Sunday, July 31, 2005

Thinking Inside the Box

I've always been kind of a high energy guy. Back when I was a kid, Ridlin wasn't an option. Parents and teachers had to be a little more creative. What follows is the story of how Mrs. Nolan, my 2nd grade teacher, brought order back to her classroom. Well, she thought it worked.
There was this kid, Todd; he was my high school’s valedictorian in 1992, thanks to Mrs. Nolen's intervention back in 1982. Todd and I were best friends back then. We didn't hang out much away from school, because I lived way the hell outside of town and his family was nuts. His dad made him memorize the Periodic Table of Elements in the 3rd grade. He was always under a massive amount of pressure to achieve. I, well uh.....I wasn't.
I think he liked to hang with me because there were no consequences. If we got caught fucking off, I always took the heat. Of course he wasn't doing anything wrong....he was Todd. I didn't mind. Even at that age, I think I knew that me standing in the corner of the classroom holding a two foot tall stack of dictionaries wasn't going to cause a tsunami at home. Todd on the other hand would be in some real shit, for sure. So that's how it went. We raised hell, I took the blame when we got caught, and he did his homework.
Eventually, Mrs. Nolan started to realize that I was dragging Todd down. Something had to be done before he was pulled to the dark side, so she moved us to opposite sides of the room. It slowed me down; but I took it as a challenge. Soon I was just causing chaos all the way across the room by sending Todd notes and funny stick figure drawings. Now I had the whole class involved, because I had to psst, PSST! Until someone would reach for the note and pass it along. She tried to cut my wings by putting the fear of the paddle into every other kid in the room. Soon, no one would even acknowledge me when I tried to pass a note. I was forced to stand up and personally walk my notes and witty stick figure drawings across the room, and hand them to him saying:
"Here you go Todd, check out this funny cartoon of Mrs. Nolan wearing a Daisy Duke out fit." in a voice loud enough for her to hear, just so she would know that I could not be defeated.
Mrs. Nolan wasn't some fluffy first year teacher. She'd been teaching for like 126 years. Like a soldier that had been through many, many years of trench warfare, she was not going to be beaten by the games of a little boy. Back then, teachers had a lot more freedom to control the educational arena than they do today. Today's teachers are too busy with lawsuit happy parents, and mandatory testing to have any real impact in their student’s lives. Hell nowadays, teachers should be more scared of the students.
Mrs. Nolen's husband owned a local appliance store. I imagine them sitting in the living room of their little ranch style home at night, discussing my issues while on a commercial break from HEE HAW.
"Damn it just put the little bastard in a box and ignore him! I'm sick of hearing about it. Get me another Bud while your up, will ya."
One day, after a failed attempt to pass a note, she came into the room with a big refrigerator box. As I sat at my desk, she lifted up the box and placed it over my desk.
"Every time you disrupt my class, you will spend 1 hour in this box." she told me.
There was a square hole in the front of the box, just big enough for me to see her and the chalkboard. In my box, I knew immediately that I would spend a lot of time there. If my field of vision was limited, so was hers. By the end of the first day, I had little spy holes on all sides of the box. I could observe the entire classroom without her even knowing. I was always trying to think of ways to get put in the box.
By the end of the first week, I had the inside of my box decorated with all kinds of pictures and drawings. I could hit anyone with a spitball, and not be suspected. I could take little naps and not be disturbed. It was, without a doubt, the coolest place in the school.
I was sure not to mention my happy hole to my mother, who would have come to the school raising holy hell. She would have put a stop to the box very quickly. I think that semester was the happiest time of my elementary years.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Spinning Through Life

A thousand years ago, back around 1994, I was a traveling' round the states killing time and brain cells. While engaged in countless nefarious doings and happenings, I got to see and do some real cool shit. Everything from traveling under an alias across the west coast while avoiding prosecution in my home state, to hanging with hippies in the swamps of Florida. One of the first things I learned was that there is a lot of pain and misery on this planet. I've seen some of the worst USA has to offer. It is all far, far out weighed by the really good people you meet when you are lost in the deepest sludge at the bottom of the pits of despair.

I've had people give me their last quarter. People who were no better off than me, giving up their next 2 meals. We all lived on Raman then, so at 10 cents a pack, a quarter could go a long way. Some of the best times were had at the worst of times. My wife and I met up with a trucker in Iowa once named Wendell. He drove us across a bit of the midwest and dropped us at a truckstop in Desmoines or some such armpit of a place.

