Wednesday, November 9, 2011


"The district sleeps alone tonight."

There's a girl I know in the district who doesn't really sleep. Ever since I saw her, sleep has been different.

1. I've had weird dreams. And I can't shake them.

2. I grind my teeth when I sleep. I feel the jagged friction just before I wake up. It worries me.

3. Bon Iver. Of course, right? "Wash." was in my dreams last night. (Click that link. Listen to that shit.) It's a great song but one that I never really remember listening to in depth. It was in my dreams and consequently in my head this morning, and the song has deeply affected me since. Can't shake it.

4. (This is only tangentially related to sleep, via Bon Iver and "Wash." I listen to it and mix that feeling with a Great Divide beer and can't help but get sentimental. And it always ends up drivel.) I can't shake this feeling of letting people whom I love know I love them. Rye. Paige. Chuck. Leif. Dustin. Mom. Dad. District. Jake. JK. Baars. Juan Jr. S'matty. Nick. Mags. Clark. 1030. HiC. Tonk Bucs. All y'alls who'd better know I care.

5. (Sleep stretched to sentimentality, which stretched to this.) I had my best day teaching ever. The kids ended up being better writers at the end of 50 minutes than they were before. I planned the shit out of the lesson. No demerits. A handful of students got that I care about them by the end of the day. It's why I did this.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"ANXIETY" (it read on Greg Kuzma's hat)

The weight of things passed

sits on my chest. I’m thinking fast

of Sufjan songs

of facial hair grown too long

of peaks and pics

of peeps and chicks

of flags in ceilings

of political leanings

(too far left,

to put to death)

of baseball games

of betrayal’s pain

of submarine sandwiches

of gravel ditches

where we almost crashed.

Oh, the weight of things passed.


“Are we hipsters, Dave?”

It’s a genuine question.

I’ve been wearing more flannel.

My jeans are tighter, my bike recycled.

Dave pauses.

“We don’t dress enough like hipsters.”

That’s not reassuring.

I don’t smoke American Spirits,

don’t drink Pabst Blue Ribbon,

don’t wear Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

I do like Fleet Foxes

and eat tempeh and seitan.

I buy beets at the farmers’ market.

Dave is silent.

I don’t wait for elaboration.

I change the subject.


Renter’s insurance,

a worrier’s assurance.

Ninety-five fifty.

It’s late. Forgive me.

Electronics are covered,

my worries shuttered.

On time or late --

good hands, Allstate.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Above all else

It's been months, actually. More than a year. I left her on New Year's Day, 2010. She got a boyfriend two weeks after I left. She filed the papers almost exactly a year ago.

Then, at Christmas, she talks about fixing everything. We've got two kids, so I sort of open up. She came out here a couple weeks ago. She interviewed for a job. We got too close. Too, too close.

Today, she writes. Turning the job down. Staying in Omaha. Above all else, I feel stupid for letting her get to me.

Above all else, I feel like I had one chance, and it's gone.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The dueling man

There are those of you who know how hard the last year has been for me. There are those, I suppose, who don't know. The details are frivolous. You'll find out eventually. Or not. You'll at least see the results of the decisions I'm making, which are in turn, results of decisions I've made. There undoubtedly have been some right decisions, but all I can seem to dwell on are the wrong.

At any rate, I'm in a state of calculated reflection and uncontrollable emotional reaction. I'm hitting extremes and very rarely does my meter seem to fall in between, in some healthy medium. It seems that being a man -- perhaps being a person in general -- inevitably shifts from extreme to extreme.

The point is: I'm a mess.

I've turned to dueling pieces of art that cater to my unbalanced points of view and in turn help me realize why I react the way I do. They cater to my weak side -- the sadly emotional, weepy, powerless reaction to the sadness I'm facing and my pigheadedly strong side -- the wildly emotional, Alpha male, intimidating, break-shit-to-feel-better reaction.

