddenly, a gentle, yet strong hand grasped her elbow and steadied her, disaster miraculously averted. Without anyone noticing. Except her rescuer. A sincere voice, soft as a whisper, absolutely no hint of flamboyance, “easy, dear.” Then a hand at the small of her back, her secret sweet spot, guiding her back to her seat.

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Perspective

Woke up middle of the night. Cold and cranky. Shut the windows. Put the leftover spaghetti in the fridge, irritated about daughter leaving it out. Caught up on emails, Facebook, meetups, ride schedules and weather forecast, further annoyed by prospect of rainy morrow. Worked on and finally gave up on finding lost recent writing projects, including would-be post, “Little Black Dress.” Pissed off beyond belief. Facts can be restructured, but truth is lost with the details, poignancy gone with the wind.

Laid back down, drifting off, then the nocturnal cats create a ruckus, making it officially a lost night. Brewed some coffee, heated some pop-tarts, flipped the TV on in time for the morning news.

Tornado devastation in Oklahoma, 51 souls departed, scores missing, many of them children. Block after city block obliterated, countless left homeless and empty-handed, lives in shambles. Yeah, kind of puts things in perspective. Makes my pissing and moaning about trivial matters seem even more pathetic.

And there’s also the report of Zach Sobeich’s passing, a talented young man who handled an unfair fate with dignity and grace. Certainly more poignant than any lost-dream drivel spouted by this middle-aged man.

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Recuperation

Today was kind of a recuperation day after a long weekend. Pretty discouraging to wake up to 34 degrees after basking in the 90’s of Vegas. Got some errands done while it was still windy and gray.

Ants in the kitchen driving me crazy. Laid out half-dozen traps. Kept seeing ants go in without seeming to come out, but the overall quantities didn’t seem to diminish. We had the same problem when we moved in last fall, and what worked best then was some vile-smelling spray from the dollar store of all places. Prolly surplus DDT from 50 years ago. Guess I’m riding to the dollar store tomorrow, despite hating the place.

Gray cat stinks. Don’t know why. Maybe I can talk Diedre into giving her a bath. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Managed to get a ride in towards sunset, exploring the railroad tracks, the Sauk River, and industrial park west of town. Dined at Applebee’s for my usual Monday night fare, $5 burger w/fries & $5 pitcher Mich Golden Light. Million calories, my worst indulgence next to semi-daily frappuccinos. Finished with 15 miles, so managed to burn a few back off. Last stretch was after dark, but I had my lights, elected bike-unfriendly division street, racing a semi-truck. Poor bastard hit every stop-light and I won.

Twins game was on at the bar. Home team was winning, but the game was dragging, didn’t wait out the completion. Good to see Hicks playing well after .049 batting average only a week ago. Bottom of the 7th he robbed Chicago of 2 runs by snaring a would-be home run at the top of the fence, preserving a 2-run lead. Then top of the next inning, jacked a solo home-run. 3 run total impact, all of which doesn’t show up in the next-day’s box score, but his teammates and the fans sure appreciated it.

Yesterday, my flight got in about 5:30 am. I had slept on the plane, but I was still tired as hell. Broke up the hour-and-half drive home with breakfast and Sunday paper at McDonalds. Long nap when I got back.

Who the hell leaves Vegas on a Saturday night anyhow? Dads who made promises to daughters, that’s who. Drove Diedre and her friend Ashley to a concert downtown MPLS for grunge band Falling in Reverse, who ironically hail from Vegas. Hell of a thing, coming from a town where you’re competing against headliners commanding $50 and up per seat. Must be a local scene. Like most tourists, I’ve never ventured off the strip, except for that time I got hemmed in by razor fence and freeways trying to walk to the airport, whereupon I had to backtrack to a fortunately placed bus-stop.

Lead singer Ronnie’s claim to fame is serving time for manslaughter, writing his most popular songs in jail. Fne role-model for my daughter. Of course, it was Angel’s evil spawn, Mack, who turned Diedre onto F.I.R. in the first place. Some of their fine tunes purportedly lurk on my hand-me-down iPod, but I couldn’t identify any for the life of me.

I killed time riding my bike around the Kenwood neighborhood, admiring mansions and doing a little hill work, and downtown, scoping out the Northstar and Hiawatha Line train stations. I’ve been kicking around the idea of having a MPLS crash pad where I could keep a bike and a car, and go back and forth from St Cloud via the train, saving on gas. A simple efficiency or a roommate scenario like flight attendants have would do. It would sure help out with club rides and maintaining my twin cities friendships.

I have a couch-surf place south of town, which is handy for ongoing duties at the farm, but I sometimes worry about wearing out my welcome there. I am Bobby-toxic after all, and things happen. Which I know all to well after a dust-up with a former couch provider who actually struck me repeatedly about the head, compelling me to cease all contact with her.

After the concert, I treated the girls to Pizza Luce, another calorie indulgence I could’ve done without. I wish they would’ve let me take their pic, such a cute pair, blue hair, purple hair, piercings – quintessential teenagers. Oh, the photo sharing they engaged in, of shirtless boy rockers whose low-slung jeans defied gravity hanging half off ass.