Wendell was the personification of a 'good-ol-boy'. He didn't have any motives at all. He was just doing a nice thing for a couple of kids who needed a ride to wherever. He talked about his family and his job. He listened to our stories and was simply a hell of a guy. I think he was from Missouri. Along the way, Dawn played a couple songs on a harmonica, and Wendell loved them all. He said that he had always wanted to learn to play the harmonica.

When we got to a point where he was turning toward home, and we were continuing east, he looked for a safe place to let us out. As we came in to a truckstop, he put out a call on his CB in hopes of seeing us get a ride he could feel good about. Most of the replies were from those fuckertrucker types. You know the ones. The sleazeball assholes who drive cross country spreading STDs all the way home to their wives. Finally a sane and stable voice came over the speaker. We met the guy and he seemed OK. Before we left him, Dawn gave Wendell her harmonica.

The guy we rode with next got us all the was to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His name was Renegade. That's all we knew him as. He was another Wendell type guy. A friend for life in ten minutes, and his a story in his own right.



Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Upon the wings of....well.....chickens.

photo credit to Mrs. Denotsko
Growing up in the country is not as boring as one would think. It takes longer that growing up in the city; but the journy is one hell of a lot of fun. You are forced to find entertainment for your self. There are no malls, or movie theaters, or those video arcades the kids love so much. There are no neighbors to playwith or harrass or set on fire. More on the fire thing some other time, maybe. Let me check the statute of limitations first.

Well, as I was getting to, you just have trees, fields, hills, and firearms to keep your self buisy. All of which can be employed in one way or another for personal amusement, and/or injury. Some of us were really lucky though. The truly blessed among us had chickens. Chickens may seem like odd fair for young boys; but don't jump to conclusions. I wasn't that bored. Not until puberty at least. JUST KIDDING :)

Back to the story now.

I was always facinated with flight. I'm sure many young, ignorant boys thought they could fly by jumping off the garage roof holding a kite, or umbrella. Many, many days of my youth were spent doing this. As a kid on a farm learns after some experimentation, is that you can fly a lot farther by jumping from the barn loft instead of a garage. You also get the bonus of a fluffy pile of hay to land in.

One day my father was sitting on the porch swing disposing of some unwanted beer. He'd been watching me for a while, jumping from the loft. I would run at top speed and launch myself from the loft window like Icarus on methamphetemines. I would land with a flop in the hay and immediately grab my kite and dash around the side of the barn. Emerging from the loft again a few minutes later. My father knew from his own childhood traumas that you just couldn't really gain any altitude with the equivalent of a parchute. A boy would eventually get hurt trying. He was always concerned with my safety.

I heard him calling me from a few hundred yards away. Never willing to keep my pop waiting, I rushed across the open terrain between us. Dodging, along the way, the psychotic goat that chased me with a butt hungry animal lust in its eyes every time it caught sight of me. As I launched my tiny frame over the barbed wire fence, snagging a nipple ever so slightly, my dad bust into laughter. It was like terrets syndrom, that laughter. Every time my father saw me in danger, he would burst out laughing. He just couldn't cope with the stress of it.

