Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Oh Well

"You're slipping out of sight," he says packing away his guitar while cocking his head back at me.

"No I'm not ... I'm just not doing stuff I used to do."

"Why not?" he asks, now standing to face me.

Dressed in a black denim shirt, blue jeans and Cowboy boots, while I'm wearing a blue tee shirt with the words "Three Sheets to the Wind" under a red and white sailing flag, shorts and flip-flops.

"Three Sheets to the Wind" is America's best Yacht Rock Band and I wear it regularly to Bar Church.

"I'm doing other things now," I answer.

"Doesn't seem like it," he snorts.

Shrugging my shoulders I stare pass him through the dark bar out the open door at people rushing down the main drag full of Surf Shops and bars towards the sounds of crashing waves.

"People miss it," he interrupts and I see he's staring directly at me, hands on hips as if he's preparing to draw imaginary pistols.

"Yeah, well," I shrug, "I still write and do things but ..." I trail off in lost thoughts.

"When?" he demands. "What things?"

He makes me tired ... the bone weary exhaustion when the supply of giving is dangerously low, coupled with the sad grasp most take without responding in kind.

I've just finished setting up for worship in a Bar, moving tables and chairs, lugging heavy speakers into place, getting the sound system to work, managing the needs of those who came to play, put a service together on the fly, sang from the heart, greeted every individual attending, told stories meant to uplift the listeners, tore down the stage and put everything back it was.

Worship's over and I've already punched out but he's wanting me to continue ... on behalf of others ... for him.

It's been this way most of my life ... making things happen for everyone else, which is righteous and Holy, but never considering the cost of how much they took from me.

Well," I sigh. "I write when I feel like it these days with little thought of owing it to anyone ... and I do the things I enjoy and try really hard to stay away from things I don't."

His face is red, full of consternation and perplexity as he continues to stare.

"Oh well," I finally say, embrace him goodbye, give a kiss to Mary who's helped and stroll outside into the warmth of a sunny day to make my home.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Relic of the Past

Sometimes the past slips though the present and finds you.

Opening a book, the lone unread one by a favorite author Morris West, the stub of an airline ticket falls in my lap.

Seat 7-A on Delta Airlines was mine in April heading to St. Martin.

I don't know which year, the ticket doesn't say but in April I was heading to meet Conner for a "Boy's Trip" when we'd hook up with our Caribbean friends for a week.

I examine the stub as though a relic of ancient history, proof of another time ... another life.

I was flying high in those days ... first class to every major American City ... the head of a ground breaking work ... sought after public speaker ... political manipulator for the common good ... author ... advisor to public and personal problems ... constantly in the News ... and because I'd accumulated a gazillion frequent flyer miles, and money wasn't much of an issue, I traveled wherever I wanted.

From the outside looking in, I was the epitome of success ... a rock star demanded by many ... a free empty-nester ... popular and young ... high on a mountain of accomplishments with my feet firmly planted in the sand beside the Ocean.

Inside looking out was a burning cauldron of misery ... an exhausted actor fed up with the part ... lonely in a marriage gone to shit ... out of the passion that drove me ... painfully aware there was nothing else to achieve so the desire to prove 'em wrong replaced by the sad reality of boredom.

The ticket's from seven or eight years ago and I'm no longer resemble the person who purchased it.

Most everything from those days are long gone and, while I sometimes miss the convenience of arrogance, I'm now on a new journey far away from the world of "making it big."

I am passionately in love with my wife ... work hard at understanding the three girls I got with her as they recoil in horror at me ... redefine the relationship with our adult kids ... hopelessly dote on our new baby girl ... have a few good friends ... and there's limited travel, few demands primarily because I no longer do the things I used to, lack of funds but a firm conviction that I no longer have to prove anything to anyone.

There are times when I wish I had the good things from my life then for the one I live now but ... while it was a Hell of a ride, there's no desire to go back.

As strange as it's been, life really has been good to me so far ... even the bad shit had some silver linings.

In fact, crazily and unexpectedly, without lots of stuff, life's better than it's ever been.

Grabbing the book, I stroll towards our baby Che's kicking in her seat making mobiles dance, pull my shirt off throwing it on a chair, grab my Seltzer and lime and drop the relic from the past in the trash on the way outside on a glorious sunny and warm January day.

Monday, January 9, 2017

How Does Holy Happen?

I was at Church yesterday but I definitely wasn't into it.

Given my druthers I wouldn't have gone but being the minister complicates things and I felt obligated ... which is a horrible motivation ... yet ... physically anyway ... I'm there.

Lots of clergy dread Sunday mornings but know they can't say it for fear of losing their job and, let's be honest, they're paid good money to stand in front of a crowd and speak on God's behalf.

Who else gets to be the center of the Universe for 20 minutes once a week?

Okay, musicians do ... but musicians have no idea how much they're getting paid whereas most Preachers know in advance.

Anyway, standing there leading Church, my mind's elsewhere.

It's cold as Hell outside and I'd rather be on a much warmer island in smaller latitudes ... I'm wearing way too many clothes ... it was tough leaving Che, our 10 week old baby after laying her down and even tougher not crawling back in bed with Sarah ... cold boat drinks on a hot Beach would nice ... why am I here?

The last musing's not cosmic as in "What is my purpose in the Universe?" but specifically local ... "What in God's name has kept me on this clump of sand for three decades when there are other islands where I'm dying to live?"

A small but friendly, almost excited, congregation stumble inside the Bar, bringing bags and baskets of food to spread on the Pool table and the hungry come followed by islanders and tourists unconcerned about time.

Guest musicians arrive and today's Band is born forcing me to understand who wants to play what, assemble some order, occasionally manage oversized egos and back into whatever my contribution will be in the service.

Many Sundays I stick whatever sermon I prepared back in my pocket because someone else has something they feel more important that day.

It's cool.

I don't try to plan the service ... I ride whatever wave it is that day ... sometimes it's a massive swell crashing holiness everywhere but it can also be the tiniest of barely discernable Ocean hiccups.

The only constant is every Sunday morning someone sees the lit neon Budweiser and Coors signs and rush into the middle of Church to order a round.