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Not much

Not much happening in my simple little life here in the wastelands. (Picture the warning signs on narrow desolate road entering post-apocalypse no-man’s land of “Mad Max.”) (random aside: would like to see Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series finally make it to the screen to find out how they depict that sci-fi wasteland, particularly the Blaine-the-train sequence.) Ha! Not that my life is a desolate wasteland, just wanted to share the fleeting imagery.

Stuck in blue-collar St Cloud, an apparent vacuum of culture, an outsider amongst cliquish strangers, this entire experience feels like a self-imposed exile. Away from friends, familiar bikeways around lakes and landmarks I love, favorite restaurants and events. But life is what you make of it! Beholden upon me to embrace all new experiences with a sense of adventure, make new friends, discover new favorite places.

That said, just blew off one possibility this morning. Was thinking of heading over to Mille Lacs to check out the revamped ice races scheduled there this weekend. I say revamped because the current International Ice Racing Association (IIRA) series is a mere shadow of its former glory days of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s when fast machinery and famous names like Jerry Hansen, Peter Kitchak, Paul Menard, Leighton Reese, Bobby and Tommy Archer ruled the ice. The sport hit tough times and almost died. Some retired, some launched their careers to NASCAR, Indy & LeMans series, and some like my father embraced Vintage Racing and left ice racing behind.

At least it hasn’t died completely, and for that I’m grateful. It is now, more than ever, a low-budget racing series, i.e. race-a-clunker. I should point out that even in it’s heyday with all the big dogs running up front, the IIRA was still an excellent entry-level series for any skill level or budget. Even perpetually broke-ass me managed to campaign an old Saab 96 when I wasn’t borrowing my mom’s Sonett.

What happened to all the classic machinery of those glory days. My Dad’s unique experimental-class V6-powered Saab Sonett lurks in the machine shed as I puzzle over what to do with it. imageIt had been sold to a rich-man’s kid for ice-racing in Canada and was abused and used up, then neglected to the rusted out hulk it is today. At some point, my father bought it back for nostalgia, but I think even he had no idea what to with it. Time-consuming and expensive project to restore, yet not eligible for any current racing series. And with Dad gone, who else would undertake that effort? I’ve balked at any talk of disposing of it. Mister cooperation can get prickly at times. I’ve been searching online for an ice-racing museum to donate the car to, but have been unable to find one despite hearing talk of one in New York State. Striking out with Saab museums, too. In fact, the factory Saab museum in Sweden is apparently lost with the demise of Saab. (Tim Winker photo from circa ’75 AutoWeek)

I’ve gotten the hair-brained idea of starting an ice-racing museum. No idea how to pull it off. Where to put it, how to under-write it, where to get more cars. I know of potential key-players, but I don’t “know” them, nor do they know me, or even of me. The problem is I’m too soft-spoken and unobtrusive, I suck at networking, and thoroughly lack the wherewithal to pull-off such an endeavor. What I need to do is find and plant the idea in the head of an enthusiastic point man. Which was one small reason to go to the races, to scout around, float the idea.

Other vintage ice-racing cars must be out there. Besides my father’s Sonett, there was also my mother’s old ice-racing Sonett which ended up in my father’s stable after the divorce. However, rusted out, pretty stock, and not unique, it had little redeeming value and I relented to letting it go to the junkyard. (Crushable pieces of my past.) Furthermore there was the ex-ice-racing Lotus Europa which had been converted to a vintage road-racer. If we hadn’t elected to sell it, that vehicle would’ve been a worthy museum piece. The question is, how many other people would like to see an ice-racing museum, and how many cars could get donated. Certainly would need to get the proper non-profit charity paperwork in place so car donators get tax write-offs for their contributions.

The other reason to go to the races was to scout out which cars were currently competitive, maybe even find one for sale. I shopped online for am ice-racer, with little success. Oh, a few possible projects, but nothing ready-to-go, with the required roll-cage, studded tires etc. Stuff that all takes time. I would like to dabble again, see how it goes. Plus a little current ice-racing would make getting a vintage-racing license easier, should I choose to take on the Elva-Porsche. (Another story for another day.) I’ve been out of it for decades, practically an old man now, but I have a hunch I’m still fast. Few years back, hopped in the racecar of my brother, a very experienced racer, at an ice-khana for a few hot laps, crushed his best time ice-cold, zero practice. Mere glance at the time sheet with a knowing smirk, before walking away. But, talk is cheap, it’s the doing of something that counts.

So this morning, I mapquested the race location, found it’s at the northern part of Mille Lacs, and what I had assumed was an quick jaunt turns out to be an hour-and-a-half drive each way. To stand around in the cold, probably bored out of mind, wondering what the hell am I doing there, watching a bunch of people I don’t know doing what I should be doing. I make a lousy spectator. So, I didn’t go. So much for doing. For now. Stay tuned?

I think I’ll head to the armory instead for a motorcycle swap meet. Maybe find some carb kits for my old BMW R80. Actually feels more like doing.

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January 6, 2013 · 2:22 pm

Neat

I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. Grandiose goals doomed to failure.

