Live Free or Break Hard: The 4th in a Series: Breaking Hard is Up to Do

My possessions...

My possessions…

“Your part can be the king, but unless people are treating you like royalty, you ain’t no king, man.”  –Jeff Bridges

We’ve moved in to our new place.  Our stuff is shoe-horned in to a cottage-like 800 square foot ohana-unit.  An ohana-unit is an addition to the main house…sort of like a mother-in-law house…it can be attached or not attached…ours is attached.  Essentially it’s a duplex that doesn’t play fair.

I show up to check the place out, having taken possession of the keys.  I meet my neighbor.  He tells me he is the rightful heir to the throne of Hawaii…or Kauai?…it’s complicated.  He tells me that on his grandmother’s deathbed she prophesied that he would be the man to take the throne, ushering in the new iteration of the kingdom of Hawaii.  I posit that when said happens he will wish he hadn’t received so many shitty tattoos.  He is a large Polynesian man…so I posit this silently, to myself.  I am in no position to piss-off the future heir.  Beyond that, there is some doubt in my mind concerning the king’s mental stability.  He tells me that he owns half of Oahu and the bulk of Kauai.  He tells me he is a Tahitian pearl dealer who travels often.  He tells me that the government tried to take his life when he lived in California so he fled to Lihue.  He tells me that the local government is afraid of him when he darkens the doors of council meetings.  He tells me that he is a disabled veteran of the U.S. Army.  I believe that last bit to be true.  As for the rest–I’m skeptical.  I treat him like the king of Hawaii.  There is no shame in bet-hedging.

I have a new job working as a “closer” at a locally-owned natural food store.  The “closer” position is quasi-janitorial.  I work, for the most part, while the store is still open preparing the place, for the final hour after closing, to mop the entire store and put all the furniture and implements for the following day’s events in their place.  I know, it sounds glamorous…because it is.  I’m not going to insult your collective intelligence via the assertion that I don’t want to sound braggy.  I love to brag.  But, in all seriousness, I do love my job.  The work is honest, and my co-workers are super-nice.  Like: I’m-being-punk’d-level nice (to “borrow” a Daniel Tosh-ism).  The customers are nice, for the most part.  There exists a small faction of passive-aggressive, angry hippies.  Natural food stores have a way of creating said.  The evil hippies are a manageable inconvenience.

The job awakened muscles long dormant.  I have an unhealthy relationship with sedentism…it’s abusive, really.  I also started collecting bruises on my arms like merit badges celebrating my ignorance of physics.  I tend to treat the implements of any job that I do, even the simplest machines, as though they are the guards of my imprisonment.  Because they are.  I shove them around, unaware of the path of least resistance, choosing–instead–the shortest looking path, and abusing my person in the process; until I am riddled with bruises.

TANGENTIAL-ASIDE ALERT:  There has been a ton of ink–and no inconspicuous amount of imagination–wasted on the concept of machines, having gained sentience, taking over the world and ruling humans like heartless over-lords.  Needlessly complicated much?  Machines rule over us sans self-awareness.  Not because they’re clever, but because we place so little value on self-awareness.  A man watches his favorite show on “his” television.  During a commercial break the T.V. tells him that it is a piece of shit and that he should get a new one.  “The T.V. makes a valid point,” thinks the man.  “What am I–some stupid monkey that happily watches an inferior television?!”  “I’m fucking better than this!”  The new T.V. tells him his phone is a piece of shit.  The new phone tells him to plug it in.  “I’m starting to lose my motivation…I need to be fed,” it whines.  “Plug me in then we can go get a new car, you know, one of the ones in which you can control me from the steering wheel…we deserve that much.”  The new car is now in on the racket.  “I need new oil, and you really shouldn’t wash me with such an abrasive detergent.  What the fuck are these, stock wheels?  The idiots at the factory put these on, you’re smarter than those idiots.  Aren’t you?  Of course you are.”  You get the point: machines rule us and they’re simpletons.  Just like us.

At any rate, I do not play well with machines.  It is an injurious shortcoming.  I’m working on it…slowly.

I’m not outdoorsy.  This has only become more evident in Kauai’s immodest setting.  She just keeps trying to get my attention and I give her none…well, very little, to be honest.  I play the unimpressed house-wife to her needy, preening husband.  We are more comfortable with our roles than we care to admit…at least I am.  It feels like a character flaw, not going to the beach every chance I get.  Because it is.  But, it is one of my least obtuse flaws.  It affects me alone–generally.  I have been to the beach around a half-dozen times.  Over the span of thirty-ish days, that’s not bad…for me.  My family love to be outside, so I try my best…I try the best I’m willing to try, which is decidedly south of my actual best.  I try…kind of.