Once I had recovered from the fence and goat, he offered my this proposition.
"Go get me another beer, and I'll tell you how to fly without killing yourself."
OK! Right fucking on Daddy-O. The Wright brothers could have only wished for a fountain of knowlege like my dear old dad to drink from.
It took a few tries to get the beer. They kept hitting his hand half empty. I still can't figure it out, they were full when I got them from the fridge....but when they got to him, they were half gone. That must be why he was trying to get rid of them. Leaky cans. Eventually, he got a beer he was satisfied with, and I got my gold nugget of countryboy genious.
"Just run and catch some chickens, and tie their feet to a broomstick." he says.
"You crazy? Have you ever tried to catch chickens on 5 acres of open field? You fucking wacko old bastard. I'm 9 years old! I've got better shit to do with my time."I thought very, very, very quietly deep inside my brain. To the rest of the world, it sounded like, "REALLY!? HOW MANY CHICKENS WOULD I NEED OH GREAT AND WISE BUDDHA?"
"I did it with six; but you're a little lighter than I was. You could probably do it with just four."
BEEBBEEP!!! ZIP FUCKING TANG FOLKS. I was moving before he could even finish the
sentence. NASA couldn't reach the speeds I was hitting. "I'm gonna fly!!!!!!!"
I spent the rest of the day collecting supplies.
  • 1 broomstick
  • 4 chickens
  • 1 roll of tape (I didnt that string would create a very secure bond, so I got electrical tape instead. Safety First.)
By the time I had caught 4 chickens, the sun was moving toward sunset. I spent some time behind the barn, where mom couldn't see me, taping chickens to the stick. I had discovered that roosters could be quite brutal, so I went with hens in my final design. When the construction was complete, I went to ask my father to look it over and make sure my flier was built correctly. I found him in the garage changing oil or something. He assured me that he didn't need to inspect it. He trusted my skills. He then handed me his motorcycle helmet and wished me the best of luck. As I ran from the yard, he called after me, reminding me to call if I was far from home when the chickens stopped to roost, and he would come to get me in the truck.
I stood in the loft window. I was, for the first time, looking up instead of down. I was trying to map a route around the trees and power poles, so I could reach cruising altitude without obstruction. Seemed clear enough. I could see that Dad had left the garage and was on the front porch to see the show. Is presence gave me confidence. His never yeilding concern for my safety always reassured me when I was about to attempt to bend the laws of physics . The sweat trickling from under the helmet cooled my neck as I stepped back from the opening.
After a few minutes of soothing, the disguntled chickens were ready for their trip into history. As stood in the center of the loft, holding the chicken flier, I could see my father on porch. He was leaning with his elbows on the rail, a beer in one hand, a cigarrett in the other. The sun was starting to set behind him, turning the sky the ominous shade of a fresh bruise.
Always lost in a vast world of geekdom, I started the countdown. I was picturing my self sitting alongside Chuck Yeager and Buzz Aldrin in a dusty bar reliving the glory of our deads.
7 rotate chickens into launch position
5 face the door
2 I start to run, 5 feet of chicken stick in my hands
As I launched through the door, both ends of the 5 foot long stick struck the sides of the 4 foot opening, snapping the flier in the middle. I had jumped with all my strength and extended my legs behind me like Superman. As I flew through space, I could see my dad stand fully erect with a jolt. The extra weight of the helmet pulled my head toward the ground like a giant electromagnet had been swithed on beneath me. I was racing toward the ground at a rate equal to my speed away from the loft window. My mind was quickly trying to calculate my trajectory. The human mind is capable of amazing mathmatical acheivements. In less than .0026 seconds I knew that my projected landing area would be exactly 6 feet 4.5 inches beyond the 'sweet spot' of pillowy, life sustaining hay in the center of the pile under the window. My world was like a watercolor painting in a blender. I twisted and contorted my body in an effort to, somehow, reverse my path of travel and go back in the window.
As the planet came back into existance, I could hear my father laughing as the goat swooped in for the kill. He was in total panic over the outcome of my flight. He may have peed himself too.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Of man eating rabbits and such...

When I was a kid, my dad would take me out walking around the countryside on slow, boring days. We would hunt mushrooms (the regular flavor not the ones that you discover later in life), shoot cans & fenceposts, skip rocks, build rodent snares..... In this way I was taught all the survival skills my father had to join the army to learn.

One one particularly nice fall day, we were walking along a small ravine, more of a ditch between corn fields really; but being about eight feet deep, it was a ravine to a small boy. It was littered with the various signs of our modern, disposable society; old broken washing machines, car tires, handleless buckets, and the occasional bathtub. At one point in our trek, we came across a piece of heating duct leaning against the side of the ditch so that one end was at the bottom of the trench, and the other stuck up to about my waist level.

As we approached, a rabbit ran into the low end of the duct. Never ones to pass up an opportunity to capture an animal with our bare hands, we quickly descended on opposite ends of the tube. Dad at the bottom, and me at the top. The duct, about ten feet long, was too long to just reach in and grab the rabbit. We tried banging on the sides in an effort to scare it out. Unfortunately, the rabbit was not swayed. He stood fast inside the tunnel. We tried poking it out with a stick. No luck.

Standing there thinking, my pop lit a cigarette. He always did this when there was deep thinking or heavy lifting to be done. As the fire flared in front of his face, he got an idea. We could smoke it out. He began stuffing his end of the duct with dry leaves and grass. As he was doing this, he told me what my part of the plan was. I would stand at the high end, waiting. As the rabbit ran out, trying to escape the smoke and fire, I could simply grab it. It sounded pretty plausible to me. I could just grab it. I could just grab it with my hands. I would have to be a complete idiot to be way out there with something like a net....So I would just use my hands.