The look of disappointment on their faces is heartbreaking as they leave the service.

We begin and I fumble the first chords and mangle the lyrics cause I'm wondering who's going to show up next Sunday ... if anyone.

Worship unfolds.

Songs are sung ... people clap ... prayers mumbled ... stories told ... smiles flash ... and the hungry keep eating.

When it's over I'm tired and want to hurry home.

"Hey man," he says embracing me with moist eyes, "thank you for that! It's just what I needed today ... It's been so hard ... thank you" and his voice cracks ... and something in my heart does too.

How does Holy happen?

I have no idea.

But when it does, it's sure as Hell worth the headaches.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Restlessly Wandering

Watching huge lemons drop from an abundantly blessed tree, a light Ocean breeze carries salt through the Confederate Jasmine covering the railing of the Beloved Back Deck.

The pink bloom of a Petunia stands at attention in the flower pot beside my outdoor writing desk.

A yellow sun plays hide and seek behind white wisps of stringy clouds.

A few trees sadly stand naked of leaves and overshadowed by the evergreens.

Bare feet dangle from the chair draped with a red "Club Orient" beach towel hiding ugly cushions raising me to the proper height to stare at the computer screen streaming "Alice Cooper."

Wearing only black running shorts, I'm trying to catch rays on the second day of January.

I know ... it's a dichotomy.

So was the year.

While I worked with the dying, Sarah and I were given new life with our baby girl, Che.

The world lost many I came to love but it gained too with her birth and babies born to our friends.

Back inside the work environment I was a stranger in a strange land in a corporate world focused on profits at the expense of loyalty and employee well being, forever demanding more be done with less ... which, of course, makes no sense.

Slowly killing myself, I lived to drink and in excess drank to live and it almost cost me the very things I'm living for.

Having believed the creedo "the more you give the more that is given to you," I've learned the more you give ... the more they take ... though certainly there are nice exceptions fooling me into again adhering to the creedo.

Accustomed to being in control, I'm now accepting how little I have.

The old year died leaving me saddled with these things and the new one's begun with me intensely watching lemons drop to the ground on a beautiful day that will not last the winter.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Charlie the Christmas Coral

Charlie the Coral wanted to be a Christmas Tree.

He'd seen one on a boat passing by over his head. Through the clear Caribbean water, he saw the green decorated tree lighting the stern of the boat, different colored lights blinking on and off.

The tree was surrounded by people admiring it and singing in the fair night. He heard someone say the word "Christmas" and thought it was a beautiful word. He knew what trees were because some grew on the beach just on the other side of the water.

Looking at himself, Charlie saw a big brownish rock covered with red, green and brown algae. There were holes in him which fish swam through and lobsters sometimes hid.

Most of the other coral were bigger than him. Charlie was still young and growing and while everyone thought he to be a handsome coral, Charlie wanted to be a Christmas Tree when he grew up.

Charlie had loved the tree ever since and thought Christmas must be wonderful. Under the Ocean, it didn't mean anything.

Most of the fish who lived with him weren't interested in talking about what Christmas might be as they darted pass, playing fishy games and trying to stay away from the bigger fish who might eat them.

The other coral scattered around the sandy Ocean floor were simply content being coral. But Charlie was different. He dreamed he could be anything he wanted ... even a Christmas Tree. The older coral told him to stop thinking foolish thoughts.

"You're coral and nothing else," old Mr. Coral told him. "It's a good life. There is plankton to live on and fish to keep us company. Sometimes people come down to see us. It's important to know your place in the world Charlie! Coral are supposed to be under the water. Christmas is for people ... NOT US! You don't see fish thinking about it! Or the Stingray! Dolphins certainly don't. Sharks either!"

Charlie listened wishing some fish would swim into his ears and plug them but finally asked, "You know about Christmas? What about the Tree of Lights?" and the excitement in his voice startled a school of fish who quickly darted away.

Glad someone was talking to him for a change, the old coral, puffed up a bit to show off his knowledge and spoke like a Teacher.  "People believe putting lights on trees is pretty. Once a year they get them from the forest and put them in their homes. They decorate the trees to pay them honor ... once a year. The rest of the time, people don't pay much attention to trees. It's sad they don't get along more."

"But how do they bring the trees from the forest to their homes?" Charlie asked.

"They cut them down," old Mr. Coral answered.

Knowing how people can sometimes be, Charlie listed in horror as he'd once watched some drop an anchor on Lucy the Coral as they fished. The heavy anchor cut off one of her fingers and it now lay grey and dead near her. Whenever Lucy saw it, she cried. Charlie looked at her in the distance in silence.

"But the trees are so pretty. The stars rest on their branches and different colors dance around them," Charlie  mused, not wanting to be cut down but still wishing he was a Christmas Tree.

Old Mr. Coral looked sternly at Charlie. "Listen, coral are coral. Our place is here in the water. We are food and shelter to the fish. We are important to the world. Being coral is better than being a Christmas Tree so put all of this foolishness out of your mind right now!"

Charlie signed looking at the rusty anchor that had cut off Lucy's finger. Old Mr. Coral was probably right.

That night Charlie dreamed people came and cut him down. They used a big saw and cut him off right at the bottom. It hurt and he cried when they took him to the boat. Setting him in the stern, they placed stars and bright lights and colored balls all over him. At first it made him feel good until he saw a real Christmas Tree beside him and was ashamed and embarrassed.

Charlie woke in the dark night-time water and was glad to still be home between Old Mr. Coral and Lucy. His friends floated nearby. It was only a dream. Charlie began to cry.

Finny Fish woke and asked, "What's wrong Charlie?"

"I want to be a Christmas Tree," Charlie explained, "but I don't want to leave home. I am coral and that's important but I'm more than that too! I want to shine underwater with bright colors on me to make everyone feel good when they see me ... even Old Mr. Coral. Lucy could look at me and forget about the anchor that broke her finger."

Finny Fish listened patiently to his friend and replied, "But Charlie the fish need you. You are our home. You give us food. You are my friend."

"I know," Charlie cried, "but I still want to be more."

Now Finny Fish was smart and thought about how to help his friend.