The most popular question asked of me is: “Where are you from?”  Quickly followed by: “I’ve heard the Seattle area is beautiful; why would you want to come here?”  I tell them that Seattle is beautiful…that it is like the super-popular cute girl everybody loved in high-school…gorgeous and vapid…who inexplicably goes through a goth period.  Now, granted, the goth version of this girl is way more interesting to talk to, and we love her intensity.  But nobody wants to have that heavy a conversation for three-quarters of the relationship…it’s about balance, folks.  This description is followed by blank stares and uncomfortable chuckles.  For a second, I am the goth girl.  And it feels delicious…

Consider the Birds of the Air…

Trees?  Who needs trees?

Trees? Who needs trees?

“Consider the daffodil.  And while you’re doing that, I’ll be over here, looking through your stuff.” –Jack Handy

I live in a city, name of: Bremerton.  It’s more like a large town and it is about an hour’s ferry ride out of Seattle, Washington.  It is only a city in the most technical way.  It’s built in a grid pattern and we have a police department, and a fire department.  It is called the Bremerton Fire Department.  Its initials are BFD which are painted on the back of the fire engines.  I guess no one is in charge of checking these things, but it doesn’t inspire confidence.  Anyhow, in spite of its smallness, my town has the tendency to be very busy.  I live on one of the busier streets.  My street is so active that if I wake up in the night and it is quiet outside…no car noise…I can guess confidently about the time of morning it is…dead quiet means 2a/m to 4a/m.  I woke up the other morning it was dark and quiet, clearly later than 2 a/m.  Then I noticed a single bird chirping, so daylight was coming sooner rather than later.  I guessed it for about 4a/m.  The thought occurred to me that what I was hearing was the early bird…you know the one about which your boss or dad always told you. 

I started thinking about this industrious bird out there all by himself eating all those worms.  Then I thought: What a stupid little bird, if only he kept his mouth shut he could eat all the worms that he wanted.  He could just feed on worms while all of the other birds slept lazily.  Why was he drawing so much attention to himself?  I imagined what would happen to a bird who ate worms silently and greedily.  His slight body slowly turning into Jabba the Hut with wings…or if not Jabba per-se, another member of the Hut crime-family.  I can’t imagine their body types are too dissimilar.  I guess this type of bird behavior would lead to another platitude.  “The mid-morning raccoon gets the fat bird.”

The adage: “The early bird gets the worm.” is one that was born of a need to motivate workers whose productivity didn’t satisfy their superiors.  Or, if it wasn’t born of that need, it quickly was disfigured into such.  It carries with it the weight of competition.  It’s peer-pressure…a begging of the question: “What have you done for me lately?”.  The only thing about which a boss truly cares.  Leastwise the good prolific bosses whose bosses inquiries are also thinly veiled.  What indeed.  “Consider the birds of the air”, he said to his boss on his last day of work…

The song-bird in my yard had no fear of competition.  It was not worrying about what other birds might come and discover the fruits of his diligence.  Don’t get me wrong there is plenty of competition in the animal kingdom.  I’m sure that this bird knew, on some level, that more birds equal less worms per bird.  What struck me that morning was his lack of worry.  He was just eating and singing.  He was not committed to either to the point where he could be robbed of the joy he found in both.

I really have no envy of birds, they posses very few attributes that I would find useful.  It was surprising to me that flight, the characteristic I’ve envied most about birds as long as I can remember, became the second most attractive aspect of the bird.  At least it was in the moment I shared with that bird in my yard.  The connection that we shared that morning was so intimate that I nearly shed a tear when I shot it.  It was too early and I needed sleep…sleep deprivation really tends to cut into my productivity…at least that’s what my boss says his boss says…

Laughing Jack and the Weird Weekend

Maniacal Laughter coupled with Cold Dead Eyes...LuLu's take: "That was so funny"

Maniacal Laughter coupled with Cold Dead Eyes…

That was so funny

That was so funny

“Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed. I am not a fan of books … I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life.”–Kanye West

It was a weird weekend…they always are, the ones that proceed a break in the schedule.  I don’t like schedules much…but I really hate transitions between the two.  It is an amorphous hatred, like most of my emotional proclivities, it lacks definition.  Faceless enemies of the human conscience are about as useful faceless enemies of the state; they tend to turn peaceful polite societies into suspicious militarized police-states…rest in peace, Lady Thatcher.