And January 1 is just another arbitrary day, not much unlike any other. Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays never seemed particularly unique to me either. Over-emphasizing certain days only seems to under-value other days. I think every day is special.

Not to say I don’t have resolutions, for I certainly do. However, they are not specific items in list-format, only to be pondered at the turn of a calendar. Rather, it is a frame of mind that permeates everything I do, every moment of every day.

Simply put, for the last several years, my goal has been to be a better man. Easy to remember, not always easy to do. A beautiful ambition, flexible as necessary; what is good for one context may not fit another. For example, being a good father has meant not always being the best at my career, or even personal relationships when tough choices had to be made. Life is a constant balancing act. Yet the aim persists…be a better man.

“Better” implies a continual effort to improve. I don’t say “best” because it’s a journey not a destination. And it is livable ambition not trying to be perfect. Nor can I ever say “okay I’m there” and become complacent.

I’ve made a substantial improvement in my fitness and obviously know I need to keep at it. Don’t need an annual resolution for that. I already know what I must do, it’s built in to the concept of better. I’ve certainly improved my attitudes and behavior, most notably dealing with anger and depression. I guess it took losing a 25-year marriage for me to take a hard look inward and identify problems. I may still be shy and socially awkward, but I seem to be better at making and keeping friends. Even relationship-wise, despite evidence to the contrary with my recent crash-and-burns, I know I have what it takes. Feel ready for a fresh start with the right girl. Just have to find her.

Lately, I identified and have been working on “neatness” as the better-man aspect most needing attention. “Neat” is a deceptively simple word. Covers a number of critical realms for me. Upfront it means personal cleanliness and hygiene. Duh. But neat also encompasses the fitness angle, being out-of-shape appears slovenly, the antithesis of neat. Neat also includes housework. Another duh. But I want to move beyond cleanliness with a decorating style that shouts neat. Even when things are picked up, a room can somehow still appear random and messy. I’ve had enough messy, I want to be done with messy. I know life with kids and pets can be messy by default, but even so, I want neatness.

Neat also means organized, Traditionally a problem area for me. I could use organized as a keyword, but it just doesn’t cut it. For example, I could organize papers on a desk into distinct little process piles, but it still wouldn’t be neat. What is called for is a systems approach, with the old-fashioned theme of “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Organizational tools are called for, whether trays and files for paperwork, a closet system for clothes, or bins, shelves and cabinets for the garage.

Decluttering must go beyond mere organizational tools to a state-of-mind. With paperwork, try to handle each document once if possible, and be done with it. Don’t shuffle something from one back-burner to another indefinitely. Face it, deal with it, file it. Don’t let dirty dishes pile up in the sink to be dreaded. Wash ’em as you go. With clothes, take a hard look at what doesn’t fit right, what doesn’t get worn, cull and donate the surplus.

The garage is the biggest challenge, with a lifelong collection of parts and tools. Borderline hoarding. Too much like my father for comfort. Having to deal with all his crap has been an eye-opening experience. No, we don’t need old parts for 2-cycle Saabs we haven’t raced for over 30 years. The fine art of throwing things out. Applying this lesson to my own life. All in the name of neatness.

Also working on mental neatness. I have always been a little scatter-brained, with random ideas flying all over the place. And not smart enough to be considered an absent-minded professor. Never had an attention-deficit diagnosis, being from a time before such labels, but I suppose the shoe kind of fits. Sadly, the condition has seemed to worsen as I’ve gotten older. However, with carrying a little notebook and writing stuff down as I go, my focus has improved. Not trying to juggle so much mental clutter frees me to concentrate more, and live in the moment. On my journey to being a better man.

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Powder Dry

Couch-surfing my way through August, with more than a few places to stay, it turned out the most out-of-the-way location was the most enjoyable. Makes me regret not going there sooner.

For this public blog, I am going to confine my remarks to my own life and thoughts, and try to leave my host out of it.

For comfort level and fitting well with a pre-existing family, I’m reminded of my California experience. But, in California, I learned being a surrogate family member isn’t quite the same as truly belonging. Like “Alice” on the “Brady Bunch,” she may be treated like family, but she’s still the help. And while my quasi-relationship with California-dream-girl was quirky fun, it was not as fulfilling as a genuine reciprocal relationship. I pulled the pin in California before giving things a chance to run their course, and I daydream about what might’ve evolved, but in the end, I must admit things probably wouldn’t have improved, I would’ve remained frustrated.

And I learned even more about trying to pound a square peg in a round hole from my Angel experience. Star-crossed lovers are fascinating in the abstract, not so fascinating in the trenches. Listening better and being smarter. If I hear the words “just friends,”  “I don’t think of you that way,” or the blunt Angel classic, “you disgust me,” it’s time to let go and move on.

I am proud of myself for keeping my powder dry about my attractive host during the entire stay. Proof I am listening better. Not just controlling the things I say or do, but exercising control over the emotions behind the behavior. Bruce Lee paraphrase (from Tao?): control emotion or it may control you.

Diedre starts school on Tuesday and we move back to St. Cloud anew. A new chapter begins and one short but sweet chapter closes.

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