He thought and thought and thought until finally he said, "Charlie please tell me exactly what a Christmas Tree looks like."

So Charlie the Coral, who loved Christmas Trees, told Finny the Fish all about them.

Finny listened carefully and then told Charlie his idea. Charlie nodded ... happy, excited and scared all at the same time.

Finny swam to his school and to other ones too asking for their help.

Soon hundreds of fish swam around Charlie the Coral and Finny Fish smiled and yelled, "Is everyone ready?"

"YES!" they bubbled.

"OKAY! GO" Finny shouted.

Hundreds of fish began to eat, most at the top and just a little at the bottom. It took a long time because the tiny fish had to scrape their teeth against Charlie to eat the algae. As they did, bits and pieces of coral fell away.

When they finished, Charlie was broad and round at the bottom, slender in the middle and came to a point at the top. There was no algae left on him but Charlie knew it would grow back.

The next morning Old Mr. Coral woke, yawned and looked at the sun shinning above the blue Ocean. He nodded greetings to Lucy Coral and said, "Good Morning" to the fish who seemed full and sleepy floating around him.

But when he look towards Charlie, he couldn't believe what he saw.

Charlie the Coral looked like a Christmas Tree.

"The fish did it!' Charlie happily explained. "They ate all night long in just the right places."

"But Charlie," Old Mr. Coral sighed, "you're still not a Christmas Tree. You are coral."

"I know and I want to be coral," Charlie grinned, "but watch this!"

Finny Fish and Charlie's other fishy friends swam to him, circling around and through his holes ... green, blue, yellow and red ... lighting up the Ocean bottom in color.

"He looks just like a Christmas Tree," Old Mr. Coral laughed.

"You are beautiful Charlie," Lucy Coral called.

Old Mr. Coral nodded in agreement. Charlie and his friends were right.

Soon every Dolphin, shark, stingray, shrimp and lobster came to see for themselves and everyone thought Charlie was a wonderful sight.

Now if someone feels bad, they look for Charlie. If Lucy is sad because the anchor cut off her finger or Old Mr. Coral is sick or on special days and days that aren't so special, Finny Fish and his friends swim around and through Charlie the Christmas Coral and everyone is happy again.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Unplugging Christmas

Once you strip away all of the pomp and circumstance, traditions and theologies, pretense and imagination, revised histories and fictionalized versions of the story ... you can finally unplug Christmas.

When you forget who begat who, Angels flying solo or singing in choirs, Prophets and political intrigue, Little Drummer Boys and Charlie Brown's Christmas ... you finally reach the stripped down story.

Before decades of embellishment in the retelling, Cantatas and Carols, trees with lights, Holly, mistletoe, gift swapping and special candlelight services ... this is what happened.

Mary gets pregnant and thanks God she is.

She's engaged but not married when she consistently begins missing her period.

Her finance Joseph, upset and embarrassed with his pregnant not-yet-wife, contemplates calling off the marriage but obviously loves Mary and goes through with it.

They have a baby boy.

The world's never been the same.

That's what happened.

Sure all that other stuff ... Angel's appearing in dreams to tell Mary it's God's baby she's having or Joseph to get the family the Hell out of there because of Government instigated murder ... Wise Men bearing Gifts following a star ... who knows if Shepherds tending their flocks actually visited ... even the birth in a manger because there was no room in the Inn ... make for one great story but were added later as what happened was told and retold.

All together it is the Hollywood version of the birth of the Messiah!

As nice and wondrous as they are, they're not really necessary.

Two of the four Gospels don't mention any of this at all preferring to focus on the end of the story ... a boy was born and the world's never been the same!

Matthew, the Jewish version, is the masculine take on the birth of Jesus and focuses on Joseph, Jesus' surrogate father while Luke, the Greek version, is the feminine account and through the eyes of Mary.

Both pack the plot with tons of extras who over the next several decades become integral to the story.

We're still adding to the cast with Little Drummer Boys, Santa Claus, Red-nose Reindeer, Snoopy and a Grinch who steals from believers in everything.

They're all great and wonderful ... I just love "A Charlie Brown Christmas" ... but they don't get to the heart of Christmas.

It's a very human story about faith.

A pregnant woman believes God blesses her with a baby and her lover goes ahead with the marriage after some second guessing because, in the end, he loves her more than anything and they have a baby boy.

Honestly the same story had played itself out countless times before Mary told Joseph the good news and still happens every single day.

I've been the protagonist in the very same story myself on more than one occasion!

It's really unimportant though which is why neither Mark or John pay any attention to the birth stories of Jesus ... who cares how he got here ... all that matters is he did.

The boy lives a short life ... 30 years by one account and 33 by another ... but he left his mark.

Jesus says and does a lot in a little while but in the end his message is a simple one:

 
Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and mind and soul
and
love your neighbor as you love yourself
 
 
That's what he had to say.
 
But if you believe like Mary did, every newborn baby is a message from God and this is the one Jesus came to symbolize.
 
For God so loves the world
he sends his son
and if you believe
every little things gonna be alright
and you can really start living now.
 
We have a newborn baby in our house this Christmas and she came about pretty much like Jesus did save Sarah and I were already married but no less surprised than Mary and Joseph.
 
Missed periods led to calling out God's name and serious second thoughts about lots of things but we went through with it anyway and now we have a baby girl.
 
Who knows what message God's sent the world through her?
 
Happy Christmas Everyone!
 
Micheal


Friday, December 16, 2016

Seeing for Miles

"OH GOOD! IT'S YOU!" he exclaims looking up from the junk mail he's opening at the Kitchen Table which is how he fills his empty days.

"It is," I say leaning over to hug him and he tightly squeezes in return.

He smiles and gives me his undivided attention, dropping the letter opener and the mail.

"It's good to see you too," I laugh. "Now tell me who I am."

The smile fades as he concentrates struggling to remember.

Light flashes in his eyes and the grin returns, "Philip" he announces.

"No, it's Micheal," I reply hitting his arm.

"OH HEY MICHEAL!" he gleefully exclaims. "HOW'S CHE?"

"Seriously," I laugh. "You can remember my baby's name, whom you've never met, but you can't remember mine?"