As Dad started the fire, I stooped down over the opening, waiting for lunch. Dad fanned the grass and leaves to help it heat up, poking more dead grass in on top of the fire. The extra grass starved the fire of oxygen, creating thick choking smoke, which he then blew up the chimney of the near vertical piece of duct. Yeah....That fucking rabbit was toast.

He warned me that the rabbit would most likely be moving pretty fast as it ran from the tube, so I should lean in a little closer to the opening. That way it wouldn't have any escape path around me. As I leaned in closer, I thought I saw a grin flash across my dad's face.

YEAH. I thought. He's excited too. I leaned in as close as I could.

By now smoke was coming out my end of the duct. Any minute now....You're fucking as good as dead Buggs.

The smoke was stinging my eyes now. I could hear the rabbit start to move around now. Surely he was choking even worse than I was. And getting pretty hot too. My eyes and lungs were on fire now. The end of the tube faded in out of my vision now as I tried to squeeze the tears from my eyes.

Dad had retired back a few feet from the fire. To better see the capture.

Suddenly, it seamed like the entire world screamed out . I could hear the screeching, squealing, fluffy little ass on fire sound of a rabbit in flight for it's life. As the flames and smoke dealt its worst to us both, the rabbit made its move. The only sound I could hear was Buggs' long, razor sharp, predator toenails sliding and screeching up the tube like Freddy Kreuger's knife-fingers along a chalkboard. As it moved up the duct, it was constantly sliding back down. Only to increase the paralyzing terror in both of our hearts. I knew it was coming. I leaned in closer. My eyes and lungs were on fire. Now I could smell burning fur. I could see its eyes coming at me now.


BAMMM!!!! It hit me so hard in the chest that I was thrown to my back. The rabbit, still running, sliced my chest, neck, face and head with its nails as it used me as a springboard to life. It didn't even slow down as it passed.

It took Dad a few minutes to breath. He was so distraught at my predicament, that he burst into some kind of hysterical, fear induced laughter. It was the strangest thing. Like hysterical blindness I suppose. Out of concern for my safety and well being, he could not function. Sometimes, when panic sets in, a person can do the strangest things to cope with fear.

My dad laughed. Hard.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


OK... Earliest memory....I grew up kind of white trash, for those who don't already know me. We never had much money, and it was the country, so things were pretty funny sometimes. In hindsight, some would say I should be ashamed of the way I was raised. I don't think so. It made me who I am today. Who am I to complain.

I was in the bathtub with my sisters. I was probably only 2 or 3. I remember my sisters all screaming like the room had suddenly burst into flames. They were scared. Panic set in, and they all ran from the room. Leaving me there, alone. I didn't know why they ran away. I wasn't scared at all.

After a minute or two, my mom came for me. There I was, playing with my turd like a toy boat. Not a care in the world. Happy. Content. Country as fuck.....And liking it.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Get set....

I think the 'theme' of this thing will be my rambling accounts of random memories as they come into my head. They definitely won't follow any sort of chronological order. There's a good chance that they won't be well written, or for that matter be very interesting. In the end, about all we can be sure of is that they will be posted here, by me, for the world to read if they feel so inclined.

Memories are funny, subjective little things. After all, they're just a fancy arrangement of neurons in our brains. To expect every one present at an event to remember it the same way would be like expecting all snowflakes to be identical. So, with that in mind, I will always try to ask those present at the remembered happenings to offer their take on 'how it all went down'. In that way, you the reader, can make the call on whether I'm full of shit or not.

A large number of my 'memories' are clouded by drugs, alcohol, stress, lack of sleep, and various combinations of them all. So a little input from bystanders and witnesses could be of some help. Many of the folks present at these happenings are no longer available for comment; but I'll do my best to bring you the most comprehensive coverage of ALL the things in my head. As soon as they can be sorted into some sort of legible grouping of words, they will be posted here for your review.

Please stand by.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

On Your Marks....

Time will tell if I have the dedication to make regular posts to this thing. I can make no guarantees. One good thing about this is the ever trusted spell check feature. Can honest, hardworking Americans live without spell check?

Well, I guess if anyone is going to ever read this, they might wonder who the fuck I am, or claim to be. I am most definately, with out much doubt, me.