Thursday, April 29, 2010


The kind of girl that could make you an hour late to a Van Morrison concert and not be angry with her.

The kind of girl who could make you laugh with just a look.

The kind of girl that never forgot what it was like to be a goofy kid.

The kind of girl that could fly just by wishing it.

Dominique once told me that she was proud of me for my messy car, because when I opened the door and something fell out, it was inevitably a book. We met through a mutual friend and she came to be like a sister to me in a rough part of my life. When love fled, she was there to talk. When dad had his stroke, she put her arms around me.

I don't remember much from my wedding, but I recall scanning the church before Britton walked up the aisle and seeing Dom's face with that million dollar smile beaming at me. And that was the last time I ever saw her.

So when I found a box of old pictures today and started going through them, I was amazed to think that I'd let such a beautiful person get away. And she was truly beautiful, inside and out.

Oh the ways we laughed.

Then and Now



Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Mandate

This afternoon I planned on stopping by the Nashawannuk Gallery to drop off the rest of my rent for the new apartment. (by the way, my bathroom is just above the sign that says "ART" that sadly is no longer there.) They had closed a little early, so I ran upstairs for a second to just look around and think how I was going to arrange the place. While I was fooling around, it hit me that I might have mail.

I ran downstairs and sure enough there was a letter sticking out of my mailbox with four stamps on it. I love getting envelopes with a ton of stamps on them. Since there are only a couple of people that know my new address, I had an idea who wrote it.

Pulling it out of the box, I saw the return address and it confirmed my suspicions. I walked back upstairs and opened it. Inside I noticed the back of what was unmistakably a check. I figured it was $20 or so to get a little something for the new apartment. The check dropped out on the counter and I began reading the letter. The tone of the letter was such that after the first couple of sentences I flipped the check over to look at it.

Take the amount that you would think would be too much to accept, then multiply that by a factor of ten.

I just sat on the floor. I didn't know what else to do.

So I read the letter through three or four times... sitting on the kitchen floor of my new, empty apartment.

I am sending you this check to help you find some peace in this 'Summer of Joe'...

That's how it began. It went on to list a few stipulations: Not to tell anyone the origin of the money, to include special things for the kids.

It was too much. It was more than too much.

You need to refocus and dig deep for those things which you deem most important in life...

And after a while I realized I had to accept it. Because with the money came a mandate. This money is an investment in me. By accepting it, I'm taking on a responsibility to do something good with it; actually to do many good things with it. Because every dollar I spend, I must spend consciously. It will only be used to bring joy or laughter to my life,  to someone else that I love, or further my goal of being a writer.

So on the way home, I stopped and bought a brand new Moleskine. With it, I will record every expenditure, both as a ledger of the balance, and the circumstances under which the money was dispensed. 

The Summer of Joe has a budget and an investor.

Final Words

Kleine Opfer müssen gebracht werden!

(Small sacrifices must be made!)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Love Song


Cecil: Your mama thought you were golden so we named you after yellow flowers and corn. This is you here...
[cuts some purslane from garden]
Cecil: ...pretty, golden purslane.
Pursy Will: Purslane's really a weed, you know. A neighbor told me when I was 9 and I ran over his tomato plants. He said all gardeners hate purslane.
Cecil: Yeah, and dandelions. Doesn't stop kids from making wishes on 'em.

A Love Song for Bobby Long

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Strikes & Gutters

  "How are you doing?"
It's not an easy question to answer sometimes. When your mentor, your father figure, your friend, asks you in a public place and your life isn't quite where you want it to be, you might not have a ready response.
"You know what they say... strikes and gutters, Barry. Strikes and gutters."
 Maybe I've been watching too many Coen brothers movies lately. But because he's all those things to you... the reason he's all those things to you, he understands.

Wednesday night I had dinner and a long talk with Barry Moser. For those of you that don't know, Barry is a well known illustrator, an extraordinary wood engraver and a maker of fine press books. But that's a poor description. He is, above all, a teacher. He was a Methodist minister early on in his life, but that didn't last long. Soon enough, he realized that often people have difficulty reconciling their scripture and their prejudices.

We spoke for a long time... of art and politics... of the sacred and profane. He let me in on something that I'd guess he's told fewer people than he could count with one hand. He told me of his plans for his 70th birthday as well. It's something that is at once glorious and juvenile and makes me wish I could be there to see it. I have a hard time believing he will really be seventy years old this Fall.
"I began the Bible fifteen years ago. I don't know if I have another fifteen years left in me."
He often jokes that he's mortal and won't always be here. I don't buy it.
"I'm cutting your fucking head off and freezing it just like Joe DiMaggio's," I replied.
 I aspire to be like Barry. I don't mean to be a celebrated illustrator. I have neither the talent or skill for that. But to be a man like him. He is not perfect, but it is in his flaws that I find comfort. The mistakes that he's made and his stumbles along the way that remind me that it's just part of the game. Like the ghost of George Plimpton said, "Show a little grace if you should fall."