"Want some coffee?" he offers.

"You killing me," I sigh.

"I'm the one on Hospice," he quickly counters.

"Touché," I laugh.

He begins speaking in multiple languages ... French, German, Italian ... before I call halt, holding up my hand in front of his face, and he stops looking at me intently.

His son watches our exchange as does his full time caregiver, in the home where his wife recently passed in with him cuddled beside her in their bed, and me and Nurse Vickie ... I don't know what we were doing ... we certainly weren't in charge of anything ... we were simply there.

"Don't leave me," he pleads after 50 years of marriage.

But she was ready ... had told me so ... so she left him.

I thought it would kill him but the man is amazing and has rebounded though he couldn't call my name if his life depended on it.

Standing to leave, he grabs my hand and loudly announces, "YOU ARE MY BEST FRIEND! I LOVE YOU!"

Crying, I hug him again and say, "I love you."

Stoically his son blurts, "You came all this way just to see him?"

I don't care for his son ... or his brother ... who bide their time ... waiting ... calculating ... anticipating ... passing the buck they'd rather count in the inheritance.

"Yeah," I say. "I'll be back before Christmas," I tell the caregiver ... ignoring the son.

"It's Christmas?" he asks. "I knew that! I got a Christmas Card from my daughter ... I think she's dead ... is she?"

"Yeah," I squeeze his shoulder. "Remember ... she fell off a horse."

"She did?" he asks.

Driving back for lunch with Sarah and our girls, I'm lost in thought, mesmerized by the lights God's throwing on High Tides in the marsh.

"You're a Dinosaur," a dear friend tells me. "An old fashion plumber who doesn't use the latest technology or shortcuts ... and's only needed by the occasional person who needs a fix when no one else understands the old fashion ways."

On Sirius XM is blasting "Deep Cuts" through the open sun roof gliding through the marshes carrying me home to Tybee Island as "The Who" reminds me "I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles."

Maybe it didn't help the Dinosaurs to see that far ... but I swear ... it helps me.
"I never thought I'd see you again," he grins opening the door looking like death warmed over because ... he is.

Resembling an emaciated Abraham Lincoln leaning on one crutch, he could easily play the lead in a Zombie movie.

"Why not?" I ask hugging the black leather jacket covering the saggy skin loosely padding his bag of bones body ... though he's got great hair and the song "Werewolf of London" pops in my head.

"Told me you'd been replaced by the other Chaplain," he explains releasing me from the embrace to light a cigarette and grin again.

"Yeah it's true. I'm here as your friend and not your Chaplain. You letting me in or not?"

"Hell Yeah!" he laughs limping to the kitchen motioning me to follow.

The tiny junk filled room he rents is to the right of the tailor's front door and filled with Fed-Ex boxes of medicine, unopened cans of food and half drank cups of coffee.

To the left is a cozy and well kept living room kitchen area overstuffed with other people's furniture.

"Coffee?" he asks, sticking a cold cup in the microwave.

"I'm not touching that stuff you drink," I chide.

Laughing, he hobbles to the seat beside me at the kitchen table without spilling a drop, grins broadly before repeating, "I never thought I'd see you again."

"You believe everything they tell you?"

"Naw and if they're smart they don't believe everything I tell them either."

Laughing I lean forward and ask, "Like what?"

"I can't tell you," he delights.

"Why not?" I grin sitting straight, "I don't work for them anymore."

So he tells me.

And we laugh.

"Don't tell anybody," he says squeezing happy tears from his eyes.

"Who am I gonna tell?"

Bursting into laughter again, he shrugs and answers, "I don't know."

"How's Che?" he asks suddenly changing the subject. "You got pictures?"

"Of course I have pictures," I grin sticking my phone in his face gleefully showing him our baby.

"Already stolen your heart," he concludes taking a long drag from his cigarette.

"Yeah," I grin putting my phone away while standing to leave.

"Aw, you gotta go?" he asks lighting another one.

"I can stay here with you or go hug my baby," I explain hugging him again. "What would you do?"

Laughing I feel his bony arms squeeze me, "Get the Hell out of here."

Making my way to the door he suddenly asks, "Hey! You coming back?"

"Why wouldn't I?"

Laughing, cigarette ash falls into his coffee, he smirks "I can't think of a single reason."

"Me either," I laugh crawling inside my car.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My Queer Friends

"I don't want him," she spits sitting in her kitchen, dressed in a blue nightgown, balled up and mad.

"Why not?" I ask sitting between her and her grandson who's working on the crossword puzzle as lunch simmers on the old fashion stove.

"He's Queer!" she almost shouts.

"What?" I spit, laughing.

"He's Queer!" she repeats angrily at me.

"Sexually challenged," her grandson smirks.

"He is not," I protest still giggling.

"Pour the noodles in the water," she instructs her grandson. "It's boiling."

"You're not changing the subject," I insert padding her hand and she grabs hold.

"I have to put the noodles in the water Micheal," the grandson explains.

"I'm not talking to you," I answer.

"He's not Queer! His finance lives with him."

"He's a Sinner!" she bellows.

Almost falling out of my chair laughing, I finally compose myself and say, "Damned if you do damned if you don't, huh?"

And she laughs, moving her hand up my arm to say, "I love you."

"Well I love you too but who cares if he's Queer or not. Jesus loves him ... remember? ... red and yellow, black and white?"

Stirring the noodles, the grandson softly sings "Jesus Loves Me."

"You still gonna come?" she asks.

"Yes," I reply running my arm up hers, "because you look terrible ... your hair's not combed ... you're having Fish Sticks with noodles for lunch ... and think Queers are bad people."

"She didn't mean Queer that way," he says, refraining from Jesus loving us and the stirring the noodles.

"She did too," I scold.

"Well ... yeah ..." he grins stirring the noodles.

"I'll tell you something else," I say looking into her face, "Jesus loves Hillary Clinton every bit as much as Donald Trump."

The kitchen is full of the sound of boiling water and pins dropping.

"He's gonna save our country," she finally says.

"Hope so," I sigh standing up.

"You're not leaving," he asks, "there's some Bible things in the crossword puzzle you can help me answer."