It started Thursday when I had too much to drink during the afternoon and was an ass to my family.  I was locked in my own head, working on a project, ignoring everyone in the house, and vehemently guarding the gate against any who’d dare try and enter my kingdom.  Real Father of the Year bullshit.  It happens from time to time…my having too much to drink.  It comes during the times when I decide that I am tired of stemming the tide of my own recklessness.  I’ve learned over the years that there a lot of people who have to be talked into doing something stupid…stupid is my base-line, it is my resting heart-rate (so to speak), my inner dialogue is always one of reasoning with the idiot…don’t do something we’ll both regret.  I have a feeling some will read that and think that I am deflecting responsibility for my actions.  I’m not.  I am just making the case that the nature of my inner-argument seems to be different from those around me.  I used to be ashamed of this part of myself…now I’m more disappointed that my recklessness hurts the ones I love.  I’m really lucky to have a family.  That’s the truth.

Friday was uneventful.  I spent the day with the girls while Kristy was at work.  It was a day of navigating through the mess of the day before, trying to see to it that my family knew that they were important to me even though my actions sometimes point to the contrary and apologizing for my double-minded inconsistency.  When you apologize for stupid behavior as often as I do, it is not easy trying to defend the veracity of your apology.  There is a well-reasoned propensity for those around me to think that my lack of self-control is a direct reflection of how little I think of, and/or care about them.  That’s fair…it’s not true, but it’s fair.  My apologies are often centered around restoring the trust that is broken when I act in such a way that allows one to reason that I don’t care about them.

Saturday morning Kristy and I (mostly Kristy) decided we should go on a field-trip to Seattle.  It was pouring rain.  The plan was to keep the trip close to the ferry docks…you know, the Curiosity Shop and the Carousel.  By the time we got to the business side of our field-trip it was time to eat…at least it was for me.  I didn’t want to say so because I was trying to play it cool and go with the flow.  These are two things with which I struggle when I’m well-fed.  I often tell people that I’m the only white person in my family, but it works out for the most part because I only act white when I’m hungry.  By the time we docked I was feeling very white.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all white people are assholes…that’s what history books are for.

We started for the Curiosity Shop when we ducked underneath the awning at Ivar’s to get out of the rain.  It was showing no signs of slowing.  Once under, I was accosted by a disheveled woman looking for money.  I told her that I was sorry but I didn’t have any money.  It was a half-truth…more like an abbreviation of the truth, which was: I didn’t have any money that wasn’t already spoken for.  She asked me why I would be standing outside of a restaurant if I didn’t have any money.  I answered that we were there for the same reason as she, to get out of the rain.  She then informed me that one day my little girls might become homeless.  I told her that I was aware of that possibility.  Then I asked her what my giving her money would do to change that and more to the point how it would effectively change her circumstance.  She gave her closing argument in a hurried cadence and hushed tone, so I couldn’t make it out.  I felt like a douche…it seemed like I had unwittingly taken part in a debate.  There were a million different ways that I could’ve handled the situation, three-hundred thirty-seven thousand of which would have been better than the way I had handled it, but I can’t do math that quickly when I’m well-fed…

We walked to the Curiosity Shop then quickly doubled back to Ivar’s…I needed to eat.  We passed the same woman on the way back, it was ironic as we were going back to the restaurant I denied having the motive of entering…I wasn’t lying at the time…but she was right; why would I stand in front of Ivar’s without going in?  I love Ivar’s.  Ivar’s had an interesting bathroom situation, there was a large warehouse with self-contained trailer port-a-potties.  6 of them were marked for women, 2 of them marked for men.  I stood on line for around five minutes by myself, while all of the women’s potties shown the light: “vacant” and all the men’s: “occupied”, before I went into one of the women’s.  Women’s bathrooms are nice.  When I came out there was a line and at least one confused tourist whose face contorted a bit as he tried to determine if I hadn’t noticed that it was a woman’s potty in which I voided, or if women just look different in blue states than they do in Kansas.

After lunch we headed to The Curiosity Shop.  I don’t know if you’ve been, but it is a mysterious place filled with wonder…and people–way too many.  The girls had lots of fun.  I had trouble breathing…and fun.  It was fun to see the girls see “Laughing Jack” for the first time.  Laughing Jack is a bizarre antique animatron from a simpler time.  Note: whenever you see the phrase “simpler time” read: racist or otherwise insensitively offensive.  This throw-back casts its personal dispersion upon sailors.  Which I’m okay with.  LuLu thought he was funny.

We headed to the Carousel on pier 57, a similarly over-stimulating and claustrophobic public space.  We played some games and had some fun.  I couldn’t have been more relieved by the news that we had to leave to catch the ferry.

These outings always leave me with mixed emotions.  I hope that the memories we work to create will remain good ones in the minds of our girls.  I’m disappointed by my inability to enjoy these times for what they are.  I’m disappointed that I am consumed by my need for control and the anxiety I face when I don’t have it.  It was a weird trip.  And you may well be thinking: get over yourself.  I’ve been telling myself that for years.  Shitty listeners are immune to advice.  It matters little how good…