Exhibit A -- feeding weak and emotional side -- is the Bon Iver album "For Emma, Forever Ago." Specifically the songs "Skinny Love" and "Re: Stacks." Justin Vernon wrote the album on a three-month hiatus at his father's cabin in northwestern Wisconsin. He had broken up with the love of his life. He had endured mononucleosis that plagued his liver. His band had broken up. He didn't intend to make music, but he did as a sort of cathartic exercise. The result is an album of heartbreaking songs about pain, loss, the difficulty to cope and the inability to recover.

I had avoided Bon Iver during the past few years because it seemed too indie hip. I made a big mistake. I saw Vernon and his backing band perform last weekend in Omaha. The songs spoke directly to me and my situation. It was moving. It felt good to listen to his songs that indulged my need to grieve over the wrong turns in my life and the incredible sadness that lies ahead in the coming weeks, months, years. It consoles the side of me that wants to wrap myself up in a blanket and sleep off the horror and heartbreak. It embraces the side that wants to live in a forest near Gunnison, Colo., until the end of time.

Then, of course, there's Exhibit B: Jon Krakauer's "Where Men Win Glory." It's the story of the pigheaded, tragic, heroic journey of Pat Tillman. He was an NFL football player with a comfortable life, a great wife and an unquenchable thirst for adventure who left it all to join the Army and try to avenge the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. As Krakauer -- my favorite author by a million miles -- writes, Tillman was an Alpha male who believed "in the moral imperative to defend ideals such as truth, beauty, honor and justice. He is self-assured. He is a risk taker. He regards suffering as salutary, and scorns the path of least resistance."

It's the justice and suffering parts that stick. I've been wronged -- deeply, soundly and irreparably. I have an unhealthy need to blame and punish. I have an unhealthy ability to trudge through pain when I'd be wiser to walk away. The results haven't been pretty. Broken possessions, burned knickknacks, lost sanity. And, worst of all, the point hasn't been taken. But reading about Tillman makes me realize my reactions aren't asinine. They certainly are wrong, but, in fact, there are centuries of precedence of men acting like ridiculous assholes. You'll be glad to know I've done quite well holding up that tradition.

Both creations -- Krakauer's and Bon Iver's -- cater to these undesirable aspects of my character. Sorry for the crassness, but they validate the pussy who's too weak to enact change and the asshole too mean to allow it to happen.

I am, in essence, a man at war with himself and his emotions. A dueling man, who soon will have only himself to examine, only himself to commiserate with.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Our bathroom

Our bathroom was unchanged since we bought it. The previous owners had decorated it with a nautical scene -- wallpapered ships sailing on the ocean, like we had seen on our honeymoon in Nantucket. My wife bought something that looked like a glass flotation device to hang from a wrought-iron hook above the large mirror.

We live, by the way, in the middle of Nebraska, which made the nautical theme all the more ridiculous. So I don't blame her -- my wife -- for walking into the bathroom. She was a few months pregnant when she walked into that half bathroom and started ripping the wallpaper away in shreds. 

But, you know, it was ours. We bought that room, this house, together. We sought to make it our own. And she, alone, walked in and started ripping it apart. 

But it wasn't easy. It wasn't clean. The wallpaper stuck. Stubborn. It wouldn't let go of all those years it clung to that dusty drywall. Hell, it shouldn't have been there at all. I'm sure it knew that. I'm sure it sensed that. Ships in Nebraska? Come on. But it held steady anyway.

So she chipped at it. She grabbed a metal blade and chipped at it. Tried to make it let go, shrivel in on itself and give in. But, dammit, it didn't. That paper clung there. Stubborn bastard wallpaper.

Next, she tried a wallpaper steamer. Tried to use heat and water and technology to make that paper release. It didn't. Of course. Some of it came off. Enough to make things look even more uneven and unclean. Then, she tried a sander. She tried to apply dry, blunt force to that paper to make it relent, make it ... go away. But, of course, it stayed. Shit.