"When you coming back?" she asks, almost pleadingly.

"As soon as I finish Christmas shopping for my Queer friends and family."

He laughs almost knocking the pot full of noodles off the tiny stove.

"Well that shouldn't take too long," she grins, kissing me on the cheek.

"You have no idea," I laugh leaving the tiny house.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Almost wanting Hell to get hotter

Well ... cold weather has arrived so you know what that means ... I'm ready to get the Hell out of here!

Winter can go to Hell where it's warmer anyway!

It's one reason I like Hell and have been so much in my life.

I am all for Global Warming and vote for it!

The only thing Winter does is refine my already immaculate cussing skills!

"Holy Shit!" they scream as I stroll through the door marked "Exit Only" at the Breakfast Club.

"Get out of my way," I wish everyone a good morning knocking them out of the way of the coffee.

"My God," Dani exclaims, you're wearing long sleeves, pants AND SHOES!"

By far Dani is the most observant person at the Breakfast Club.

"I'm not wearing socks," I reply pouring myself a cup.

"We did," she, Caroline and Denise sing in unison showing me their socks.

As if I care.

Grumbling I take my stool (second from the left on the front part of the counter) and sip the hot, steaming elixir of life.

Seventy-five's pretty chilly to me so when the meteorologists flash their plastic grins extolling the perfect fall weather ... or even snow for the Holidays ... they can go to Hell too!

To warm myself, I start thinking about Hell ... who I think should go ... because if we get enough there, the fires will burn larger ... heat rises ... and it gets warmer here!

Obviously Hell is not hitting it's quota anymore.

Though I can't fault Satan because hardly anyone's hitting it anymore as the economy continues to falter in spite of what politicians say.

"Let's see," I say out loud, "who should go to Hell who's still alive and just needs the advance ticket because God knows they're going anyway?"

"What?" Jeff asks wearing a black short sleeve Breakfast Club tee shirt.

"Wasn't talking to you," I say to my brain frozen friend.

"Hmmm," I ponder. "Who should go now and make the world a happier place?"

The Board Chair who chose to remain anonymous comes to mind ... but he is a sad little angry man with a Napoleon complex who built a career climbing up latters to look down on people before tearing them down so he could built himself up.

His father must have been a real prick!

The coffee and friendships warm my soul so I really don't want to send anybody to Hell ... even him ... though he remains first in line.

I don't like negative thoughts and do my best to keep them in check.

There's too many negative things in life already and I don't want to be a contributor to them.

Satan can meet his own quota.

I got enough problems with this damn cold weather and happy meteorologists.

Besides, as soon as I get home, Sarah and Che gonna warm me right up in a toasty sort of way.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Managing Waste Island Style

Tiny black berries fall from the Palm Trees and I'm tried of them sticking to my bare feet on this damp 60 degree morning so I'm blowing them off the Driveway.

Our neighbor JJ sits across the street on her front porch wearing pajamas, intensely staring at her phone, leaving her oblivious to the noisy lawn blower.

Sarah feeds Baby Che in the house so I'm exploiting the window of opportunity to make noise.

"HEY JJ!" I scream as tiny Palm berries roll across the concrete.

"WHAT?" she screams waving.

"SORRY!"

"WHAT?" she repeats leaning forward.

Turning off the high pitch whine of the blower I repeat, "Sorry."

"It doesn't bother me," she laughs quickly returning to the intensity of her phone.

After putting away the blower and electrical cord, I stand at the top of the stairs admiring my work, all seven minutes of it.

Interrupting the pride in my incredible sense of accomplishment, the Atlantic Waste Services truck slowly makes it's way down our street.

Tybee Island is an eco-friendly clump of sand that does not tolerate anything that doesn't naturally wash up on the Beach.

Except discarded "To-Go" Cups which are definite linchpins of the island's economic engine.

The sharply dressed Atlantic Waste Management worker opens the blue recycling can proudly displaying the "Tybee Recycles" logo in white letters and looks inside.

Apparently satisfied, he opens the brown trash can with "Atlantic Waste Management" in green letters before professionally and quickly picking up the "Tybee Recycles" can and emptying it inside the trash can.

Efficiently the waste is disposed of inside of the brown "Atlantic Waste Management" truck whicih proceeds slowly down the street.

In utter disbelief, I cuss ... "Why don't I have my damn phone when I need it? so I can snap a photo and post in on Face Book and the local news picks up the documentation and broadcasts the travesty on the 6 o'clock News ... like last time.

But Don Logana was tragically killed and no longer follows me on Facebook.

Before I can react, a second "Atlantic Waste Management" truck slowly makes its way down the street as I stand frozen ... wondering why.

On the side in white letters are the words, "Tybee Recycles."

It doesn't stop ... following the brown "Atlantic Waste Management" truck as it turns the corner.

"I better let someone know about this," I say to Sarah and Baby Che, grabbing my phone to send a text to Johnny O, who used to be somebody.

Forever the consummate professional Johnny I quickly text a detailed account of what I'd personally witnessed.

"Yep," he immediately replies.

And that's recycling on Tybee Island ... an eco-friendly island financed by fees and charges to residents, businesses and tourists ... so we can feel good about ourselves for things that simply don't exist.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Mismatched Living

Any time you stop something suddenly there's a jolt to the system and a shock to no real agenda.

Taking things personally as every one does, it's good to be reminded the whole keeps on turning without you ... even the tiny world you just left.

My friend Angela was scared to retire because she didn't think she could handle the change ... waking up every day to see who cared about her on Face Book ... so she kept working long after she wanted ... letting them take far more than they should ... giving the last of what she held dear.

"I don't want to be alone in front of my computer hoping somebody cares enough to like because I need affirmation to live ... that's just sad."

In the end, it happens anyway.

It always does.

Sometimes though, you get to pull the trigger.

Angela did and found a new life full of family, grandchildren, road trips and introducing herself to herself again  ... and liking who she is away from ... it all.

Her Face Book posts are joyful celebrations of life now and thoughtful, loving responses to what she sees in the lives of others.

When I suddenly stopped last week ... because at this stage of life I'm not going to let them take more they give ... having learned that's merely Rape by another name.