The evening wound down. We walked out and stood on the porch in front of the restaurant a little while.
"If you ever need anything, you let me know," I told him. 
I say that a lot to people, but it rarely carries the same weight as when I say it to him. I've only ever had one chance to truly do something for him; to give a little bit back for all of the things that he's done for me. We both stood there and teared up a bit and promised to see each other soon.

Walking down the street in the dark I felt I'd been baptized.

Strikes and gutters.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Summer of Joe

Yeah, I know. Summer isn't here yet. But like George with his three months of severance pay, I'm going to make the most of this summer. Considering the place I'm starting, I'll have to begin now to get up to speed. Since I've already read a book from beginning to end, I figure I'm doing pretty well. I need to work on my frolf game, though.

I had to go through a little rōnin period. After the divorce and then the breakup with Bear, I was lost for a while. In part, it was not wanting to give up a good thing and... I guess the thought of moving on made me feel like I was saying I didn't really love her.  And even though the relationship was short in time, I did... and I still do.
English has no single word equivalent for the feeling. but the Portuguese... of course the Portuguese do.

Saudade: The love that remains. A vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist.
If that doesn't describe it, I don't know what does. Because it encompasses not only the feelings for Bear, but for those many things that I have lost over the years. My love for Arthur. The old Florida that is gone. And those things that I know will come into and leave my life in the future.

My forty years in the wilderness is done.

I'm reminded of the time that I dated the hippie from Gainesville that drove a VW Vanagon with butterflies painted on the hubcaps and macrame seat covers. I became a vegetarian for a little while and learned to slow down and appreciate things more. I knew from the beginning that things with her were not meant to last, so I took each day as an adventure.
And there are things that I learned from Bear that I'll take with me as well. I will still eat peanut butter with ice cream. It doesn't make me sad any more to think of it.

I'm making new friends. I was fortunate enough to have someone come into my life when I was down and needed somebody. A person with whom I shared little but a couple of mutual friends. A person that owed me nothing. As hard as it is for me to allow people in, to rely on anyone, I was given two gifts. Kindness and understanding. The two things I needed most right then. It allowed me to take a breath between waves. Maybe I was only treading water, but at least I wasn't drowning any more.

The Summer of Joe started this weekend with the kids. For some reason they wanted to hear Beatles songs, so we played them all weekend. There's nothing like singing 'Hey Jude' with kids and really hearing the words. It's a little hard to drive with tears in your eyes. We ate in diners and watched movies and we had fun. The first real fun I've had in almost two months.

I'd explain the Summer of Joe more, but I think the whole point of it is to defy explanation.

I will buy a truly expensive pair of Persols for the sun.

I will appreciate happy accidents, like having forgotten milk for the chocolate chip pancakes this morning and using water and sour cream instead. They were maybe the best pancakes that either the kids or I have ever eaten.

There will be day trips and camping... baseball games.

I'll remember to take the Five Things with me. And to use the pencil.

Just maybe there will be a trip overseas. I don't know if I can swing it financially, but as cheaply as I'm now living, it's a distinct possibility.

Most of all, I'll try to be me. I don't always like who I am, but I don't have any other choice but to live with me.


Friday, April 16, 2010

What would McQueen do?

He sure as hell wouldn't have sat around bitching and feeling sorry for himself. He would have accepted that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. And losing doesn't make you a loser.

I have a new mantra.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

For a moment... really do believe he can fly.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I looked at an apartment today that was recommended to me by a friend.

The previous tenant hasn't moved out yet and it's got a distinct Hoarders feel to it at this point. It's quirky and it's above a bakery, art gallery and ice cream shop. It's walking distance to the grocery store, staggering distance from a couple of bars, just down the street from the bike trail and at the foot of Mt. Tom.

And I kind of love it.
Most of all because I think I'll have the best neighbors I could ever imagine.

And out back...

 ...Nashawannuck Pond.

It's the kind of place where I think I can start over. A place to live simply, be surrounded by fantastic people and be me again.

Thank you Mo... thank you so much.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Lately I'm having hard days...

Lately I'm having hard days and I curse the night

Photo credit: David Owen