Then she turned to me. It was my time to make things better. My turn to make it all go away. I tried to protest. I didn't start this, I said. I didn't grab the slightly flawed but mostly OK paper and try to rip it away to reveal something better. She wasn't having it. This house was half mine. I should try to own it and make it better.

So I sanded. I plowed that machine into the walls. Thick dust coated me. I breathed it in. I coughed. I choked. But I kept going. Some of that paper came off. But not much. It remained -- uneven, unsightly, imperfect.

At that point, we'd had too much. We bought some primer. (I hate primer.) And coated over the ragged, rough shards of wallpaper. We waited for it to dry before dousing it in putrid yellow paint. We hated the looks of it, of course. So we painted over it again. A weathered blue this time.

The paint eventually dried.

So when you walk into that bathroom, it looks OK at first glance. But if you stay longer to -- you know -- you begin to see the ripples of those buried shards. You can see where we painted over the imperfections, tried to hide them instead of dealing with them.

You can see, in short, that something's not right. You can see those ships that should have long ago sunk.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Belgian beers

Wow. I've discovered Belgian beers and there's no going back.

What I've tried:

Ommegang Hennepin -- One of my favorite beers ever. Brewed in New York, but in the Belgian style.
Boulevard Saison -- Solid variety. It's spiced, which is a little much for me.

Ommegang Rare Vos -- Good, not as good as Hennepin.

Westmalle Dubbel -- Sweet and complex. A nice choice.

St. Bernardus Tripel -- Very good. But not as good as their Quad.
Delirium Tremens-- Very spicy. Again, if that's you're thing ...

St. Bernardus Abt. 12 -- My favorite beer now. Very complex and just incredible.

Wish list
1. Westvleteren 12 -- The consensus top beer in the world, this quad is also very rare and expensive.
2. Rochefort 10 -- The poor man's Westy.
3. Westmalle Tripel -- The originator of the style.
4. La Fin Du Monde -- A Quebec Belgian-style triple that's supposed to be awesome. I tried it years ago but need to give it another go.
5. Chimay -- A common Belgian style in the US that I haven't gotten around to.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Five Senses: mid-February

Taste: Cherrmacca beer from Nebraska Brewing Company
I'm taking Beer School from Beertopia. Love that place. Anyway, their master brewer guides you through classes that educate drinkers about beer. The first week was a field trip to Nebraska Brewing Company. A brewer there made a porter that he mixed with real cherries. It's called Cherrmacca and is really smooth and mellow. Very nice.

Touch: SimCity on the iPod Touch
I played SimCity on my Playstation years ago and was geeked for the iPod release. For $9.99, it's been a letdown. Anytime your city gets too big, the game crashes. Bummer. Lately, my 3-year-old's been enjoying it -- mostly destroying the cities I've constructed. He calls it "the building and the breaking game." Glad he likes it. Helps me get my money's worth.

Smell: Velvet Tuberose soap from Bath & Body Works
No need mincing words. This stuff sucks. It smells all musty Victorian and should never have been made. It's sitting in the bathroom where my wife began over-zealously hacking at wallpaper. So the walls are all dented, nicked and partially covered in paper. In the end, I guess, this hideous soap is a good fit in there.

Hear: Blitzen Trapper's "Furr"
Been obsessed with living in the wild lately (above mention of wife is only the tip of iceberg with her). This song would be the perfect soundtrack to those thoughts. It's about a guy who's lost and ends up living with wolves. My interest in this song coincides with watching lots of "Survivorman." Together, they've got me hankering for heading to the Colorado mountains and living a solitary life of climbing 14ers, shivering in a tent and not hearing anything about the news, the mortgage payment or rushes to daycare.

See: Flight of the Conchords
Wow. Do I love this show/these guys. Basically it's an HBO comedy about two New Zealand comedy rockers trying to make it big in New York City. In real life, the two guys are actually comedy rockers from New Zealand. This season has been hilarious, specifically "Sugalumps."