So I shock most everyone at work I've grown to love ... and didn't care about the others.

It shocks me too because, I have lots more to give ... so it's a shame it didn't match what the "Company" demands.

Life's too short for such mismatched living.

On this first day of the non-work week, I'm feeding our Baby Che ... staring at the Palm Trees outside the window ... writing a song in my head for my wife ... with my bare feet propped on Goddess our bag-o-bones dog ... listening to birds and frogs sing through the open windows.

Sarah's off stocking up on groceries because, God knows, we need to make things stretch out but ... Che's flashing me sleepy smiles as I read text from our daughter Maddie ... the clueless 15 year old who knows everything ... wants me to take her to Target.

"Mom said you should," she writes.

"Che," I say out loud, "don't believe everything you sister says. You'll do much better in life."

The six week old smiles melting my heart into a glowing pool of love I don't deserve at this stage of living.

The time for the Monday morning Conference call arrives, the one forgetting everything you've ever done to remind you of what's needed now, and I'm tempted, having kept the number and access code.

But I'm no longer a contributor to their madness ... though it was fun for a while.

Goddess sighs under my bare feet ... the Palm Trees drip wetness in the warmth of a December day ...the birds and frogs grow tired ... Maddie can't text because school's started ... Sarah's on her way home with groceries and ... Che smiles.

Friday, December 2, 2016

God's Memory

This is what happens when you leave a job.

1. The people who love you cry.

2. Colleagues say, "Has he lost his mind? It's a job for God's sake!"

3. You'll be blamed for everything that went wrong over the last six months even if you had nothing to do with any of it ... it'll be your fault.

4. Management will say, "It was a bad hire from the beginning."

5. The Dickheads in your office proclaim, "He was never one of us" and pretend you were never there.

6. Then in no time at all ... nobody remembers you at all.

Even if you're given a Gold Watch and they hang your picture on the Wall of Fame, in no time at all no one remembers.

This is my favorite story about pictures on the Wall of Fame ... in the Board room of the United Way of the Coastal Empire hung each Chairman of their annual fundraising campaign ... great head shots in black-and-white ... except for one ...  his was in color ... so when I enter for the first time I say ... "Oh! I'm so glad you don't discriminate ... you even had a colored guy to head your campaign."

Next time I was in the room his photograph had been replaced by a black-and-white.

No one remembers when he was colored.

Now that I'm gone ... no one really remembers me either.

Course I'm glad this had absolutely nothing to do with why I left ... who cares if I'm missed ... remembered ... talked about ... longed for ... wished upon ... desired to return regardless of the costs?

Well ... the truth of the matter is ... I do.

It's a shame we get so much of our self-esteem from others.

Honestly the longer you live ... the more you've done ... the less you care.

Old people who still care amaze me.

They've done it all ... seen it all ... been everywhere but still want to keep at it.

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, each member of Congress and everyone on 60 Minutes spring to mind.

The funny thing is in the end they won't be remembered either.

That's why elected officials name shit after themselves ... to achieve immortality even though no one cares.

Though ... there are those who never forget.

The ones you'd never expect.

Those who matter most ... the lonely widow heartbroken with loneliness who laughs and then cries when you enter ... the hungry homeless man sleeping in the Dumpster before you offered a room ... the orphan taken though it didn't work out ... a sick friend in the Hospital needing the visit and in spite of other plans you were it ... the little old lady wearing her nightgown in the afternoon asking, "Hey Micheal ... is it okay if I go?"

They remember though it doesn't count for much,

Though ... I believe these are the things that God remembers ... for whatever that counts for.

Still ...

I'd rather be remembered by God ... and widows, hungry men in Dumpsters, orphans, sick friends and dying ladies wearing nightgowns in the middle of the day ... than anything they say beside the water cooler ... or to hang there in black and white ... or in color.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Oh they tell me ...

As the cool, hip, Beach Bum, rock-and-roller, lover of stripped down fashion, haven't had a hair cut in four years, crazily in love with the wife and father to more than one generation of children ... I have a confession.

I'm pretty old school.

Old fashion stuff like loyalty ... doing what you say you're going to do ... following through on commitments ... taking care of the down and out ... still picking up hitchhikers ... whispering prayers ... crying when it's right ... mean a lot to me.

It's who I am.

I'm made of these things.

"The world's not like that anymore," my wife tells me as we discuss my job. "There's nothing old school about today's work place."

"Well," I protest, "it should be."

"But it's not," she shoots.

"It's about being replaced if you cost too much or question anything ... it's about getting by without making waves ... there's no room for creativity ... and you do what you're told regardless of the logic ... or the result."

I open my mouth but ... there's nothing to say.

She's right.

Today's about keeping a job no matter how much it hurts ... the amount of abuse ... or the fact the majority of modern managers are mental midgets with the IQ of a fence post.

There is no kindness in work anymore.

I must confess I hate McDonald's almost as much as winter.

The one on Whitemarsh Island has achieved standards lower than snake feces under wilted grass ... but their marketing is great ... in spite of the rude incompetence of the staff poorly serving tasteless food.

"Why isn't it ever as good as looks on the commercial?" Sarah asks watching television of a steaming Quarter Pounder with Cheese when in reality ... McDonald's doesn't melt the cheese ... throwing a slice on the bun in hopes you'll believe you're tasting what you saw on television.

It's the same at work.

"We're a great wonderful Team" ... when we're not raping you ... demanding doing more with less ... using your own money so you keep the job ... saying things right even when they're not ...and claiming "WE ROCK!" ... even though they're mostly thrown.

The illusion of productivity is easily demonstrated by the lack of results.

Satisfaction's achieved only by pretense.

"How do you fuck up dying?" I asked last night, introducing a song at Monty Park's Tuesday Night Acoustic Jam.

Pointing at Faye Allen, a Hospice Nurse, who's laughing at the question, I say, "Money."

Covering her mouth as though I've spoken the unholy, she nods in affirmation.

"Oh they tell me of a home far beyond the skies," I sing. "Oh they me of a land far away."

Oh they tell me.

I just don't believe them anymore.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Getting Ready For Winter

"Well," I respond to my wife, "I've been to every city that has an NFL Team."

She'd reminding me she worked for the Buffalo Bills and probably could be still ... which is impossible to top but I'm a competitive soul.

"The best time to get your car washed," she happily continues, "is during the game ... no one's out cause they're all watching the Bills."

"What?" I wonder in confusion ... miss a game?

She shrugs her slinky shoulders and smiles.

I love football season!

It makes fall doable when temperatures begin to dip.

Football also gets me through January when that cursed time of year dominates with cold winds, freezing climate and snow.

Did I mention I hate winter?

Hate is such a strong word but every bit applicable in this case.

"75 is pretty chilly to me," sings the great Beach minstrel Jim Morris as he nails the line where hate is crossed for me.

"You know," Sarah says, "you really don't hate anything. Even people who've treated you very wrong ... people you should hate ... you have a soft spot ... you forgive, move on and look back fondly ... even when they raped and killed you ... but ... you really do hate the cold!"

I love my wife because she understands me.

I love her for lots of other reasons too but this isn't about eroticism.

"I've never heard so many cuss words strung together in my life than listening to you curse the cold," she continues. "And you don't use any of the nicer cuss words! You just keep using the worst of the worst over and over again."

"The girls need to know how to cope," I answer.

The girls all wish for snow which makes me groan in agony.

But, I have to give thanks to God who, for whatever reason, is looking kindly on me these days.

Temperatures in November have been delightfully summer like.

My clothing remains optional.

Plus, every time I look at Baby Che my heart melts!

Every time the girls ask for my opinion before ignoring it, I'm left flush!

And ... I have to admit getting under the covers with Sarah is pretty Tropical.

Yeah ... I'm gearing up for winter.

I hate winter!

I'm glad I'm blessed with so many other things to love instead.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

An Island Thanksgiving

Sunshine pours through the open windows as I listen to the choir of cicada sings Hymns of Thanksgiving outside.

The Macy's Parade is blaring from the television.

The girls run around in various stages of undress with hair designs by "Pillows".

Sarah's in a great mood because she slept through the night for the first time in months or because it's a family holiday and we're not leaving the house.

Of course this thoroughly pisses off the family who want to meet Che but if home is where the heart is ... sometimes your ass needs to stay there too.

Truth be told ... we're tired.

Sarah's four weeks into the fallacy of maternity leave in the United States and hasn't had a full night's sleep in months ... I'm working six days a week not including the social media gigs I do ... and the girls are sick of school needing to redirect all of the energy and effort into themselves.

So we opted to stay home, greatly irritating our family while immensely pleasing our dogs.

A few close friends are stopping by at some point.

Apparently blessing our decision is none other than God who has given us a glorious summer's day on Thanksgiving.

It's hard to not love God when she gives gifts like this!

I'm having a beer to celebrate and give a Heavenly toast.

The aroma of baking bread fills the house sprinkled with the salt of Sea and Marsh Mud.

Suddenly I'm compelled to wonder which tee shirt to wear with the black running shorts ... a UGA grey one will perfectly compliment the ensemble.

No need for shoes ... even Flip-Flops.

I talk to the kids who are scattered to and fro on the face of the earth and every one wishes everyone the same thing.

The people watching the Macy's Day Parade look awful dancing to lip synched performances.

A giant wave crashes on the pristine sand of Tybee Beach making me smile, reminding me how thankful I am for everything.

I hope you are too!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

So they Tell Me

"Do you see how someone's going to die?"

"What?" I ask, tuning my guitar, checking the microphones, adjusting the sound and getting ready for whoever shows up.

"Can you tell how people are going to handle dying?" he replies, looking out the corner of his eye fumbling with cables.

Smirking at the oddball question, I shrug my shoulders and answer, "The same way they live."

It's his turn to ask, "What?"

Behind the Bar, Mary asks if I'm going anywhere because she needs to go get Bobbi so I nod as she hurries into the sunshine flooding the crowded sidewalk of a Sunday morning Beach town.

In the silence of the tavern, it's just he and me.

"I think people die like they live. If they are accepting people they'll likely accept the inevitable ... if they're always angry, they be pissed ... if they're confused they'll wonder what's going on ... if they don't care they won't start ... and if they're ready to try something different they're out of here quick, pretty excited about whatever's coming."

If a pin dropped we would have heard it.

In the silence I resume tuning my guitar.

"So, you're telling me ..." his voice trails off.

"Yeah, so as you live so shall you die."

"And you can see that?"

Putting the guitar in it's stand, I walk behind the bar to collect my thoughts and get something to drink.

People stick their heads in the doors propped open, "Y'all open?"

It's 9 am on a Sunday. The Bar's not open. It's just my friend helping me out because what I'm doing is over my head and he's knows things I don't know.

"No, we're getting ready for Church," I smile from behind the bar and they look confused, then appalled before hurrying away.

It makes us laugh.

Church isn't supposed to be in a Bar and a Bar should be open during Church but ... it's hard to discern the truth these days.

"But you know someone's going to die before they do and you can sort of see how it's going to happen?" he prods while making the sound system perfect.

"Hmmm," I mumble returning to my Bar Stool on the stage, "I really don't think about it," as I pick up my guitar and strum, "I mean I'm pretty zoned on how they're living right up until they die."

"But you know," he says standing to stare in my eyes.

Strumming the chords to "An Unclouded Day" I shrug ... "Yeah."

People meander in bringing baskets of food to spread on the Pool Table and greetings, hugs and laughter fill the empty Bar.

"Alright," he says, moving to the door, "the sound is good. Have a great service."

"Sure you don't want to stay?"

Smiling, he's gone.

"Oh they tell me of a home far beyond the skies," I sing, "Oh they tell me of a home far away ..."

So they tell me.

We'll see.

In the meantime, there's way more living to be done.

So they Tell Me

"Do you see how someone's going to die?"

"What?" I ask, tuning my guitar, checking the microphones, adjusting the sound and getting ready for whoever shows up.

"Can you tell how people are going to handle dying?" he replies, looking at me out of the corner of his eye as he fumbles with the cables.

Smirking at the oddball question, I shrug my shoulders and answer, "The same way they live."

It's his turn to ask, "What?"

Behind the Bar, Mary asks if I'm going anywhere because she needs to go get Bobbi so I grin and nod as she hurries into the sunshine flooding the crowded sidewalk of a Sunday morning Beach town.

In the silence of the tavern, it's just he and me.

"I think people die like they live. If they are accepting people they'll likely accept the inevitable ... if they're always angry, they be pissed ... if they're confused they'll wonder what's going on ... if they don't care they won't start now ... and if they're ready to try something different they're out of here quick pretty excited about whatever's coming."

If a pin dropped we would have heard it.

In the silence I resume tuning my guitar.

"So, you're telling me ..." his voice trails off.

"Yeah, so as you live so shall you die."

"And you can see that?"

Putting the guitar in it's stand, I walk behind the bar to collect my thoughts and get something to drink.

People stick their heads in the doors propped open, "Y'all open?"

It's 9 am on a Sunday. The Bar's not open. It's just my friend helping me out because what I'm doing is over my head and he's knows things I don't know.

"No, we're getting ready for Church," I smile from behind the bar and they look confused, the appalled before hurrying away.

It makes us laugh.

Church isn't supposed to be in a Bar and a Bar should be open during Church but ... it' hard to discern the truth these days.

"But you know someone's going to die before they do and you can sort of see how it's going to happen?" he continues making the sound system is perfect.

"Hmmm," I mumble returning to my Bar Stool on the stage, "I really don't think about it," as I pick up my guitar and strum, "I mean I'm pretty zoned on how they're living right up until they die."

"But you know," he says standing to stare in my eyes.

Strumming the chords to "An Unclouded Day" I shrug ... "Yeah."

People meander in bringing baskets of food to spread on the Pool Table and greetings, hugs and laughter fill the empty Bar.

"Alright," he says, moving to the door, "the sound is good. Have a great service."

"Sure you don't want to stay?"

Smiling, he's gone.

"Oh they tell me of a home far beyond the skies," I sing, "Oh they tell me of a home far away ..."

So they tell me.

We'll see.

In the meantime, there's way more living to be done.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

More than life

It's funny in the United States that you have to wait 8 weeks to adopt a newborn puppy so it can be properly weaned but ... a Mother of a newborn baby goes back to work after only six weeks of maternity leave.

It really isn't maternity leave.

It's all the vacation and sick days that's been saved up.

Who makes such silly rules?

Employers ... the Insurance Industry ... Government?

In the United States we talk about children being the most important thing but ... they're not.

If they were the country would really have maternity leave ... or ... at least treat our newborns as good as we do our dogs.

In full disclosure, I've never been pregnant or borne a child ... though I'm very close to some who have.

Other than watching it happen, I know nothing of the changes to a woman's body, the hormones running amuck, the pain of delivery, the shock of having your center of the Universe change ... and the lame ass American Health Care system that allows a woman 9 months to have a baby and 6 weeks to recover.

It's apparent men still run things.

I don't know shit about actually having a baby ... I'm more a contributing witness ... and I watch Sarah struggle to get back to normal in the federally sanctioned pre-allotted time line.

I do know though that the greatest miracle in humanity is the authoring of life ... taking what's given to a woman and making eyeballs, livers, feet, skin, hair and somehow sewing them all together in a living breathing person.

That's pretty God-like because ... well ... God's the only other to do it ever.

It's far better than what men create ... profit making companies that don't give a rat's ass about it's employees ... Government ... institutional religion ... competitive fishing ... and outlet malls.

Watching Sarah struggle to recover both physically and emotionally within the guidelines of stupid policies and profit shares, I'm a bit ashamed as I roll merrily along ... doing the things I pretty much do all of the time ... just with a baby.

My wife has suspended all activity save loving Che ... making her the center of the Universe ... while ignoring her own needs ... while we continue to make the same demands on her because ... that's what we've always done.

No wonder there's the theology of an angry God!

You give them and they want more?!

It'd piss me off.

But Sarah struggles through, really needing to be the center of attention while healing from creating life ... while the rest of us commit the sin of always wanting more than what we've been given.

More than life

It's funny in the United States that you have to wait 8 weeks to adopt a newborn puppy so it can be properly weaned but ... a Mother of a newborn baby goes back to work after only six weeks of maternity leave.

It really isn't maternity leave.

It's all the vacation and sick days that's been saved up.

Who makes such silly rules?

Employers ... the Insurance Industry ... Government?

In the United States we talk about children being the most important thing but ... they're not.

If they were the country would really have maternity leave ... or ... at least treat our newborns as good as we do our dogs.

In full disclosure, I've never been pregnant or borne a child ... though I'm very close to some who have.

Other than watching it happen, I know nothing of the changes to a woman's body, the hormones running amuck, the pain of delivery, the shock of having your center of the Universe change ... and the lame ass American Health Care system that allows a woman 9 months to have a baby and 6 months to recover.

It's apparent men still run things.

I don't know shit about actually having a baby ... I'm more a contributing witness ... and I watch Sarah struggle to get back to normal in the federally sanctioned pre-allotted time line.

I do know though that the greatest miracle in humanity is the authoring of life ... taking what's given to a woman and making eyeballs, livers, feet, skin, hair and somehow sewing them all together in a living breathing person.

That's pretty God-like because ... well ... God's the only other to do it ever.

It's far better than what men create ... profit making companies that don't give a rat's ass about it's employees ... Government ... institutional religion ... competitive fishing ... and outlet malls.

Watching Sarah struggle to recover both physically and emotionally within the guidelines of stupid policies and profit shares, I'm a bit ashamed as I roll merrily along ... doing the things I pretty much do all of the time ... just with a baby.

My wife has suspended all activity save loving Che ... making her the center of the Universe ... while ignoring her own needs ... while we continue to make the same demands on her because ... that's what we've always done.

No wonder there's the theology of an angry God!

You give them and they want more?!

It'd piss me off.

But Sarah struggles through, really needing to be the center of attention while healing from creating life ... while the rest of us commit the sin of always wanting more than what we've been given.